In a recent interview with GamesBeat, Sony manager of product planning, Toshimasa Aoki gave some insight into the development of the DualShock 4 controller. According to Aoiki, it’s original prototype looked similar to the current Xbox 360 controller.
“At the very start, we were thinking of drastically changing the controller. 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.”
“We did test having the analogue sticks on top, since the Xbox has the left side on top [above the D-pad],” he said. “Especially from the shooter teams – we got feedback that that’s what they wanted. They knew that consumers liked the 360 for shooters.[But having the two sticks symmetrical on the left and right sides] is kind of in our DNA. The prototype team, myself, and also the management team really felt that having this look is the PlayStation look, and we had to keep that.”
Ultimately, however, Sony decided to abandon the prototype for something more in line with what was expected of them:
“If we moved the X up there, it just breaks all the muscle memory,” Aoki said. “The right hand mostly goes for both buttons and sticks, but the left hand stays on one or the other and usually doesn’t switch around [between the left analogue stick and the D-pad]. That’s why it’s OK to switch around the left side. But switching the right side really breaks the gamer’s experience.”