Sony files for universal game controller patent

PS3 maker devises LCD touch-screen-enabled gamepad that could work with Nintendo, Microsoft consoles, as well as legacy systems from Atari, Sega, and more.

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As was the trend throughout most of 2009, the US retail market for games was humbled in January, slipping 13 percent to $1.17 billion, according to the NPD Group. One segment to see growth, however, was accessories, which actually gained 2 percent over January 2009 with sales of $217 million. The sales climb represented the second consecutive month of year-over-year growth for accessories, having spiked 15 percent to $760.2 million in December.

The controller would use an LCD touch screen…

Sony may be making a move to better capitalize on that growth, were it to proceed to the manufacturing and distribution phase for a new controller patent application. The concept, which surfaced in the US Patent & Trademark Office's online database yesterday, details a "Universal Game Console Controller" that could "emulate the controllers of popular game consoles, such as…the PlayStation, a controller made by Nintendo, Xbox game controllers made by Microsoft, Amiga CD-32 controllers, Atari Jaguar controllers, Gravis Gamepad controllers, Sega controllers, and Turbographics [sic] controllers."

To do this, Sony's universal controller would incorporate a touch-screen LCD display that would lay out the button configurations of the various game pads. The filing notes that the controller's LCD display could only show one type of control scheme at a time, though up to three types of schemes could be stored in the controller. As could be guessed by the aforementioned controller list, consoles wouldn't need to be current to be compatible with the universal gamepad.

…and could work with the PS3, 360, and Wii.

"It may now be appreciated that among other advantages, the controller provides for backward compatibility so that it may be programmed to emulate the key layout of an older controller that may no longer be available," the filing reads. Sony's patent also notes that the LCD could be used as an alpha-numeric keyboard.

Controller data would be passed by way of a special receiver. The filing notes that the device could be loaded out with rumble functionality, as well as speakers. It could also be powered either by battery for wireless gameplay or by way of the communication receiver.

Discussion

473 comments
manga777
manga777

@ G_W_X they can because they technically are designing it for their system.

G_W_X
G_W_X

ER ARE THEY allowed to make a device for others people consoles without consequences? I would like to see Nintendo make an Xbox and Playstation Controller then...and Microsoft make a Nintendo and Playstation controller then? Er did I ask what is going on? Oh I didn't er...theeeen WTH is goin on here Sony? You've got some 'splaininNNN to do *spits foams and is expelled*

Auction_Sniper
Auction_Sniper

An interesting development......... but would they be selling socket connectors to use on all the old consoles?

puppet-master
puppet-master

I think I'll Patent the idea for a lcd keyboard for pc & mac ya know just in case the need arises. Lol lame idea...

blancobo
blancobo

This is a type of capitallization on overall market share control. This is quite a nice approach if perceived as a universal hardware accessory. My only deep concern lies on the true to nature generalization that many Sony products are quite expensive and this would not be the exception.

Cabal23
Cabal23

Epic Fail just based on the comments here. Go Play COD: Zombie on a Iphone and tell me you want to control games that way. Blech!

hectadectagon
hectadectagon

@yoshi_64 its the other way round, its for when you have older games on newer consoles. Rather then have a 'Classic' controller you plug into a Wiimote this controller would be able to just be a NES or SNES controller or a Master System etc... The reality is that this type of controller is pointless for anything other then 8bit console titles and if they plan on making Phones and/or a PSP that touchscreen which can be used on a PS3 or later. Although it needs L and R buttons to be really useful. The Dreamcast, N64, Xbox, etc.. except for Sony PS consoles were all different to the point that they have unique features. You can't play N64 Goldeneye on a controller like the one pictured, where exactly is the trigger? Like I mentioned previously, Sony has had a very similar design throughout the PS family, PS1 and 2 games on a PS3 are not challenged by different controller layouts, just how fast they can get them onto the PSN.

sbcosmicnut
sbcosmicnut

This is purely being done to block other companies from making one. Ignoring the problems with using a touchscreen controller, they would never get the liscenes. Most modern consoles include a security chip so you can't just put any piece of plastic together and call it a PS3/Xbox controller. I doubt the Microsoft will liscence Sony as a peripheral manufacturer!

laofuzi300
laofuzi300

Touch screens maby cool for playing RTS games on the console, but not other games.

akiwak
akiwak

An early version of a PS4 controller???

rarson
rarson

Terrible idea. Touch screens cannot replace buttons.

chibi-acer
chibi-acer

Yuck. Give me physical buttons anyway. I know this stuff works on the iPhone and such, but that doesn't mean I prefer it. I'd rather keep my box full of legacy wired controllers.

Awfultruth
Awfultruth

I guess it would make sense. i just like having a different controller for different games like xbox controllers for first person shooters, and ps3 controllers for rpgs. So i deff wouldn't be into to this but to each is own.

bonvoyage10122
bonvoyage10122

physical buttons will always win over touch screen for me... I'd like to feel where the buttons are, not constantly look down to find them. =d but maybe for others it will work

yoshi_64
yoshi_64

Touch screen buttons/interaction without looking at the device itself? This wouldn't sound good, also how would you get older systems to interact with this when they all have different controller ports? I could see today's system as the Xbox uses RF and the Wii uses Bluetooth (same as PS3), but go to Gamecube or the NES and anything between, and you're looking at finding a way to get ports for those devices where you can plug the receiver just to interact with the device? That won't work...

DemonRaptor
DemonRaptor

This isn't like the iPhone where you're looking at the controller as you're playing. If you can't feel the buttons it won't be a success.

awesome
awesome

@ Awfultruth I like he idea of using one pad for all systems, then i dont have to keep adapting my thumbs/fingers to a different pad whenever i choosed eto play a different console.. i 'feel' the games, not the systems...

Evilbannana1
Evilbannana1

@Awfultruth i just want to point out that the controller would change to the xbox controller when you are using an xbox, and vice versa for the ps3. read the article again and youll se what i mean.

artemis1990
artemis1990

I think this is wonderful as a lot of people complain about the fact that some controllers are'nt that great! If this one was designed much more ergonomically that before then it'll do wonders!

Awfultruth
Awfultruth

No one wants to use a ps3 controller when there playing xbox, and no one wants to play ps3 with an xbox controller. It takes away the feel of the system your playing.

elitefunk
elitefunk

@ sleepnsurf... you are retarded... I'm 6' and I still find the xbutt controllers too bulky, plus the sticks dont feel as good and the button layout is more stupid than you. your just mad cause you cant afford a ps3, get a job

sleepnsurf
sleepnsurf

Funny how all PS3 users bash 360 controls. Once you get above 5'6'' you'll understand that you hands are too big for those ancient ps1 controllers, ROFL.

dmdavenport
dmdavenport

I'd like to see a universal game console, too.

tremor33
tremor33

Looks promising. Sony's peripherals are always on the expensive side but I'd love to get my hands on one of these considering I do my fair share of retro gaming

DDR_Midian
DDR_Midian

Two points: 1. Just because they've registered a patent doesn't mean it's going to happen. These companies register dozens and dozens of them just to secure their future "in case" such tech is needed. 2. It's surprising to see such little mention of the iPhone. Games on that work amazingly well, but the layout of the buttons is such a hard thing to get right. Since there's no feedback from the controller the placement, size, and sensitivity all need to feel perfectly natural, and many games totally get it wrong. A few however... just work, really well. I can't see it overtaking regular controllers with buttons, but if you find yourself in a situation where you'd rather just have one controller to use with a bunch of different consoles then it could work. Let's not forget that if we're using an LCD screen it should be user configurable, it could provide the options to set up your own hotkeys for things such as DVD/Blu-Ray players, browser navigation, Playstation Home etc. It's work a try at the very least, if it fails... no harm done.

Sins-of-Mosin
Sins-of-Mosin

No matter what happens, it'll be too small, the buttons will be all wrong and thats if they include all the buttons that are needed. Conclusion, Sony should not be trying to make a new controller since they still using the basic design for over 10 years. The best controller for adults is easily the Xbox 360's. Perfect layout and size.

dannyatkinson
dannyatkinson

I am sorry but this sounds like a load of crap to me.

AjaxsLastStand
AjaxsLastStand

@Hydrolix In general, the answer is yes. Touch screens can be just as sensitive. You'll press down and it will register. Also, you'll never have to worry about a physical malfunction of a button, like the time my nephew managed to get caramel inside my 360 controller. God...I was pissed.

Hydrolix
Hydrolix

can a LCD recognize inputs fast enough to work as well as buttons?

gonzalezj1
gonzalezj1

I've never come out and said this about one of these patent articles before, but this sounds like a horrible idea. If the DS has taught us anything, it's that a touchscreen is great for some things - not so great for everything else. It's great to use for things like menu selection, drawing shapes and otherwise emulating a computer mouse. It's not so great at emulating an analogue stick or in-game buttons. This universal gamepad thing will not work because we need buttons to press. Thinking about trying to play Mario or God of War without being able to feel where the buttons are just sounds like a bad idea. Also, are they planning on figuring out a way for this to hook up to an Amiga or a Jaguar (seems pretty impractical) or is this a special PlayStation controller for use with a Sony equivalent of the Wii's Virtual Console?

MNBeta03
MNBeta03

This is a great idea... But take it one step further and allow the user to fully customize the button an positions from an index of older know controllers. I think it may be slow to be adopted due to the touchscreen learning curve and accidental taps but this is a truly innovative idea!

Incubus420
Incubus420

This is just a patent nothing to see here. They just want to get legal behind this. I am sure they won't make this because it would cast 100 bucks and noone would buy it.

JAB991
JAB991

It sounds like impressive tech, but buttons appearing on an LCD touchpad is a no go for me.

angelGP32
angelGP32

i think the question that needs to be asked is "atari Jaguar...really?" There's what...1 person that would use it for the jag? Other than the number pad, it's a bulky Genesis controller. I still don't understand how the shoulder buttons would work. Every system they list other than like 2, all have shoulder buttons. I do like the comment below of this being an App for ipod, that would be useful, but it wouldn't work in all situations, I just can't see how it would.

fkbwii
fkbwii

Pretty cool. It'll probably come out in 2 to 3 years

teen_akos
teen_akos

i think this will not be real :))

CharlesSteak
CharlesSteak

Well, it would certainly eliminate the Madden curve of having to bounce between solid PS controls and absolutely horrid Xbox controls. Now, if we can just get the Wii version to implement a classic control scheme for Madden....

FusionRain
FusionRain

Seems good for at least rpg players... but c'mon ppl this thing is really cool... tech wise. I don't know how useful it will be though... I say go ahead Sony but no one will really buy this unless they got the money or really hates there controller. My fav controllers 1 GameCube 2 PS3 (PlayStation series) 3 DDR Pad / Guitar ( they are controllers ) My worst controllers list 1 Wii Mote 2 Orig. Xbox (360 also) 3 N64

dwd_27
dwd_27

imagine if you put all your consoles on and the same time and you control all of them at the same time that would a good piece of tech

Th3_Gray_Ghost
Th3_Gray_Ghost

wow, it's awesome how everyone here is freaking out and complaining, does anyone else here realize this is probably just going to be an app for an iphone or a droid? Say your at a friends house and they only have 3 controllers and their are 4 of you and they want to play 4 player Tetris or Bomberman? Whip out your phone and there you go.

bobburd
bobburd

Silly. They must be joking around.

mrzero1982pt2
mrzero1982pt2

im down for that. hey, it would beat folks who have a ps3 and an xbox. if you have one console, and they have this controller, they could just download the xbox layout and play. these days if you have more than 1 controller, its odd because mostly everyone games online

the_mitch28
the_mitch28

useless if it doesn't have tactile respone

xninjagrrl
xninjagrrl

this seems sketchy at best, how do you emulate two thumbsticks on a lcd touchscreen?

ferrustaurus
ferrustaurus

it's so we can play video games like those futurist ship controlls where they touch flat panels and things go zoom. Great in sci-fi real life not so much :-)

Exactlamento
Exactlamento

meh...useful, but the thought of not having real plastic and buttons in my paws makes this a no-buy. And by emulators are they talking about ones on the computer, because you can already use a wired 360 controller for that. I see the appeal for lost old system controllers but that very VERY niche. I would like to see money put in elsewhere. The 2 percent increase is most likely circumstance. Your 360/PS3 controller's keys sticking or you need the complete 4 controllers for multiplayer= buy new controllers (and MW2 came out during this time too, hmmm). Bad investment.