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Sony considered button-less PS4 controller

Sony has spoken out on the development of its next-gen console, revealing that it considered button-less options for the new PS4 controller.

Although the PS4 DualShock 4 controller has seen a touch panel interface added alongside the standard D-pad and quad-button layout of past models, Sony has suggested it came close to ridding it of all physical buttons.

“At the very start, we were thinking of drastically changing the controller,” Toshimasa Aoki, Manager of the Sony Computer Entertainment’s Product Planning Department said in a recent interview with GamesBeat. He added: “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.

We made, I don’t know, more than 20 prototypes. Some had no buttons, just touch panels. Some were rounded. All this crazy stuff.

Elaborating on this array of ‘crazy stuff’ the gaming giant looked at, Aoki said: “A touchscreen was another idea that we had. We actually tested it, but [besides cost factors], our game teams felt like having to look down at the controller is not what they want to do. They want to have the consumers concentrated on the big picture that they show [on the TV].”

Although the many button-less, touchscreen hosting PS4 controller prototypes finally got knocked on the head, Sony has suggested that gamer and developers alike are excited by the compact touchpad which ended up complimenting the new controller’s buttons.

“The developers love the touchpad, but only as the secondary input,” said Aoki. “Of course, as it evolves and people get used to the touchpad, it may become more primary.”

With Sony looking for further guidance and input on how its PS4 controller should look and be laid out, the company turning to leading developers for assistance.

“We always kept in mind that it was a controller for a platform and not just for our games,” Tommy de Roos, the Lead Gameplay Programmer on Guerilla Games’ PS4 launch title Killzone said.

He added: “Of course, we tried to push the things we really wanted forward. Every studio pushed for their own thing. 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.”

With the PS4 already on sale in the US, a UK-based PS4 release date is now just days away with the next-gen console to hit British shores on November 29 priced £349.

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