Should We Innovate Controllers?

Do you think companies should try to innovate controllers or keep the standard DualShocker format?

Dual analog format.

I assume you’re asking because this video was just put out:

I think the dual analog controller is the best controller for the majority of third person games. The trouble with innovating in controllers is you need to come up with one standard that works for a ton of games. In the arcade days, they could and did make controllers unique to every individual game.

What I think needs innovation is the mouse/keyboard, but it’s also the hardest space to sustainably innovate in. Console creators can set controller standards when they make a new console to whatever they want them to be and customers have to comply. PCs have a ton of peripherals, but apart from joysticks like flight sticks, few have really caught on enough to sustain more than niche genres. You can’t even really assume players have extra mouse buttons like a lot of gamer mice have. (I have a Zowie FK, it has 2 extra buttons on both sides, I don’t get a lot of use out of them and am frankly not even used to using them as a result)

If you’ve tried playing a dark souls game on PC, you’d know how weird it can be. The mouse is like the face buttons on a controller, but you only have 3 buttons instead of 4, and one of them isn’t that easily accessible. You need to sacrifice directional control to get more than 2-3 buttons over on the keyboard side. The total number of directly accessible buttons goes down on PC relative to console, so it’s harder to have a large number of directly actionable commands in FPS games. As a result we don’t have FPS weapons that have 6 different attacks, we have 3 different FPS weapons with 2 attacks each. Back on dark souls, it’s really easy to light attack and heavy attack, but functions like blocking and parrying get put on weird keys, especially considering they need to be held or pushed actively to really be effective.

Games with less emphasis on camera movement and more on direct access to face buttons naturally don’t work at all on PC, like DMC4.


Of course this only works because he abandoned the mouse, and it’s far from an ideal layout.

I think for controlling the types of games that are most popular today, 3rd person 3d and 2d games where the character is like a rigged up pawn that moves through space playing premade animations on top of its rig, current dual analog controllers are best. To make new types of games though, we might have to branch out.

A friend pointed out to me that VR might actually be helpful there for third person games, because it can free up the right analog stick, allowing more attention to be devoted to the face buttons while you can look around your character in third person. Definitely not consistent with the VR immersion dream, but I reluctantly admit that VR might have some uses.

The further problem with innovating in controllers is, you gotta make a game that uses it fully, like Wii Sports, not tacked on.

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