DualShock 4 is about to revolutionize the gaming industry
Don’t laugh. Go ahead and be skeptical, but make no mistake about it. The touchpad on the new PlayStation 4 controller is about to be a real game changer. In a way, it already is. This is no gimmick folks. Consider the touchpad on the DualShock 4 as the “evolution of gaming”. Let me explain.
First, let’s look at PS4 vs. Xbox One. From a controller perspective, the touchpad is huge. It’s a massive competitive advantage. I would go so far as to suggest Microsoft may need to redesign their beloved Xbox controller design. Up until now, it’s been button for button. No separation between the consoles regarding controllers. In fact before the DualShock 4 you could make an argument easily that the Xbox controller was FPS friendly and in fact pwned the DualShock 3. A lot of people would agree with that. Now after reading and seeing the DualShock 4 reviews, you get the sense that there are no shortcoming in the PlayStation controller.
If you think about the Microsoft or competitive aspect of this, you might question whether the addition of a touchpad could actually sway people from buying one console over another. Perhaps the early adopters have their minds made up, but how about the majority of people? When people are seriously looking at either console, don’t you think all the feedback and discussion on the internet will play a role? Sure it will. If gamers are raving about the touchpad and there is only one console with that feature? The competitive edge grows more and more. Sure, it’s entirely possible that the touchpad could flop. Even if it’s underutilized by game developers, I hardly see that as being considered a failure or detractor from people buying the PlayStation 4 over the Xbox One.
Still with the competitive edge theme, consider that game developers could add gameplay features that can only be done on the PlayStation 4. For the lazy game developer I could see them wanting to keep the Xbox One experience the same as the PlayStation 4 experience. If not, then you would have gamers talking about how cool it is to do “this move” or “that move” using the touchpad whereas the Xbox One gamers would feel slighted because they don’t have that ability or option. In other words, suddenly the Xbox One experience on the same game becomes less. All that because of a simple touchpad? Again it really comes down to whether game developers “choose” to incorporate the new opportunities that come from the touchpad. I can guarantee you that if the Xbox One had the same touchpad feature, the game developers would put resources into how they could enhance the gameplay or add elements to the game that they otherwise could only dream about. Instead, we might be faced with most game developers taking the high road and giving the PS4 gamers the same gameplay as the Xbox One gamers. That would be a shame, but it’s entirely possible. At the start at least. If you look at Battlefield 4 for example, try finding out anywhere on the internet where they mention how the DualShock 4 touchpad has been utilized. I can’t find anything and that game has been demoed a lot recently. Imagine no mention of additional gameplay features by EA regarding Battlefield 4? I feel shortchanged on that one already.
Sucker Punch and their Infamous: Second Son game is showing off the touchpad controls in the game. Yes, Sucker Punch is a Sony property, but none the less, they have gone out of their way (no surprise there) to show off how the touchpad is being used in this upcoming game. A recent article on Polygon.com explains different features and gameplay abilities thanks to the touchpad. Here are some of the more relevant quotes from that article:
- stealth kills, for example, require players to put their thumbs on both ends of the touchpad
- “You have these big moves, bread and butter awesome gameplay things; that’s joystick and button territory,” Fox said. “But when we wanted to do something a bit more subtle, something that’s a bit more personal, we go to the touchpad because there’s a fidelity of control. Frankly, it’s a good change of pace. It kind of resets you on the bigger things. That’s kind of how we draw the line on when we do the touchpad and when we go for huge effects.” – Infamous: Second Son Director Nate Fox
So as you could imagine, if game developers really start utilizing and evolving gameplay to use the touchpad, it puts the Xbox One user base at a disadvantage with feelings of inadequacy. No doubt the PS4 gamers would be getting a overall better and more enhanced experience. As I’ve already pointed out, it’s questionable whether the game developers will actually spent time or resources to maximize the potential that the touchpad provides. Aha, but I have a solution for those weak minded game developers. How about at the very least, give the gamers themselves the power. Allow for touchpad mapping! Give me the ability to decide what the touchpad works best for in a FPS environment. Give that a couple months and gamers themselves will indicate how important or not important the touchpad can become. Frankly I don’t want to have the DualShock 4 in my hands and NOT be able to use it simply because a game developer chose to take the easy way out. If they can’t give me the ability to map the touchpad at the very least? I can tell you I will be shopping instead for the games that support the touchpad. In fact, I suggest this for a marketing campaign:
This game supports the PlayStation 4 (DualShock 4) touchpad.
That’s all I would need to know. A game displaying that statement will be bought by me over a game that doesn’t have that statement. A certification symbol or some time of identifying item on a video game box would do the trick. Do you feel the same way? Frankly I don’t want to have to sift through reviews to find out whether I’m getting the Xbox One version (no touchpad support) or if I’m getting a PlayStation 4 version (touchpad support). It’s obvious which version has more value. The game that allows more buttons or actions to be mapped on the controller is simply better, more advanced and more “next generation”.
The worst thing that can happen is to have this new control mechanism and have it sit idle while I’m playing a game on the PlayStation 4. To me there is no excuse for that. If the control exists, the burden is on the game developers to make use of it. If it doesn’t have in-game functionality, then perhaps it’s a matter of not wanting to hurt Microsoft’s feelings? Perhaps you might have a better explanation. I want and will demand that games for the PlayStation 4 support the touchpad. It will be up to Microsoft to redesign their controller (I’m talking about right now) and perhaps bring it to market mid life or earlier. It might sound crazy, but if, and I say “if” the touchpad is embraced by game developers, the competitive advantage for Sony will grow and grow.
Keep one thing in mind. Not all gamers are dead set on Xbox or PlayStation. There are some people who will take reviews and impressions and make a purchase decision based on that information. If people are raving about the touchpad? It’s something the Xbox One simply cannot provide. Sure it’s hard to imagine people “raving” about a touchpad, but who knows. It’s a new design and when that happens, we are at the beginning of a new era. We don’t know yet the potential that can be unlocked. That’s going to be up to the brilliant minds that create the video games.
Make no mistake about it. The touchpad on the DualShock 4 will revolutionize the gaming industry but it’s up to the game developers to embrace and utilize this new frontier.