Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) on Tuesday announced plans to release its DualShock 3 wireless controller for its PlayStation 3 video game console in April. The new controller will cost $54.95.
Since the PlayStation 3 has shipped, the system has used what Sony calls a "Sixaxis" game controller. It looks almost identical to the gamepads that Sony makes for the PlayStation 2, but features internal gyroscoping capabilities so users can tilt the controller up, down, left and right to control the game.
The interactive capabilities of the Sixaxis controller drew criticism from some game reviewers and analysts because the controller lacks the distinctive "rumble" feature that was present in earlier generations of Sony controllers marked as "DualShock" products. Those devices utilized force feedback technology which would cause the controller to buzz and shake in the user's hands based on in-game actions, such as being hit or punched, or causing explosions.
Sony axed rumble capabilities from the Sixaxis controller after the company became involved in a lawsuit with haptics manufacturer Immersion Corp., which claimed that Sony violated its patents. In 2004 Sony paid Immersion $82 million in damages but then appealed the decision.
Sony initially dismissed rumble as a feature of older game systems that didn't need to be in the PlayStation 3. The company quickly changed its tune after Sony settled with Immersion once and for all in March of 2007. At that time, Sony President Kaz Hirai announced that Immersion and Sony were working on "exciting new ways" to incorporate rumble into PlayStation 3 games.
The DualShock 3 controller looks the same as the Sixaxis controller and retains Sixaxis capabilities. The new rumble feature in the DualShock 3 will work with more than 100 games already out for the PlayStation 3, according to Sony.