In another world, the Playstation 4’s controller would have had an analog stick above the directional pad.
Sony once toyed with the idea of taking design cues from Microsoft’s Xbox controller, Sony product planning manager Toshimasa Aoki said in a recent interview with GamesBeat.
According to Aoki, planning started on the PS4’s controller in 2010 and was the very first thing Sony did in the designing the new console. Sony wanted to build the console’s controllers from the ground up, and was reportedly receptive to radical ideas.
“At the very start, we were thinking of drastically changing the controller,” Aoki said in an interview with GamesBeat. “So we made, I don’t know, more than 20 prototypes. Some had no buttons, just touch panels. Some were rounded. All this crazy stuff.”
“For the analog sticks, we did test having the analog sticks on top, since the Xbox has the left side on top [above the D-pad],” he continued.
Aoki explained that during play testing the teams testing the Xbox-like controller with FPS games gave very positive feedback.
“[The teams] knew that consumers liked the 360 for shooters,” he said.
Though the PS3’s controller certainly has its fans, the Xbox 360’s controller is considered the most ergonomic and best designed by gamers. Consider the Wii U’s controller: it certainly takes design cues from the Xbox 360’s.
In the end, however, tradition won out over innovation. While the PS4’s controller will have numerous tweaks and enhancements, it will remain largely identical to the Playstation controller of yore. This design, according to Aoki, “is kind of in our DNA.”
The Playstation 4 launches next month.