A lot has been made of the tech going on inside the PS5 DualSense controller. Along with the considerably faster SSD, it appears that the controller might be one of the few hardware advantages Sony will enjoy over the Xbox Series X in this console generation.
Unfortunately for Sony, advanced haptics is less easily quantified than teraflops or frames per second. In a recent financial earnings call Ramzi Haidamus, the CEO of Immersion, the company responsible for the haptics in the PS5 DualSense, weighed in on the matter, saying of the controller that it "is a brand-new experience, and that is singularly differentiated by haptics" (via TechRadar).
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Haidamus is hardly an impartial bystander here, but it is an interesting insight into the thought process behind the haptics inside the PS5 DualSense controller and gives us a slightly better understanding than someone trying to describe to us the feeling of a controller giving the feeling of ice or sand beneath you.
Part of the message from Haidamus was simply that the overall video and audio experience with the consoles "is pretty much maximized" meaning that while it continues to push forward, it isn't creating a significant shift in the gaming experience. For that, the PS5 turns to haptics as "the third experience to get you more immersed in that game."
There's certainly some truth to this statement, particularly with the PS4 Pro or Xbox One X, as these consoles already deliver reasonable 4K performance and most users aren't going to experience 8K gaming on the next-gen consoles until the prices of those TVs come down to earth.
How will the PS5 create a more immersive experience?
Where Sony might differ slightly is when it comes to audio. Kenji Kimura, the director of Ghostwire: Tokyo, praised the 3D audio on the PS5 while the PS5 DualSense and its haptics appeared to top his list as the most transformative addition to the PS5 saying, "they allowed for us to feel and experience the various actions and attacks like never before."
In fact, his statement regarding 3D audio was quite similar to that regarding haptics, indicating that "You'll be able to feel like you are there and 'feel' the things that are there with 3D audio."
These more holistic descriptions of the PS5 and its capabilities as compared to the raw power discussion with the Xbox Series X have certainly defined the back and forth from various gaming luminaries regarding the consoles over the last couple of months.
There are two distinct problems for Sony with these features as a major selling point for the PS5. One is simply that they really boil down to "you have to experience it to appreciate it" which I'm sure is a selling point that VR companies will happily tell you isn't ideal. The second is that both of these features require developer buy-in. We've heard from those that really love the advanced haptics and 3D audio and are clearly investing time in delivering an excellent experience on both fronts, but is that going to be the case with all or most developers?
As we edge closer to the eventual launch with rumors of the PS5 price and release date reveal coming soon, the rhetoric on both sides is sure to keep heating up. We look forward to seeing if Sony has any additional tricks up its sleeve to convince gamers who are on the fence about the two consoles that the less powerful option is still the more meaningful upgrade.