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Sony has a patent for a new PlayStation controller

The controller patent features two new buttons

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DualShock 4 controller for PlayStation 4 Image: Sony
Austen Goslin (he/him) is an entertainment editor. He writes about the latest TV shows and movies, and particularly loves all things horror.

On Dec. 26, Sony was approved for a patent on a new type of PlayStation controller. The patent is on the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) database, but it isn’t quite clear what Sony intends to do with the controller. The patented was spotted on Dec. 27 by Bleeding Cool, via Reddit.

The design itself is similar to the familiar DualShock 4 design that most players are used to with the PlayStation 4. The new controller has the same layout for its face buttons, directional pad, and analog sticks. The only real departure on the front of the controller is that there’s no PlayStation button visible on the patent design.

The back of the controller is where things get a little more interesting. The patent contains potential designs for the new controller — though they aren’t final — that include two new buttons. The new buttons appear to be programmable to perform the functions of other buttons on the controller, so you could have them do the same thing as the circle or square buttons if you wanted.

A design from the Sony 12/26 patent filing for a new controller Image: Sony via WIPO

The two back buttons can be activated with triggers in most of the proposed designs. While they seem to be located directly behind the analog sticks on most of the proposed layouts in the patent, there is mention that they might move to other places. This could mean that the controller is customizable, or just that Sony wants to cover its bases for possible design iterations.

While this new patent’s timing is a little conspicuous considering the PlayStation 5 is set to come out in 2020, there is no indication which PlayStation this controller is actually designed for. It’s worth noting that the proposed design does feature a micro-USB port on the top of the controller, the same as the DualShock 4, while the PlayStation 5 controller is supposed to have a USB-C port instead, so it’s possible this is an iteration of the older controller.

The idea of placing customizable triggers on the back of controller isn’t new. SCUF’s PlayStation controllers and Microsoft’s Xbox Elite controllers also feature customizable triggers. Sony has never created its own first-party controller with this feature, though.

Sony announced in December it’s releasing a new peripheral called the Back Button Attachment, which adds programmable paddles to the back of a standard DualShock 4 controller. It’s expected to launch in January 2020 for $29.99. It’s possible Sony is using this peripheral to make PS4 controllers compatible with the upcoming console, especially if Sony’s new patented design is for a PlayStation 5 controller.

Because this design is just a patent, there’s no guarantee the controller will actually be released. Sony could just be locking down a potential design for the future.

Update: This post has been updated to reflect the original reporting and linking of the patent.