Come On, Guys, The DualShock 3 Sucked

Come On, Guys, The DualShock 3 Sucked

The original PlayStation controller debuted in 1994. The more familiar DualShock was released in 1997. The PlayStation 3 controller you’re using today, well into the 21st century, is almost identical to that 1997 design. Let’s think about that for a second. It’s now 2013, and if you’ve got a PS3, you’re still using a pad whose shape was conceived alongside spring-loaded disc trays and RGB inputs.

2005. E3. When the PS3 was first unveiled over eight years ago, back when it promised to include 117 USB ports, 37 SD card reader slots and an electric cup holder, Sony also showed off a new PlayStation controller. Consisting of a radical boomerang shape, it was a massive departure from the company’s iconic pad design, and most fans – and pundits – laughed their asses off. Or recoiled in horror. Or both.

Come On, Guys, The DualShock 3 Sucked

Initial reaction was so poor that Sony canned the design before the PS3 was even released, reverting not to an alternative effort, but going back in time, to a controller layout so similar to that of the PlayStation 2’s DualShock 2 that it was only a lack of wires that let you tell which was which at a distance.

(This new/old pad was the Sixaxis. The less we talk about the Sixaxis , usurped in 2007 by the DualShock 3, the better.)

Congratulations, guys. You got what you wanted. And in doing so, condemned us all to seven years of sucky controllers.

The DualShock 3 – and Sixaxis before it – are by today’s standards terrible pads. I find them to be uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time, not to mention occasionally physically painful (thumb tendons aren’t meant to hold sticks like that, which is why the DualShock 4’s are higher).

Their triggers feel cheap. The thumbstick placement is far from ideal for playing shooters, and those thumbsticks have a deadzone as big as a mass grave.

Some would argue that this regression, a return to the good ol’ controller, was a good thing. That it established a legacy. That it was Sony sticking with a winner.

That argument might have helped fanboys sleep at night, but it also ignored 10 years of advances in ergonomics and controller design, from the DreamCast’s wonderful analogue stick and triggers to the Xbox Controller S’ all-around comfort .

Come On, Guys, The DualShock 3 Sucked

It also forgets the fact Sony themselves had got rid of the template over eight years ago, and brought it back not as a design decision, but as a reactive marketing call.

Most sane people would, if given the choice between playing a game using the DualShock 3 or Xbox 360 Controller, would go for Microsoft’s pad every time. Understandably! One controller was designed with the current hardware generation in mind. The other was nearly indistinguishable from a model of the PlayStation controller first released in 1997.

But hey. It’s not all bad for the PS3’s controller. There are two areas the DualShock 3 came out on top against Microsoft’s 360 pad. It’s just a shame for Sony that neither are anywhere near as important as comfort.

The first is the d-pad. OK, so Microsoft would lose this contest to a toilet roll holder, so bad is the 360’s effort, but the DualShock 3’s d-pad is still a good one, as useful for flicking through the XMB as it has been for games involving stuff like 2D platforming.

The second is the battery. Microsoft went cheap, and it cost the 360 pad (and owners), users left to either lug around AA batteries or pay extra for rechargeable packs. Sony’s built-in battery, on the other hand, has proven to be a wise investment.

ANECDOTE: I’ve been using the same primary controller for both consoles since 2008. In that time, I’ve been through four Xbox 360 battery packs for my 360 pad, either as a result of hardware failure or a loss of charge. The PS3’s in-built battery, meanwhile, still lasts for hours, which is insane when you consider my PS3 isn’t just a games console, it doubles as my media centre.

Come On, Guys, The DualShock 3 Sucked

At the end of the day, it’s clear the DualShock design is past it. Even Sony knows it. Remember, and I’m going to reiterate this again, it was due for retirement in 2006, and only kept around because Sony flinched in the face of backlash.

There’s no such stay of execution in the age of the PS4. The new console’s controller is a marked departure, abandoning its predecessor’s angular handles and coming up with an all-new design for shoulder buttons and triggers. In fact the only thing that’s a trademark Sony design at all is the thumbstick placement, and even that nearly didn’t make it.

If I’ve made it sound like I hate the DualShock design entirely, I don’t! In the late 90s, and even into the PS2 era, it was a fantastic controller layout, and will forever be remembered for pioneering the idea of putting two thumbsticks on a console pad. It’s also one of the few controllers you could ever call “iconic”, quite an achievement considering that’s a plaudit normally reserved for Nintendo products of the 1980s.

It’s just…sad that an old champion was kept around past his prime. He deserved to bow out alongside the PS2 as masters of the world, not as an outdated piece of tech dragged out of retirement into one last, sorry fight.

Last-Gen Heroes is Kotaku’s look back at the seventh generation of console gaming. In the weeks leading up to the launch of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, we’ll be celebrating the Heroes — and the Zeroes — of the last eight years of console video gaming.

Come On, Guys, The DualShock 3 Sucked


  • I’ve always been adamant that the DUAL shock was a horrible design, its uncomfortable and ugly.
    Im keen to get my hands on one of these new ps4 ones, just to see how they feel.

    • to me I’ve always thought the analogue sticks were an afterthought, when dualshock first came out I remember laughing at how they just stuck them on there, seemed like no thought went into the design what-so-ever.

      The basic design of the PS4 controller doesnt look much different but I havent used one yet.

    • Funny thing is I hate the xbox controller because I always feel like I have to grip its . And when I have seen people hold the ps3 controller… well, they do it like the picture above. Wrapped around it. Gripping. I have used one for years and I don’t hold it like that. I hold it loose. Relaxed.

      Often the front panel and sticks are almost facing completely away from me and towards the screen. The claw gripper people hold it with their palms against the sides of the wings and their thumbs bent, with their fingers wrapped around the triggers. I hold it with the bottom of the wings lightly resting on the middle bone of my little and ring fingers, my palms are in the breeze, and my thumbs are straight. The top bone of my pointer and index fingers comfortably rest on the triggers.

      When I am gaming at my best, I feel relaxed and completely forget my arms are stretched in front of me, resting on my lap, with a controller almost out of sight down between my knees. Also, I am barely touching the controller, and do not have a lot of skin rubbing on plastic.

      Basically you are all doing it wrong. The xbox controller is for those people who hold it in front of their torso, sticks pointing at them. A dualshock (like a bass guitar) needs to be slung low for optimum awesome.

      p.s. The one thing that I would complain about is the convex sticks. Look at the picture of the ps4 controller above. Look at the sticks. Concave. Concave, baby! Oh, yeah!

      • I agree an XBOX controller is annoying and bulky. I never grip any of my PS controllers over the years, because I never needed to. And I play all sorts of different game types.

      • Exactly. Held properly, the “wings” rest against the base of the last three fingers on each hand. Your last three fingers on each hand are relaxed at all times. You switch between R1/L1 and R2/L2 by moving your index finger. (This does make it hard to press both buttons on one side simultaneously, but very few games require that, and if it is required you can move up your middle finger without changing your grip very much.)

        It’s a piece of precision equipment. If you are using any muscles at all while idly holding it, You Are Doing It Wrong. I worry a bit about the new PS4 controller because the touchpad does not appear to be in an easily accessible position.

        When I use an Xbox controller for an extended period, my palms get horribly hot and sweaty because the design obliges you to put your palms against the base of the “wings”.

        On the other hand… concave sticks, YES! The one problem I had with the Dual Shock 3 was that the top of the sticks would lose grip when used for an extended period.

    • I was a E3 in the summer and got maybe 4-5 hours playing time. The DualShock 4 is much better.

    • Yeah – its a kind of well known, but people will not only adapt to bad designs, but come to love them.

      • I’m still rather fond of the original Atari 2600 stick controller, although the square base was an ergonomic nightmare.

        It did let you lightly grip the actual stick though. The modern use of short thumbsticks is necessary when you need two directional controls, but a single tall stick is absolutely ideal for some types of games.

        I also find the Dual Shock 3 reasonably usable. Maybe it’s because I hold it lightly rather than in a death grip. If there’s one thing the old Atari sticks trained you out of, it’s death grips…

      • GameCube controller??? Haha
        Honestly the ps4 controller looks bad at least Xbox One has a fantastic controller full of stuff gamers actually want and need… I’m looking at you Nintendo!

    • WOW! i totally agree. There was an article on Kotaku yesterday about which console was the best of the last gen consoles. i voted for 360 simply because the PS control is the worst control ever. I cant ever get use to it.


  • “and those thumbsticks have a deadzone as big as a mass grave.”

    BS, both of my dualshocks have literally zero deadzone, it comes down the the software utilising the hardware. Play Resistance 3, the slightest lean on either side of the thumbstick will result in movement.

    • Plug it into a PC and you can see how minute an input it needs to register. It’s entirely software programmed deadzones.

  • Huh, I never noticed that the boomerang controllers actually had the d-pad and face buttons tilted in towards the centre.

    Really wish I could have given it a go, they seem like they could have been decent.

    • Are they – I’ve literally never worked out the correct way to use the L2 and R2 buttons. Either way, I have to shift my grip, which is a complete fail.

      • with your index finger…

        There’s absolutely no need to shift your grip. Heck why are you even gripping in the first place? I never grip any of my controllers no matter what game I’m playing. Maybe that’s why you guys hate it, because you feel the need to grip stuff. I play all sorts of games from shooters, to RPGs to beat ’em up to action/adventure. No matter what I’m doing, no matter what I’m fighting against, the controllers rests lightly on my hand. Never gripped.

    • Anyone who has their fingers on all 4 shoulder buttons at the same time is doing it wrong.

      Not at all. Consider flying games for instance:

      L1/R1: Strafe left/right
      L2/R2: Decelerate/Accelerate

      Even GTA V uses this layout for flying planes and helicopters.

  • I don’t mind the dualshock design. It’s what I grew up with so it’s what I know. That’s quite a lengthy article on you not liking a controller though

      • Yes. I still consider the GameCube controller to be the pinnacle of ergonomic design. Subjective opinion of course.

        • The best part had to be the different shape of each face button. Why? Whenever a game tells you to ‘Press X’, especially if you go between multiple controllers, you;ll get their location mixed up. The Gamecube? It also showed the shape of the physical button, so you knew exactly which one to press.

          The number of times people died in Heavy Rain due to button mis-presses….the HORROR

          • They were different shapes and they were arranged radially. So you rested on the default button and you moved in a direction for each other button. The whole thing just sat so perfectly, was so intuitive, and fit so well to the hand.

      • 100% man. Gamecube pad was an absolute beauty to hold and really held up to long hours. Didnt get much recognition and was pretty ug looking though.

  • It does suck. Can’t even use triggers and the analog sticks are way too close. Sony’s hubris will never make asymmetrical thumbsticks.

    • Never understood the love of asymmetrical thumbsticks. My thumbs aren’t asymmetrical, so why should my controller?

      • I can’t really explain it besides just saying I like the placement more. Everything is in the perfect spot. DS4 does look like a huge improvement on DS3 though.

      • It comes down to usage. Your left thumb’s ideal neutral resting position is where the D-pad is. However, pre-dualshock, Sony designed the controller with no analogue sticks and only hastily stuck them on later to one-up the N64. That’s why the sticks are in the least ergonomic position and to this day, look like an afterthought.

        So yes, the areas on the controller taken by the D-pad and face buttons are the best thumb positions. On the right side, the face buttons are used very frequently. However, on the left side, the D-pad is barely used, and so wasting space. The DS4 is sticking with the dreaded symmetrical design, but the handles are longer and the sticks are slightly more lateral, looks like a huge improvement.

      • To me it comes down to how you naturaly hold the controller for games such as shooters.
        For games like FPS’s you need precision movements of the right thumbstick and frequent right face button usage. So idealy you want to be supporting the weight of the controller mostly with your left hand, leaving your right digits free to almost float over the controls and not be affected by having to grip much.
        Holding the controler like this naturaly shifts the grip of the left hand further up and around the handle of the controller, putting the position of the thumb in the location of the 360 controller’s left stick, or the Dual Shock’s D pad.
        Remember that the Playstation D pad was designed for movement in the first place and thats why it is where it is. But now that we want to use sticks for movement…

        Also the left stick of the Dualshock obstructs the select button, which is really annoying in something like BF3 multiplayer where you need to use it a lot.

        Sure you get used to using the Dual Shock but after you have used both extensively the 360 layout is way better imo.
        As the author says: ergonomics vs no ergonomics.

        • This reminds of playing Soul Calibur on the Dreamcast. We always used to hold the controller “normally” with our left hand, but use our forefingers and middle fingers of our right hands for pressing the buttons so we could pull off the combos. I guess if things don’t really work naturally for you, you’ll always find away around it if you want to play bad enough.

  • That argument might have helped fanboys sleep at night, but it also ignored 10 years of advances in ergonomics and controller design, from the DreamCast’s wonderful analogue stick and triggers to the Xbox Controller S’ all-around comfort .
    Comfort is relative.
    Both of those controllers gave me terrible handcramps, but I can use a Dual Shock 3 all day with no problems.

    • I always find the ergonomics arguments interesting, given just as you say, comfort is relative. For something to be truly ergonomic, it needs to be tailor made for the indivudual.

    • The human hand is pretty much standard when it comes to bone and muscular structure, though.

      You can get used to anything. Spend enough time living in a house with doors you have to duck through and it becomes a natural feeling response.

    • Unless you walk around and sleep with your thumbs at right angles to the rest of your palm, there’s no way the DS3 should be more inherently bearable. You’ve simply grown accustomed with it.

      • I’ve played pretty equally on N64, Gamecube, Dreamcast, PSX/2/3, Xbox/360 so no it’s not that I’ve grown accustomed to it, it’s just the controller that works best for me without pain.
        When I use it,my thumbs are not anywhere near right-angles, in fact when I hold it with my thumbs resting on the sticks and my forefingers resting on the R1/R2 triggers it forms more of a nice comfy 45 degree angle so I’m not sure where your assumptions are coming from but they are most certainly not based on anything to do with me.

  • I really prefer the Playstation 3 controller to the XBOX, (I have both) and everything here is subjective,. But I find it lighter, I really like the placement of the analogue sticks, and as the article mentions durability, my controller after many years still holds it’s charge and works like a dream.

    • You are not alone. I think it’s the way the 360 controller has the battery pack poking out of the back. The DS3 controller is thin and flat so you can support it with your fingers out flat rather than having to grip the handles at all.

    • There are definite things I prefer on the DS3: No chunky battery pack on the bottom, no needless recharging of Eneloops, the lightness, etc. I have grown used to the (IMO) dreadful analogue stick placement.

      The PS3 is more ‘current gen’ primary console, but there are times when the analogue stick issue rears its ugly head. Most recently, was playing GTA5’s yoga minigame where you move and hold the sticks in the 8 directions. You’ll realise how ‘off’ the analogue sticks are when it asks you to hold the sticks in the 3 o’clock position and you’re way off because the orientation on the controller is way off the near-horizontal direction your thumbs are coming in.

      I’m definitely getting a PS4 and the DS4 looks like a big improvement but if not, I hope there’s a 3rd party Xbox/GCN-layout controller for the PS4.

      • I had some time with the DS4 at EBEXPO, it was certainly better, but that doesn’t take away from the DS3.

  • Here’s the funny thing – spent my whole life with Nintendo controllers. Once ‘current’ gen settled in, I got a 360 and found the controller to be my favourite and used it more for my PC than the 360. Eventually got a PS3 and tolerated the DS3 for the exclusive games.
    Fast forward a few years, busted my thumb in a game of touch football. For the next 6 months, it was physically painful to use a 360 controller with the amount of grip strength required, but I had no such issues with the DS3.
    Spent long enough in this situation that the DS3 became my controller of choice, and I can’t imagine using anything else when Dark Souls 2 comes out next year. PS3 version was my immediate choice, purely for the controller.

    I guess I can see that the DS3 would be painful / uncomfortable if I tried to use the same amount of grip force that the 360 controller requires.

      • Can’t say I’ve looked into it, but given that my better half has appropriated the 360 pad and wireless receiver for her shiny new PC recently, it may be worth me giving the DS3 a go.

  • Never had an issue with it or the Xbox360 controller or any controller for that matter. I find it’s just another thing for people to play favourites with or whinge about.

  • Always despised the ps controller, the 4 looks comfortable for once, always get pains in my hand from playing PS for more then 20-30 minutes.

  • I think the Dualshock and the original Xbox ‘duke’controller are both terrible. I avoided the xbox like a plague until they released the s-controller for the xbox. That bigger thing was hideous!

  • Well Sony with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix” approach..

    I quite liked the Dual Shock design

    Whilst the 360 controller is good…the PS3 controller just feels better to play with…but I guess I got conditioned playing PS1 and PS2 games and got a lot of “Playstation Crunch” during my time but I just find the PS3 controller more comfortable to play with

  • This always make me laugh.

    For the life of me I cant figure out how people get their knickers in a knot so bad over controllers. I’ve used both xbox/playstation controllers hundreds of times and not once playing a video game have I ever thought “oh man this controller sure is x y z”. I just play the game and forget about it altogether.

    That diagram, seriously, I’ve never held my playstation controller like a deformed lab test.

    • The same way that some people care about how a car feels to drive, but some don’t.
      I’ll never drive a car with a mushy clutch, an accelerator with no weight or feeling of depth, or a gear stick that doesn’t ‘click’ in and out of gates properly. Some people don’t care, but for me it’s the difference between a good and bad experience driving. The controller is the same.

      • I have to say that I never appreciated an automatic transmission until I had to drive with a cast on my leg.
        Guess I’m getting a common theme going here about only appreciating something different after personal injury.

        • In order to enjoy Oculous Rift, you are going to have to get some sort of head injury. Probably better to do without.

          • I like your way of thinking, but so far it’s only applied to things that I considered inferior and preferred not to have to use. The Oculus Rift is awesome and I can’t wait for the consumer version.
            I guess my next big bias is FPS on a controller. Maybe if I suffer some sort of injury where my wrists have to stay within an inch of each other, a controller might be the only option.

          • A horrible accident where manacles on a four inch chain are permanently attached to your wrists.

            I’m sorry for your future loss.

  • if you’ve got a PS3, you’re still using a pad whose shape was conceived alongside spring-loaded disc trays and RGB inputs

    Yeah, my car has 4 wheels, just like the first one invented did.

    And in doing so, condemned us all to seven years of sucky controllers.

    Wow. First world issues.

    All of the PS controllers have been excellent. The Dualshock 3 is great mainly because it’s familiar (that was a selling point to me) and because it’s wireless. The wireless functionality make this gens controller far superior to previous gens.

    I find them to be uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time, not to mention occasionally physically painful

    Yeah I get that too. Certainly more noticeably than I did with PS1 and PS2. But still, pain sets in after hours of usage and that’s probably a good sign to put the controller down for a bit.

    Their triggers feel cheap. The thumbstick placement is far from ideal for playing shooters, and those thumbsticks have a deadzone as big as a mass grave.

    I’ve never had a problem with the triggers – and they definitely don’t feel cheap. There’s nothing wrong with them.

    I have no idea what a deadzone is. Sounds like a 90s’ movie.

    We don’t have to be super awesome at games and shave off 0.05 seconds off of a reaction time. Some of us just want to play. Ideally on an even playing field.

    The second is the battery. Microsoft went cheap, and it cost the 360 pad (and owners), users left to either lug around AA batteries or pay extra for rechargeable packs.

    Yeah that’s a big factor. People like quality and convenience.

  • I completely disagree witht his article. I think the Dualshock design is the single best on the market today. It’s light, durable and comfortable. There’s a REASON the basic design hasn’t been updated in nearly 20 years.

    • There’s a REASON the basic design hasn’t been updated in nearly 20 years.

      Stagnation? The first redesign only happened when Sony was blindsided by the N64 and so jerry-rigged two sticks beneath the handles, to join the “we TWO analogue sticks!” pissing-contest. They backed away from the boomerang controller because they were kow-towing to fans. Doesn’t mean they got it right the first (or second) time around.

      • Stagnation? They may not have changed the outside but the inside, the part that interacts with the game, got a big upgrade (Debatabley even over the 360. I’m not saying it was better, but there were more possible ways to interact with the games because of 6 axis, even if it’s considered a gimmick) As for the outside, I’m with some of the other guys, comfort is relative. After using a PS pad for years, the 360 pad gives me cramps.

        In any case, I try not to base my console decision on the Pad. It’s only a pad after all and most of the time there are good aftermarket alternatives.

        • In any case, I try not to base my console decision on the Pad.

          I’m not either. I own a PS2 and PS3, I have a pre-order down for the PS4 and generally prefer it to Xbox at this point but I generally loathe the dualshock family. If I can find a 3rd party Xbox-layout controller for the PS4, I’ll be a very happy camper.

          • Yeah, all I say is it’s down to preference. I know many who hate the PS pad and others that hate the xbox pad.

  • Never much liked he Dualshock 3. Still, you get used to it. Really looking forward to the sexy sticks of the Dualshock 4, however.

  • The DS3 really wasn’t up to snuff when pitted against the Xbox 360 controller, the ergonomics of that thing were just impossible to match with old DS design. That being said I’d take a DS3 any day of the week for Fighting games and Platforming, Sony’s d-pad continues to be the best in class as far as I’m concerned, something the 360 controller sorely lacked.

    Pretty pumped to get my hands on the DS4, that thing looks a lot more refined in the ergo department. Also the widening of the space between the sticks should make things a lot easier, less of a stretch inwards and no colliding thumbs which is what made stick usage on the PS3 a less desirable experience (contrary to popular belief it was range and throw that made the PS3 uncomfortable, not the asymmetrical positioning). Also good to see some tension on those things now.

  • The xbox controller may be more comfortable, but if the PS3 controller was 10% -20% fatter on the sides it would be perfect. I dont know how many times ive hit down on the dpad on the xbox controller an its decided to hit left as well.

  • It’ll be a while before I spring for a PS4 but I’m hoping that the redesigned controller will mean I won’t need to drop a hundred odd bucks on a top quality 3rd party controller just to be able to use it like I did with the PS3.

    Say no to early onset arthritis kids, its not as glamorous as it sounds.

  • The general consensus may have been that DS3 sucked but I didn’t care. I was brought up on Nintendo 64 and playstation, then ps2 & GameCube controllers. So I’ve been used to these shapes my whole life. When I bought my first 360 in 2010 I enjoyed the controller, but didn’t feel disadvantaged when playing a shooter (or whatever) back on the PS3. To me it was just different horses for different courses and games like resistance, killzone and uncharted felt just at home on the ds3 as cod did on the 360. You guys may view the design as dated and carrying 20-year-old flaws… To me it’s a classic design that held up remarkably well

  • I disagree, after only playing GTAV on the PS3 for about 6 weeks and then switching to the 360 pad for a bit of Arkham origins action on the pc I find the 360 pad more uncomfortable.

    If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

  • Sony really sucked at the start of this gen. Crappy prototype controller, crappy sixaxis, calling rumble dead, calling rumble impossible with sixaxis (bs), finally bringing the DS3, and it’s still beaten in almost every department with the design of the 360 controller. They’ve made up for it since, but you can see why people were turned off from Sony around the PS3 launch and first year.

  • I just find the DualShock Controller really feels more native to the brain then the Xbox controller, I use both but I believe most people who spend a lot of time using both will genuinely say DualShocks more comfortable mentally, Even if it does turn your hand into the all mighty Claw!

    – you don’t have to think about actions having the simple Shapes as opposed to just Letters ingrains them in your mind better.

    – Symmetrical thumbsticks allow you to maneuver faster and with more precision because your brain isn’t calculating for re-adjustments.

    – Personally I believe the only reason other controllers aren’t symmetrical is because they don’t want to pay Sonys copyright fee as opposed to their bs “it’s more practical

    – the pinching sensation in the hand while being a good FPS player on an xbox is just gamers kidding themselves. Its VERY uncomfy using left Thumbstick and Left bumper at the same time..

    – As mentioned the Xbox D-Pad is one of the worst I have ever used.

    • Most of your list is driven by familiarity, not any real functional difference. Colours tend to be more memorable than shapes (letters are just another kind of shape) in scientific studies. Symmetrical positioning only really helps with symmetrical actions, which is rare in games. Comfort is subjective but I can’t see how you’d have difficulty using the left stick and left bumper together on the X360 controller. Your hand should be in the exact same position either way, with only your thumb angle changing.

      The Xbox dpad is about the only thing in your list I agree with. It’s not very good, so it’s nice that they’ve updated it for the XB1 controller.

      • Colours + Shapes combo is definitely the most memorable.

        Colours alone Not so much

        If you have a controller that has just 4 coloured circle dots it’s more confusing then having them assigned to different shapes which is why both Sony and Msoft have done so with their controllers.

        The issue also comes with xbox and nintendo both using A/B/X/Y but in different orders which is a slight annoyance to me switching between Nintendo DS and Xbox controllers. – Sony I sit down to and pick up instantly even after not playing for 12months.

        And when you say “symmetrical actions, which is rare in games” I call it as bull – If i want to look down I flick it down – if I want to look up I flick the stick up – it needs to be syymetrical so that your brain flows naturally into the rythm of Looking Up/Down And Moving Forwards/Backwards require exact same thought process and effort.

        Camera control feels way more natural on a PS3 controller for that reason.

        Also from my experience a lot of Xbox users love to invert their cameras – I believe that stems from the shoddy stick layout.

        • Your point on symmetry was on the physical positions of the two analogue sticks. Symmetrical actions are where you flick both sticks down simultaneously, or both sticks inwards simultaneously. Your reply there is about axis inversion on a single stick, which is handled by the game or console, nothing symmetrical about it.

          Axis inversion has nothing to do with the layout of the controller, it’s about the intuition between how stick movements translate to the camera. People who prefer inverted controls treat the stick like a joystick where it represents rotational direction – ie. pulling down on the stick rotates the camera in that direction, which pushes the viewport upwards.

          • Yes I did note that as the very last line of the entire comment – And from what I have seen it comes from the fact users need to look up quite quickly in games (namely FPS’s) – It just seems that bit annoying when your left thumb is already stretched out to bump it accurately and instantly up.

            Because of that uncomfortable feeling I believe xbox users switch to invert – It’s quicker on an xbox controller to flick the left stick down as it is up, on a PS controller everything is balanced – more users have it set to standard controls. (sure there’s always exceptions to the rules but that’s just from what I’ve noticed)

          • I think that’s a stretch. Most people switch axis settings because the ‘wrong way’ is mentally wrong and they keep reverting back to the way it works in their head, rather than one direction or the other being easier to push on the stick.

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure these things are all true for you, I just don’t think they apply to the majority of gamers in the way you’re suggesting.

  • off topic – but when I play my Vita laying down, my right arm always gets cramped or goes dead. I’ve never been able to work out why that is…

  • dunno i liked it, i played ps1, ps2, and ps3, so it seemed very natural to me, in comparison i only got a x360 a little while, and only now just adjusting to the controller now, still prefer DS3 over X360 controller but thats a personal preference so meh

  • the boomerang controller to me was always like the promise of dual TV outputs so split screen turned into split monitor at parties. empty, but I can’t say that I find the dualshock controller terrible by design. I really find it comfortable, and yes I have tried THE XB controllers. they feel out of whack with the lack of symmetry with the sticks. this playstation 4 controller looks too rounded for my comfort

  • Bull it was! I loved the DualShock 3. I honestly never understood what people hated about the Sixaxis/DS3… its the same as DS2 but with a beefier feel. Nah, i call BS.

  • I had to log in for the first time in months just to say this.

    — No, no it didn’t.

    I’m going to miss the analogue buttons on the Dualshock 2 and 3, games like MGS3 (pressure sensitive inputs) will never play the same on the PS4, but I don’t know why’d I’d want to play them on PS4 anyway.

  • the only edge the dualshock had over the xbox controllers was that it’s much easier to play fighting games on it.

    other than that i totally agree, it was a horrible controller, and everyone saying good things about the DS4, so i’m excited to get my hands on it.

  • Personally I’ve never had a problem with the DualShock controllers, but then again it could just be because I’m so used to them. I’ve had a PlayStation for every generation since the PS1, so I certainly should be used to the DualShock by now. When I finally did get a 360 though, I found it hard to get used to the controller, and even now I still (occasionally) get confused as to where each button is placed. I guess it’s just what you’re used to.

    • That’s pretty much it. I find the X360 controller to be much more comfortable and a better match for my needs, but I had a PS2 for most of the generation prior and had no problem with using its controller. Going back to it now feels really awkward though.

    • I don’t know why people rave about the SNES controller. SNES was my console for that generation (my friends had the Sega consoles) and while it was better than the Megadrive controller at least, it wasn’t anything special.

      • So many more buttons, so much ergonomic advancement over the rectangle-with-two-buttons previous generation! And Super Metroid used all the buttons. You could crouch AND aim up! Revolutionary!*

        * I believe these were the rough beliefs of 12 year old me.

        • Oh yeah, it was definitely an improvement over its predecessors and peers, I just don’t know why people still rate it even today, when we have a lot of well designed options out there =)

          • You could apply that argument to a lot of the classic games of that era too. Nostalgia glasses can make things pretty murky.

  • Most sane people would, if given the choice between playing a game using the DualShock 3 or Xbox 360 Controller, would go for Microsoft’s pad every time. Understandably!

    And how about people that are PERFECTLY sane but have hands that are just naturally too small to hold the Xbox 360 controller and be able to reach all the buttons, let alone hold it for any amount of time, like myself.
    How about all of the kids and adults alike that I know that DON’T find it comfortable for one thumb to be higher then the other while playing due to the misplaced joysticks on the Xbox controller.

    And honestly Luke, your whole article is written like a vomit of fan-boy hate.

  • I have fairly large hands and I always preferred the feel of the dual shock controller, unsure why maybe it just feels familiar being a PS1 – PS2 kid. I mean come on remember the first Xbox controller lol that feel like I was gaming with a bowling ball.

    To me, ps3 controller > Xbox 360 controller. There i said it 😛

  • I prefer the DS3 over the XBox Wii or Wii U controllers.
    I actually own a Logitech DS3 knock off for the PC. I never feel comfortable with the XBox controller.

    So in my mind the DS3 is great (and the seldom used motion controll is great too… though the last time I remember using it was with Heavenly Sword to control arrows), and the XBox controller sucks…

    To each their own I guess.

  • I’m old enough to remember clearly the PS1 being announced back in our world of Nintendo, Sega and yes, NeoGeo, 3DO and others. The first pictures of the PS1 controllers produced wide public derision when compared to Sega and Nintendo’s and was spared of being the arse of every joke back then only by the existence of the even more ungainly and horrible offerings of the PC-FX and the Jaguar. It was ugly, inelegant and uncomfortable back then and it never stopped being that.

    People may had a chance to realise it when its design made it to the PS2, but again, they were too busy ridiculing the first XBOX’s mammoth of a controller. And as the article stated, the chance was again lost in the third generation, after Sony had to quickly pull back from the reactions that the “batarang” prototype had received from press and public. Glad to see that they finally made it.

  • If there was any plus to Sony keeping the DS3 not too far a deviation from past controllers for me, it was that it actually influenced me to buy the PS3 versions of those HD collections and Final Fantasy games over the 360 versions. I actually do prefer the 360 controller, but for those particular games my head was like “the controls for these games are meant to feel a certain way” which I think was partially influenced by the notquitethesame-ness of early PC emulators.

  • The dual shock is fine – just let go of the death grip kids.
    (Was the death grip adopted by those used to clinging to their XBricks for dear life?)

    • careful mate, they’ll vote you down and you’ll have to wait for comment moderation like i do now…

  • Yeah, call me a fanboy of what ever, but I’ve legit never had a problem with my DS3, and I didn’t ‘grow up’ with the DS, PS3 was legit my first home console. I have a 360 controller for my PC though, and enjoy it too. Don’t see how people manage to whinge about either..

  • I used to think the problem with the Dualshock design was the layout, but it’s not.

    The actual problem is the horribly short handles that force you to hold the controller above your palms so that your thumbs can rest comfortably.

  • I still don’t get how many people complain about the thumb position, it’s not that hard, you don’t use the ends of your thumbs on the sticks so they are bent, the sticks can sit half way down your thumb with the fingernail ends resting next to the Square and right d-pad arrow. And as for “big hands hurt when holding the dualshock”, nonsense. I have gorilla mitts and have zero problems.

  • I think “sucked” is a little strong. Disappointing and flawed as it was its still one of the best factory console controllers ever made, only really second to the Xbox controllers.

  • Surely you mean RGB output and not RGB input? 😉

    Though technically, when the PS1 was released, most people were using composite and a lot of people were still using RF.

  • Not being a fanboy here but even though i did like the ps3 more this gen, the controller is just bad, almost developing Rsi from the thumbsticks, therefore where I could I opted for the Xbox 360 on (in some pc games). However the ps4 controller which I used at the EB Expo feels great in regards to the thumbsticks ans the triggers as well. Also for those who dont know, the option button is basically the pause button now.

  • The only problems I had with it was that my fingers cramped and hurt if I played for too long.

  • OK, speaking as a long time gamer who happens to be a physiotherapist with some experience in the ergonomics that assist fine motor control, I’d have to say that all of Sony’s controllers for the PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation 3 sucked, big time. The touted ‘boomerang’ controller for the PlayStation 3 actually showed a lot of promise, in that it could cater easily to people with differing hand sizes placing their hands on the controller in differing places so that their thumbs fell onto the thumb sticks or D-pad appropriately. The shape of the controller ‘wings’ should also result in reduction of inner range flexor muscle work to grip the controller (compared to the run of the mill standard Sony PlayStation controller). Simply put, unless your hands are the size of the average six year old, all PlayStation controllers (up to the PS3) appear to have been designed to result in muscle cramps and dysfunction for anyone with adult sized hands. The PS4 controller is an improvement (actually, anything would be) but still does not match the Xbox 360 controller in terms of its ergonomics.

    • The Xbox 360 controller is a far better design than the PS3 dual sh*t from an ergonomic point of view. It can be held comfortably using mid range joint positions with very little muscle contraction. The staggered position of the thumb sticks allows easy left brain/right brain separation and differentiation. The concave shape of the thumb stick rubbers gives greater and more reliable control.

      My only complaint with the Xbox 360 controller is the D-pad which does not give as much accuracy as the dual sh*t D-pad. Having said that, the later transformable D-pad on limited edition Xbox 360 controllers goes a long way towards closing this gap.

      I guess that if someone has persevered for nigh on 20 years with the awful PlayStation controller design, they would have got used to it by now. They might have even managed to convince themselves that they like it and think that it is a good design.

      But they would be wrong; ask any ergonomist and they’d give you the same reply- the PlayStation dual shock design is cr*p.

      But hey! It all comes down to personal preference in the end, so you can use whatever controller you like. If you have a CronusMax, you can use an Xbox 360 controller on your PS3 or PS4 or your PC, a PS3 controller on your Xbox 360 or Xbox One or your PC or PS4, a PS4 controller on your Xbox 360 or Xbox One or your PC, or a keyboard and mouse on your Xbox 360 or Xbox One or PS3 or PS4. Spend under $100 on one of these and all these “my controller is better than your controller” arguments would go away. I seriously suggest that you should investigate the CronusMax if you have a favourite controller but want to play a on different console.

      I am going to see if I can get an original Xbox ‘after market’ controller called the ‘Radica Gamester FPS Master Controller’ to work on my Xbox 360 and my PS3 with the CronusMax. It probably won’t work but I am hoping it does. This controller was designed solely for FPS games; Google it. Your thumbs stayed on the thumb sticks full time as the A, B, X, and Y buttons resided under your middle and ring fingers of each hand. So you did not have to lose sight control if you chose a mêlée attack.


  • You’re wrong. They created so successful design design back in the 1997, that it lasted more than 10 years.
    One word – Perfection.

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