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Why the DualShock Sucked


People often wonder whether others actually buy games based on controller preference and if it’s a big deal. Well to me, yes, it is a big deal. I definitely buy games on one platform over another purely for the controller feel.

If I’m playing a game, I want to be comfortable doing it and I do not find the DualShock 3 or any of its mildly different precursors to be comfortable. In my view, it was an ergonomic nightmare that is easily supplanted by just about every other first party controller offering since its debut with the original PlayStation. It just sucks.

So, what’s wrong with the DualShock? Simple. The DualShock is nothing more than an original PlayStation controller with two analog sticks slapped on the bottom, reworked L2 and R2 buttons (for the better) and a couple of built-in rumble motors. That’s it. That was my first clue that there wasn’t a lot of time put into this controller design. After all, this was introduced a year after the Nintendo 64 launched and Sony wanted to offer an analog controller too going forward.


The problem is, they clearly didn’t think the design through. As a result, the DualShock placed what is arguably the most important input for 3D gaming in the wrong spot and leaves the D-Pad directly under your left thumb. This would be fine if gaming remained mostly on a 2D plane where binary on/off button presses you get from the D-Pad remained the standard but clearly, that wasn’t to be. Nintendo saw it and eventually, so did Sony, which is why the DualShock was developed and released in the first place and the old analog stick-less controller was retired.

But the fundamental design flaws that were the symmetrical analog stick placement and overall poor ergonomic design weren’t questioned for two generations because Sony had such a commanding lead and people simply got used to it. They pretty much had to or miss out on what was, almost unquestionably, the best console libraries across two generations (personal preference notwithstanding).

The DualShock 4 is a huge improvement because Sony actually gave serious thought to ergonomics for a second time. Yes, a second time. They originally offered a redesigned DualShock controller with the first unveiling of the PlayStation 3 in 2005 which was met with almost universal dislike. So this time, they didn’t try to reinvent the wheel and produce something as utterly ludicrous (but probably really comfortable in hindsight) as the infamous boomerang that quickly became the butt of jokes across the internet shortly after its debut.


This is why we can’t have nice things. Sure the boomerang, or whatever the hell it was called, looked silly (really, really silly) but at least Sony actually put some thought into the design. It looked stupid but made sense. But change, even for the better, is a hard thing to force onto people and people are loud. So it was scrapped and we got the DualShock 3. Except it was worse. The controller was pretty much the same except for two of the worst analog triggers I’ve ever seen on a controller.

But, for all the things Sony has gotten right with the DualShock 4, namely the better face buttons, the better triggers, ergonomically designed for human hands and not some sort of alien…mandible things, they still put the D-Pad, an antiquated input method that is only useful for navigating menus and 2D games, in the spot directly under your thumb, which is just silly.

Nonetheless, if you’re one of the folks who likes the DualShock design, disregard everything I’ve said and keep liking it. But to act as if the DualShock wasn’t fundamentally flawed is foolish in my view and is one of the main factors in why it took Sony so long to reconsider their design in the first place and the reason their first redesign was laughed at. Maybe it wouldn’t have been that good but I wish Sony had been given the chance to try it or at least offer gamers the choice.


But, Sony got it mostly right this time around and crafted a controller that’s truly comfortable to hold and was met with universal approval. In my opinion, based purely on sight and not on actual usage, the DualShock 4 is a mostly brilliant re imagining of what is, for better or for worse, a classic controller design. It’s still flawed due to the symmetrical analog stick placement, which I don’t like but I’m sure I’ll get over once I get a PS4 of my own.

About Justin McBride

My name is Justin McBride and I’m a guy who enjoys writing, playing games and writing about playing games. Sound lame enough yet? Well, I have other interests as well such as hanging out with friends, watching TV, going to the movies from time to time, surfing the internet, listen to good music, drive at speeds I shouldn’t be driving at and so on. The problem is, that’s all stuff everyone likes to do, so why write about it? Oh wait, seems I just did. Oops.

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  • Austin McDowell

    And this is coming from the person who talked shit about PS3 gamers awhile back. Fuck You.

  • Greg Skies

    blah blah blah….whine…blah blah. ….I didn’t bother to read.

  • And yet you took the time to comment! Thanks for stopping by!

  • What a mature response! I’m going to take a guess and say you’re one of the folks I was ranting about!

  • Greg Skies

    As soon as I saw the title, I knew it was going to be filled with a bunch of bs. S o I didn’t bother to read the rest. I didn’t have any problems with the dual shock,

  • Jason Mounce

    “But the fundamental design flaws that were the symmetrical analog stick placement”

    LOL! Because by all means, us humans have asymmetrical arms/hands, rite? Apparently, quite some idiotic reasoning we got here and then-some.

  • Asymmetrical analog stick placement places the two most important inputs
    for 3D games (the analog stick and face buttons) directly under your
    thumbs. Symmetrical placement gets only one of those right (the face

    It’s pretty simple, really.

  • Jason Mounce

    There’s a little something you might have to accept. It’s called:

    SUBJECTIVE OPINION….That of which? Your opinion is not a ‘fact’, so stop acting like it is. Mr. Special Snowflake.

    It is indeed simple, but that doesn’t make your reasoning any less flawed. You cannot attack a design on the basis that it doesn’t match your preferences and thus it must be wrong.

  • You’re certainly a special one, aren’t you?

    Did you not realize that this was an “editorial”, Meaning everything contained within is my opinion from the start? Or did you jump to the conclusion that I’m presenting my opinion as undeniable fact, as you’ve just done?

    My money’s on the latter.

    But whatever. Don’t take my opinion for it. I do find it odd that just about everyone is finding the DualShock 4 to be such a massive improvement over its predecessor, which would imply that there was quite a bit of room for improvement…as I argued here…

  • Jason Mounce

    Editorial or not. Your attitude is bad and you should feel bad. 🙂 You sure do try to act big on while sitting on a soap box, or on your steed, whichever you prefer. Both sound accurate.

    Now let me school you a bit. You mention “But the fundamental design flaws” – is that you’re targeting the design itself as a whole, is Flawed. Your saying IT is flawed, not that it’s flawed ‘TO YOU’. You’re either making a horrible excuse to cover up silly bias or you simply have no idea ‘How to English’. At your conclusion for instance, you do it right by stating that: “due to the symmetrical analog stick placement, which I don’t like”

    Emphasis on the “Which I don’t like”. Is right. Your prior statements? Inaccurate. Learn the difference.

  • Oh, I’m sorry, am I required to explain that everything I say in a post I’ve tagged as an “editorial” is my opinion? Am I supposed to say “in my opinion” before and/or after every statement I make? No, because that would lead to quite a bit of redundancy throughout the editorial.

    Before you try to school someone on “How to English”, you should probably first learn how to properly debate. When writing or reading an editorial, it is assumed that everything stated within (unless stated otherwise) is the writer’s opinion. Ergo, it is perfectly logical and valid to assume that everything I said is my opinion. If I wanted to argue that what I’m saying is fact, I would’ve gathered evidence to support such a statement, because I actually know how to properly debate. 😀

    Feel free to disagree! That’s what the internet is all about! The freedom to express one’s opinions!

  • Jason Mounce

    Before you try to school someone on “How to English”, you should probably first learn how to properly debate.

    How many times did you have to rehearse this dubious line in the mirror before you presented that to me?

  • Nothing of any substance left to say? I thought as much.

  • Jason Mounce

    😛 Course not. You’re all sizzle and no steak.

    Why argue with someone who’s clearly as stubborn and misconstrued? Waste of energy, waste of time. Besides, a voice of reason against the voice of stupidity is better interpreted by macro-sociology, not Micro. Let’s wait and see all the people who come to agree with you, compared to all those who think you a delinquent. The answer? Already obvious to me. I shouldn’t have to paint an image for you. Your opinion is bad and you should feel bad is a proper enough summary for a mind such as yours.

  • So basically, your argument is “I don’t like your opinion and you should feel bad for having it!” Very mature and well thought out. No actual proof or evidence to back your silly assertion, just an ad hominem. Brilliant!

    Here’s a newsflash for ya kid, I couldn’t care less if you or anyone else agrees with me, you simpleton. I wrote and posted this because I felt like it, not to curry favor among the denizens of the internet. You don’t like my opinion? Fine. I promise I won’t lose any sleep over it.

    Also, to misconstrue is to misinterpret. A person cannot be a verb. I could be misconstrued, if you misinterpreted what I said but “misconstrued” is not a state of being for a person. Perhaps misinformed was the word you’re looking for. It would be incorrect, but at least it would make sense in that sentence.

    And he says I’m the one who needs to learn “how to English”. What a lark!

    And hey, if you really think arguing with me is a waste of time because I’m the stubborn one, perhaps you should look in the mirror and consider dropping it and stop trying to sneak the last word in! Seriously, whose time are you wasting here? It’s clearly not mine!