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SYFY WIRE PlayStation 5

Gaming: Sony reveals new PS5 controller; esports land at Facebook Gaming; more

By Benjamin Bullard
Sony PlayStation 5 DualSense controller

We finally have something real to feast our eyes on as we daydream and speculate about how the upcoming PlayStation 5 will look. While players everywhere await their first glimpse of the new console itself, Sony is giving fans a first look at the new PS5 controller — and it’s not overstating things to say it’s dramatically different.

Say goodbye to the DualShock. The new controller has a new name — DualSense — to go with its long list of features (which incidentally includes a dual color scheme). Sony revealed the controller via the official PlayStation Blog today, saying it’s been designed from the ground up to deliver the kind of haptic feedback (hence the “sense” in DualSense) that the next console generation of games will be able to support.

Did we mention it looks different? Check it out:

Sony PlayStation 5 DualSense controller
Sony PlayStation 5 DualSense controller
Sony says its goal with the DualSense was to preserve what fans loved about the PS4’s DualShock 4 controller, while “also adding new functionality and refining the design.”

“Based on our discussions with developers, we concluded that the sense of touch within gameplay, much like audio, hasn’t been a big focus for many games,” Sony explained in the reveal. “We had a great opportunity with PS5 to innovate by offering game creators the ability to explore how they can heighten that feeling of immersion through our new controller. This is why we adopted haptic feedback, which adds a variety of powerful sensations you’ll feel when you play, such as the slow grittiness of driving a car through mud. We also incorporated adaptive triggers into the L2 and R2 buttons of DualSense so you can truly feel the tension of your actions, like when drawing a bow to shoot an arrow.”

Tactile feedback isn’t the only trick up the DualSense’s sleeve. The “share” button has been repurposed as the “create” button, with Sony promising the new feature will keep the “share” function while adding yet-to-be announced features. The new controller also has a built-in microphone array, letting casual players chat without a headset.

As for the new two-tone color scheme, Sony says it’s an intentional departure from its single-hued controllers of old — but hasn’t yet revealed what color combos we can expect when the PS5 ships. The light bar has also been reconfigured to sit at the side of the touch pad — an aesthetic tweak Sony says “will give it an extra pop” and a “slightly larger look and feel.”

Not included in Sony’s big reveal is price — either for the controllers as standalone hardware or for the PS5 itself. With both Microsoft and Sony weighing the timing of their console releases as the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic swirls, both companies are still eying debut dates that fall sometime around the holiday season this year.

If the pandemic is toying with game companies’ console plans, at least it’s spurring new ideas to benefit players. Facebook Gaming reportedly is making an early pivot to esports, launching tournaments for amateurs ahead of schedule to entice more gamers to spend their time at home while waiting for the all-clear.

Venturebeat reports that the new tournaments, aimed at giving reluctant gamers a chance to throw their hat into the competitive fray, made their debut early this week as a way to help people through their self-isolating days at home. The bar for entry is intentionally low and accessible. “Anyone can organize or join a tournament, whether a casual competition among friends, a creator looking to play with their chat, or a global esports competition,” the report notes.

Because the tournaments are part of Facebook, they also can be streamed live as hosts create the events on the fly and invite players to join in. There’s even a fundraising tool to let tournament creators get behind the charity of their choice, and it’s all live, as of today, at Facebook Gaming.

At least it’s a great time to have gamers’ attention. New research from Nielsen reveals that people in the U.S. have upped their couch time with a controller in hand since the start of coronavirus-related social distancing.

Via THR, Nielsen’s survey for the week of March 23-29 reveals that people across the globe are spending more time playing video games while waiting out the pandemic, with 45 percent of players in the U.S. admitting to more game time — the most of any country Nielsen surveyed.

The poll of more than 3,000 people also found that people are playing online more (29 percent more in the U.S.), and that they’re spending more on games via digital download. “Thirty-nine percent of those polled in the U.S. said they now spend ‘somewhat or much more’ on video games, while the ‘share of wallet’ for games in the other markets is up at least 23 percent,” the report states.

Hey, theaters may be closed and TV shows may be pausing their new productions, but fortunately we’ve got at least one form of entertainment that’s ideal for weathering these socially-distant times. Until it’s clear to get out and about, we’ll be over here like the rest of the gaming world, going through that big stack of games we meant to play — but never did.