Sony tested Xbox stick layout for DualShock 4

Before settling on the largely-familiar design of the DualShock 4, Sony had experimented with a number of new controller ideas for PS4. One facet the company was mindful of was the placement of the analog sticks. Many shooter players have grown accustomed to the asymmetrical placement of both left and right sticks on Xbox 360's gamepad. Sony had to mull over whether or not they should follow. "For the analog sticks, we did test having the analog sticks on top, since the Xbox has the left side on top [above the D-pad]," Sony's Toshimasa Aoki said. "Especially from the shooter teams--we got feedback that that's what they wanted. They knew that consumers liked the 360 for shooters."

Wii U Pro Controller

Sony experimented with every possible combination of stick placement, even going so far as prototyping a controller with both analog sticks on top--much like the Wii U Pro Controller (above). However, Sony discovered that it didn't work. "People are used to having the buttons up there, and this moves the most-used button--the X--so far away [from your right thumb]," Aoki told VentureBeat. "If we moved the X up there, it just breaks all the muscle memory. 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 analog 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." Ultimately, "tradition" was what won out at Sony, with Aoki saying symmetrical sticks are part of the company's 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."