On the surface, the DualShock 4 we're familiar with may not appear radically different from its predecessor, but that's only where designers ended up. Along the way, the PlayStation 4 controller took some strange forms. "At the very start, we were thinking of drastically changing the controller," Sony Computer Entertainment's Toshimasa Aoki told GamesBeat.
"We tried out new devices, changing the form factor. We'd start from there and then try to talk to the game teams and tweak toward what the best form would be to have for those new devices. 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."
Sony even toyed around with moving the analog sticks to match that of the Xbox 360 gamepad's, as well as the Wii U Pro Controller's positioning. Feedback from game developers was also solicited. "Every studio pushed for their own thing," said Guerrilla Games lead programmer Tommy de Roos. "We pushed for the headphone jack. I think [Drive Club developer Evolution Studios] pushed for better gyros, because they want to experiment with steering there. It was a mix."
Ultimately, it was decided that having the DualShock 4's sticks was central to "the PlayStation look" and "is kind of in our DNA," explained Aoki. Having gotten hands-on with the gamepad, I think the team made a lot of smart choices. It feels like such an upgrade.