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Sony has patented a new PlayStation controller

Sony patenting a new PlayStation controller design may not seem too unusual, given the PS5 is due in 2020 – a year which starts in under 48 hours – but the nature of this pad is certainly a head-scratcher.

First spotted by Polygon, there are a couple of things that suggest this isn’t directly aimed at the new console, and is actually a PS4 accessory. First of all, in terms of its shape, it looks pretty much exactly like the current gamepad. In fact, from the front it looks the same – only without the circular PlayStation button in the middle.

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It’s round the back where differences appear. The new pad has two additional buttons on the reverse, and these can be programmed to mimic the functionality of any other input.A labelled diagram of new Playstation Pad gaming controller, front panel 

The design similarity in itself could still point to a PS5 pad – after all, the change from PS2 to PS3 gamepad was ‘evolution not revolution’, even if there was once a plan for something a bit more madcap. That’s true,  but the patent clearly shows a microUSB charging port, and the upcoming PS5 is supposed to be USB-C.

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So either the patent is wrong, the rumours about the PS5 are wrong, or this is indeed a PS4 accessory. That’s not as odd as it sounds, given Sony has already announced an accessory to make existing PS4 pads have these programmable back buttons. Maybe this is just providing parity for any controllers bought new next year, without buyers needing to buy the extra buttons.

That in itself could point to the PS5 pad’s design of course. Maybe the new console’s controller will look quite a lot like this, and this is just Sony’s way of making older pads forwards-compatible? We’ll just have to wait and see what Sony has up its sleeve in the new year to be sure.

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