Sony recently confirmed that the controller for its upcoming PlayStation 4 console will be compatible with Microsoft Windows. While it's always good to have another choice in the hunt for a quality PC peripheral, the PS4 controller will hardly shake the foundations of the PC gaming world.
Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony Computer Entertainment, confirmed the news via Twitter. When a fan inquired whether the PS4's DualShock 4 controller would function on a Windows PC, Yoshida replied, "For basic functions, yes."
Fans on Twitter asked for clarification, since technically, the PS3's DualShock 3 controller also works on a PC if you install a number of workarounds and fool the computer into recognizing it as a Windows device. "Wait for field report after the launch," Yoshida wrote, and left it at that.
The information is interesting, especially considering that Microsoft's own Xbox One controller will not function with PCs until a patch comes in 2014. Considering Sony has never been a major player in the PC gaming market, it's somewhat surprising that a Sony controller will work with a PC at all.
Still, the question remains as to whether a PS4 controller for Windows will have any profound impact on either PC or PS4 gaming. If the DualShock 4 resembles the DualShock, DualShock 2 and DualShock 3 in feel and responsiveness, it will be a good controller. At present, though, the PC is spoiled for choice when it comes to good controllers.
There are hundreds of controllers for computers, ranging from joysticks to flight simulators to racing wheels. Many controllers resemble traditional console peripherals, and are perfect for third-person action games, retro platformers or first-person-shooter fans who were weaned on console hits like "Halo" and "Call of Duty" rather than on the mouse-and-keyboard-centric "Doom" and "Half-Life."
Not to put too fine a point on it, but many PC controllers are basically PlayStation controllers in everything but name.
Tom's Guide has had a chance to go hands-on with the PS4 controller at various industry events, and it's a quality device. The ridges along the analog sticks make it very easy to maintain a firm grip, and the device rests comfortably in a player's hands. Its only unusual feature is its central touchpad.
The touchpad in the center of the DualShock 4 controller allows players to control on-screen action. This is good news for indie developers who are used to making mobile games with touch screens in mind. The touchpad, however, does not seem like a "basic" feature, meaning that it may not be accessible on the PC when the PS4 first launches. No traditional PC controllers on the market right now have touchpads.
PC gamers in the market for a good controller may also want to hold off until Valve releases more information about its highly anticipated Steam controller in conjunction with its upcoming SteamOS operating system. The Steam controller, with its two haptic pads instead of analog sticks, is definitely an oddity. Being able to control action, strategy and simulation games with equal acuity sounds like it might be worth waiting for, though.
Once the PS4 launches in November, gamers will have a better idea of how well its controller works with Windows, and whether Sony has any plans to pursue the matter further. Until then, there are plenty of PC controllers from which to choose — not to mention the good old mouse-and-keyboard combination.
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Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.