Monday, March 5, 2007

Let's Get Ready To Rumble!!!

Okay, so it's nothing but internet fanboy rumors at this point, but it's still worth mentioning - rumble may be coming back to the PlayStation controller.

For those of you that don't know, let's get you some education. A while back, Sony was sued by a company called Immersion for patent infringement of its rumble technology. Immersion patented the rumble technology that all consoles use to make that lovely bouncing happen in your controller. It seems that Sony implemented rumble on its PS2 controllers (aka "Dual Shock") without licensing the technology from Immersion. So Immersion sued, and Sony got tied up in a court battle.

All this was during the time that the PS3 was being developed. Since they were at odds with Immersion, Sony couldn't put rumble in the PS3 controller. So, instead of Dual Shock 2.0, we got SixAxis. But now, finally, the two companies have agreed to a settlement, and Sony is back in the good graces with the fine folks at Immersion (a $150 million paycheck will do that).

Sony has not actually come out and publically announced that rumble will be incorporated on any future PS3 controllers, but they have stated that they will work with Immersion on future projects. And the timing of this has to be considered a little suspect - with GDC coming up later this week, an announcement about rumble may be a possibility.

There's just one thing. Sony, if you do decide to bring rumble back to the PS3, please do it right. Don't alienate the existing console base by making a hardware change to the console. Figure out a way to implement this on a software level in a free firmware upgrade, and let people just buy a new controller. If you leave all the early, die-hard fans out in the cold on this one, you'll be shooting yourself in a place much worse than the foot. Yes, I'm talking about the yam bag.

Even if this just means that we'll see rumble on the PS4, this is still a good thing. I'm not a huge fan of rumble, but I don't like seeing features removed from a console. Especially when the console's direct competitors are offering those very same features. With any luck, this will be the first step on Sony's long road back into the good graces of the fans.

Now can we have a price drop?

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