Did you know the rumble tech in all modern video game controllers is produced by a single source? Yup, the rumble in the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch controllers all comes from a company called Immersion, which has dominated the market since the N64 days, although that doesn’t mean it’s all equal.
While Microsoft and Nintendo have invested in new Immersion-developed force feedback tech, with the Switch’s HD Rumble being the latest innovation, Sony has pretty much rested on their laurels. In fact, according to Immersion, the fancy DualShock 4 is still running tech from the late 90s when rumble was first introduced.
As part of the company’s recent earnings report, Immersion CEO Vic Viegas took Sony to task for their dated tech:
“Sony is the only major console provider, who has basically not updated its rumble feature since the late 90s. Whereas others, like our licensees Microsoft and Nintendo have continued their investments in advanced haptics. Microsoft has introduced trigger functionality in the Xbox One and Nintendo has leaped ahead of the market with HD rumble.”
Sony and Immersion haven't always got along, with the two waging legal battles that have resulted in some PlayStation controllers shipping without force feedback. So that may explain Sony's reluctance to shell out for new tech.
A lot of gamers tend to dismiss rumble as unimportant, but it’s one of those things you only miss once it’s gone. Try switching it off next time you play a horror game like Resident Evil 7 – you’ll definitely feel like the experience has been diminished somewhat. There’s also no doubt the Nintendo Switch’s HD Rumble is a significant improvement over the PS4s dated tech once you’ve actually tried it. Hopefully the PS5, whenever that may arrive, will see Sony finally investing in some new rumble tech. It won’t be the system’s most important feature, but that’s no reason to ignore it.
You can check out WWG’s latest PlayStation coverage here.