​The Guys Who Designed The First Xbox Critique The PS4

 The Guys Who Designed the First Xbox Critique the PS4

It's one thing to think about the PS4 as a black box that delivers games and services to your TV. It's entirely another to look at it as a piece of design itself. The studio who crafted the imposing look of the first Xbox did exactly that. And hey, they think the DualShock 4 rocks, too.

Fast Company has John Mabry and Roger Jackson of Teague discussing the angled look and finishes of the console, along with the re-designed, now-with-touchpad controller:

Overall, the new controller feels solid, not light and toy-like like the previous generation. While the footprint doesn't deviate far from the original, a subtle increase in scale makes the redesign feel just right. A unique texture on the bottom improves grip and gives the controller a high-end feel.

Next in line — the slanted, angular body. On its own we liked the effect — it adds visual interest and energy to the form — but is that really the best choice for a box that will likely live side-by-side with the rectangular boxes that fill most of our living rooms? Probably not. On a functional note, we found the angle makes installation unnecessarily difficult as it obscures visibility for cable connection in the back.

The points made about how the console should essentially disappear design-wise and play second fiddle to the controller are interesting ones. How often do you pull a console out of a nook just to look at it? Pretty rarely. The controller is where a game comes alive and the DualShock 3 was a relic. Good thing Sony improved the PS4 one, then.


    For day 1 this gen I've chosen the XBone because of the controller - though from what I've heard the new PS4 controller is more comfortable to use for longer periods. May be reason to buy one after all - once a serious must have exclusive comes along.

      Im a sony fanboy as far is it goes but I'm not getting PS4 this year. I dont see the point! If I did that I'd be completely missing out on Ryse, DR3 and Forza 5 all for what?! To play Knack?! Pretty stoked to crossover for this gen as well - I'll have both in no time but for now the Xbone will do just fine! Forza and DR3 are my day one purchases I'm not 100% sold on Ryse but I'm keen to get it once I finish DR3!

      Having briefly tried both controllers, I prefer the PS4 controller over the xbone controller, personally. They've gone backwards from the (in my opinion) perfect 360 controller.

    Its actually interesting what he says about the angle obscuring the cables making installation more difficult. It's definitely true, but from what I've read, Sony did it intentionally to hide the jacks and make the box look neater on the shelf.

    Seriously keen to try the new Dual Shock too, though I'd have preferred offset sticks.

    On a functional note, we found the angle makes installation unnecessarily difficult as it obscures visibility for cable connection in the back.

    You mean that ONE TIME i plug in the power and ethernet cables it could be slightly difficult if i try and do it without turning the console around 90 degrees like a normal person? OH NOES!!!

    On another note, they designed the look of the original xbox, so they have no design legs to stand on. Just an unnecessarily huge, ugly, black crate.

      Their comments suggest that the original XBOX design was explicitly intended to be a black crate, much like the PS2 was, so that it blended in with other black square home entertainment equipment.

        So why was it twice as big as everything else out there and have big green orbs and grills (for decoration) on it?

      Why do you have to be like that? Is it a nervous compulsion you have no control over? Or are you suggesting that you know better than industrial design professionals because you don't really like xbox or have some infantile fanboyism towards one console or the other?

      It may not inconvenience you, but it is a strange (even poor) design choice. One that, as you said, may be a non-issue if you only plug your console in once and leave it there, but for those who move their console all the time, or like me, have one HDMI cable that they swap between their current consoles depending on which they want to play, it could get annoying.

      And the original xbox design fit the current trends of console development at the time, and definitely conveyed the notion of a superior machine in power and grunt than both the ps2 and gamecube. They built it to look mean and powerful. It also pioneered the genius idea of controller cables with safety detach points so overzealousness on the part of the players didn't pull the whole thing off the table / cabinet, which can't really be denied.

        Why do I have to be like that? Why do THEY have to be like that? Nitpicking the tiniest thing that MAY inconvenience a tiny amount of people just seems like sour grapes to me. Get a splitter or a hub or a tv with more HDMI inputs or something to make your life easier, don't whinge to me about it.

        It's neither a strange nor poor design choice to have the inputs at the back, most if not ALL appliances have inputs at the back, the diagonal lean to the exterior doesn't even enter into it as you have to lean right over ANY appliance to see where the inputs are, or like i said, turn it around 90 degrees...

        The original xbox is unnecessarily large AND ugly, that's a fact. I don't care what the 'current trends' are, if you think that being 'good' means adhering to trends you obviously know very little about design. One of the reasons the PS2 design was so interesting was because it was DIFFERENT and didn't follow the trend of things designed to appeal to 12 year olds.

          The original xbox is unnecessarily large AND ugly, that's a fact.

          No it's not. That's opinion.

          I picked up the original Xbox later on during that gen to play Halo after owning a PS2 and I have to say I thought the design of the Xbox (albeit extremely large) to be kickass. The green pulsing button on the front was really cool for the time and it kicked off the whole visual error reporting thing with the color of the light and how it would pulse. I think most people just dislike it because of the size, shrink it down and it would be even more awesome. How is a big visual X that forms a large part of the outer casing not different?

          The controller (also being large) was a really great design that I think they refined with the Xbox360. I still think that Microsoft wins hands down with their controller designs. Even in this gen I think Microsoft are 1-up on Sony with their controller design.

          These guys are industrial designers and you don't get hired by Microsoft as an industrial designer if you're not talented. You might not like their work, but that's personal preference. Not everyone likes the big dangling dick on the statue of David, doesn't mean the f*cking thing is not an artistic masterpiece. I think they have the skill, the qualifications and experience to offer critique and I found it thoroughly interesting.

          Last edited 20/11/13 5:04 pm

            Plenty of big, ugly, useless, gimmicky crap has been made by big companies. Just because Microsoft are big and (maybe) pay lots of money for (apparently) talented industrial designers it doesn't mean everything they make is perfect and amazing.

            Also don't ever compare art and design.

              If you took the time to read what I wrote rather than work yourself into a little tizz was that I wasn't comparing art to design. I was merely pointing out your little rage war against the xbox and their designers is purely personal preference.

              Whether or not you have an eye for good design or good art is inconsequential. Just don't pass off your views as fact. That's just wrong.

                Why bring up the statue of David then? People's 'opinions' don't enter into it when you consider how fundamentally different design is from art. Form and function are completely different to outright creativity. The fact remains whether something is designed well CAN be measured, unlike the creativity of art. Whether something is designed well for it's purpose/demographic/practicality/function is what DEFINES good design.

                Apples and Oranges my friend.

                  Look dude you're getting all caught up on the minute of his argument, art vs design isn't what we're talking about here. You know why the Xbox was so much bigger than the PS2? They fit a hard-drive and integrated ethernet in there.

                  You shouldn't blindly follow trends, but to ignore them is irresponsible at best. The Xbox was designed and released at a time where gamers were very much still seen as the teenage male demographic. It looked the way it did because the rules were different then.

                  This wasn't the era of multimedia hubs and smart phones. They weren't vying for control of your whole living room. Back then, the consoles were strictly for their target audience, the hardcore audience. Especially the Xbox. This is coming from a company that traditionally sold software, not hardware, and they didn't have the design motifs inherent in Sony's appliances at the time (which kept the PS2 looking fairly restrained, but note they still did go for the black with highlight colour approach also used in the Xbox). They basically started from scratch and came up with something that filled the same niche as those Alienware computers do. They look powerful, 'cool' (in the perceived eyes of their target market) and unique. So did the Xbox.

                  Unlike you, i'm not going to make assumptions about what you do and do not know, but I actually am a designer, and it's sort of my job to know why these decisions are made and how things like the slanted back of the PS4 could prove to be an inconvenience. The form should always follow the function, and keeping that in mind, the back angle should really have been allowed to happen. One could also make the argument that if the back is never seen, and the cables are never rearranged/removed/changed, then why do you need that back slant at all? Surely the front slant would suffice?

                  And for the record, I preferred the PS2's design over the Xbox's, but I actually approach these things with a bit of awareness, not blindly discounting one or the other for flimsy reasons.

      Sony fanboys are funny when they're in panicked damage control.

    It's a poor design choice of xbox to have the usb ports at the back.

      There is one to the side. However given where I will be putting it there wont be too much space each side for this to be very effective for me.

    Well casings can get revised without affecting the internals. Sony got the internals right.
    I use to install home theatre for a living. An angled top to a 'hot box' (ie the one on top of the rack/cupboard) makes the unit look really neat. As discussed; Sonys' intention!

    For people who bought the cheap tv with not enough HDMIs, don't risk frying consoles with constant swapping of the HDMI cable (yes it happens! most people not powering down their equipment prior to unplugging, 'Hotswapping' is never ideal. Heck my playstation lost stereo sound output because I once plugged the RCA/Phono plugs in whilst it was on. (I even got to see the minute lil spark that did it!).
    If Sony are discouraging their consumers to keep swapping HDMI cables, then that will save their business money by less 'repairs' for the newbie consumers.
    This can happen to any piece of electronics, not specific to ANY brand...

    But whilst we are on Console design....
    Sure the Xbox nailed it with controller cables that would detach (they had to as the console housed a hard drive that would not like 'bumps'), they stripped an IDE channel from the internals so games devs could not stream from disc AND access the harddrive, a cost saving of $0.XX that held back incredible potential for games designers.

    Microsoft entered the market doing what they do best (which is not innovation, but profit mongering).
    This gen it will burn them, cause there were loyalists to Sony that were willing to work with tricky hardware to get incredible performance in previous generations.
    Now everyone is loving that Sony has an easy system to make games for, but how many exlusive IPs are going to keep M$ comparable (without similar system grunt) in this gen??

    After a shortwhilst when even the dedicated M$ loyalists, the ones that say the controller is more comfortable, therefor end arguement; realise the power and comfort (as well as price) fall to Sony in this round.
    As long as they are willing to swap Forza for some other race game, homeostasis shall be found.
    Roll on Sony for the win.
    (my bias' is against these two big players, as both Sony and Microsoft are the two greatest examples of companies gone wrong, but I have to take my hat off to Sony for trying to get better)

    Not sure if they will ever patch their stuff to be user orientated the way westerners expect, but hey, taking what they are offering, for what they are offering it; they simply have smashed it outta the park on this one. (and that isn't just remote play on vita that has me going Yay)
    getting the video chips right is a big thing, and I'd hate to have to use CPU to post effect the same stuff that good vid cards should do in the first place.
    And lets face it, there is enough CPU in both boxes for great physics and AI.
    Programmers have to write for lowest common denominator in the CPU (when going multiplatform) and then just up the eye candy based on remaining video power.
    PS4 will have better looking, and Sony are wanting to do more with it.
    Microsoft just want a consumer box in our loungeroom as a gateway to spend money on their services and service partners.

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