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How Sony’s PS5 designers turned PlayStation into something you can feel

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Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Every DualSense controller has 40,000 tiny PlayStation symbols

When my colleague Andrew Webster reviewed the PlayStation 5, he explained how Sony’s next-generation of video games is something you can’t see — you have to touch. Part of that is how the amazing DualSense controller’s clever motorized triggers and intensely precise vibrations can recreate the crunching sensation of strutting across a sandy beach or the pitter-patter of rain.

Another part: the 40,000 tiny PlayStation symbols you’ll feel when you pick up the PS5’s new gamepad. As an Easter egg for its fans, the company decided to apply a microtexture to the DualSense controller’s entire lower shell that makes it Sony’s most grippable gamepad yet, because of the thousands upon thousands of tiny squares, triangles, circles and crosses literally at your fingertips.

The same photo, zoomed in. Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Sony hasn’t previously spoken about how it did this, how many there are, or how large the symbols actually get, but we have those answers today — including behind-the-scenes photos and details from Sony’s Yujin Morisawa and Takeshi Igarashi, the chief designers behind the PS5 and the DualSense respectively. (We even borrowed a fancy industrial microscope so you can see how the symbols look up close.)

Perhaps the most striking part, as you’ll see in images above and below: these tiny symbols are stacked on top of each other, jutting out in three dimensions. They’re not a single, evenly-spaced layer at all, like the tiny dots you might remember on Sony’s DualShock 4 from 2013. They look random, almost organic — which might be because the entire design was sketched out by hand.

A study of various microtexture sketches. Image by Sony Interactive Entertainment

And not just one sketch. Morisawa, the Senior Art Director of Sony’s Design Center Product Design Group, explains that a variety of designs were hand-crafted, digitized, mocked up, applied to actual prototype gamepads, and tested over and over again until the teams found the balance they wanted: good-looking, textured enough to be comfortable and non-slip, but not so sandpaper-rough that it’d hurt your hands over a lengthy gaming session.

While designers could easily place the digital version of the texture wherever they wanted in Sony’s CAD programs, Morisawa says that physically comparing and testing different prototypes was key: “While it takes a considerable amount of time to create a prototype, the ‘go/no-go’ judgment of a product is determined the moment you see it and touch it,” he told us by email.

A comparison of different microtexture variations for molding — including the PS4’s stipple texture at lower right. Image by Sony Interactive Entertainment
The layers coming together, digitally, as they’ll appear on the inner lip of the PS5 console. Image by Sony Interactive Entertainment

Figuring out the proper heights of the symbols was a lot of work all by itself, as you can see in some of Sony’s behind-the-scenes photos. In the end, they settled on two layers — one roughly 15 microns tall, and another 30 microns tall, according to measurements we made with a Nikon LV100 microscope.

Actually applying the symbols to the DualSense gamepad was the easy part — because they’re not applied at all. Each and every one of those 40,000 symbols is part of the controller’s shell, created when beads of molten ABS plastic are squeezed into tiny laser-cut crevices during the standard injection-molding process. The design is optimized to keep the symbols intact as they’re popped out of the mold.

The trick is having the right equipment to make that mold to start. To create such precise shapes across an entire three-dimensional curved surface, meant to fit into your palms, lasers came in handy. Specifically, a high-end, multi-axis laser engraving machine that Igarashi says is “hard to come by.” The upshot? Because it’s part of the mold, the texture you’ll feel on the PS5’s controller is the same exact one every other owner will.

Sony’s PlayStation controller has arguably defined decades of gamepads, so it was no surprise when, for instance, Google’s Stadia Controller came with the same kind of stippled texture that Sony introduced with the DualShock 4 in 2013. But this time around, Sony’s microtexture isn’t just for your hands; the barely-there PlayStation symbols are part of the PS5 experience wherever you’d think to look. You’ll find them on both of the PS5 console’s side panels, on the inner lip. They adorn the grips of the PS5’s optional media remote, the DualSense charging station, the PS5 camera, and Sony’s Pulse 3D wireless headset, too.

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They even appear inside at least one game: Astro’s Playroom, the must-play PS5 pack-in, prominently uses the texture on a number of floors and walls. It makes sense. Not only is Astro a celebration of the company’s history in gaming, it’s chock-full of PlayStation easter eggs including a few that poke good-natured fun at Sony itself.

In the PS3 era, Sony often felt arrogant, a little too sure fans would lap up whatever it had to offer — $599 consoles featuring giant enemy crabs, proprietary discs and memory sticks for its ambitious portables, a Smash Bros. competitor without enough beloved video game franchises to back it up — but PlayStation has not only earned loads of goodwill since then, it’s become more self-aware. If the company can stay that way throughout the PS5’s lifecycle (and, you know, let people actually buy one), I have little doubt it’ll be a winner.

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GAMES

The Xbox September Update Rolls Out Today

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Summary

  • Customizable Xbox button color on the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
  • Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 – Core in white is available today!
  • Easy access to all your games and apps with a full library revamp on Xbox consoles
  • New storage and default install options on Xbox consoles

Team Xbox is excited to continue bringing new ways to make Xbox better, with you at the center, as we refine the experience and deliver brand new features based on your feedback. This month’s update offers customizable Xbox button colors on the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2, easy access to all your games and apps with a full library revamp, new storage and default installation options, and more. If you play on Windows 11/10 PCs, you’ll be able to share your epic moments with Xbox Game Bar. Xbox party chat noise suppression is rolling out to Xbox One consoles and Windows 11/10 PCs. Plus, the new Party Now feature lets you quickly set up parties on the Xbox app on Android and iOS.


Customize the Xbox button color on your Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2


Providing fans with choice and opportunities to express themselves is a core part of our mission. That’s why we are excited to announce color customization for the Xbox button on Xbox Elite Series 2 controllers! Choose from a wide array of colors that combine red, blue, and green LEDs to produce over 16 million hues of light.

To configure the Xbox button color settings, open the Xbox Accessories app on your Xbox console or Windows PC while your controller is connected. From there, choose an existing profile or create a new one, then select the Color tab to see the full range of color options for the Xbox button. You can change the brightness, opting for a low-key glow rather than the traditional shine. Use the Custom menu sliders to see the full rainbow of color options. Don’t see the exact color you want? Don’t worry, this menu also offers Hex Code support, allowing for the precise color you’re after. You’ll need the latest version of the Xbox Accessories app and the Xbox September update to customize your Xbox button color. If you don’t see the option to choose your color, try restarting your Xbox console by navigating to Settings > General > Sleep mode and startup > Restart now to get the update.


The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 – Core in white is available today


If you don’t currently own an Elite Series 2 controller and want to take advantage of changing your Xbox button color, consider picking up the new Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 – Core in white. It’s designed to meet the core needs of today’s competitive gamers, putting exceptional performance, customization, and durability where it matters most — in your hands. Experience adjustable-tension thumbsticks, wrap-around rubberized grip, and shorter hair trigger locks. Enjoy extensive customization with exclusive button mapping options in the Xbox Accessories app. Stay in the game with up to 40 hours of rechargeable battery life, which varies with usage and other factors, and refined components that are built to last. Add even more customization to the Elite Series 2 – Core or replace components on other Elite Series 2 models with the Complete Component Pack.

The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 – Core in white and the Complete Component Pack are available today in select Xbox markets worldwide for $129.99 USD MSRP and $59.99 USD MSRP, respectively. Visit Xbox.com or your local retailer, including Microsoft Store, for more information.


Full library revamp on Xbox consoles means easier access to all your games and apps


Now it’s easier and faster to find all your games on your Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One consoles. The My games and apps Full library view has been redesigned to streamline access to all games you have access to install and play. All games now shows all the games you own as well as any games you have access to with your current Xbox subscriptions, including Xbox Game Pass, EA Access, and claimed Games with Gold. You also get easy access to catalogs of your subscriptions, editorial content, and all your apps.

Library Revamp Asset

Select storage locations for your games and apps on Xbox consoles


Starting today, you can select different default installation locations for all your games and apps on your Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One consoles. By providing separate default installation locations for different types of games, you can most effectively use your storage space and manage game installs.

In the settings for storage devices, select Change installation locations if you have external drives or a storage expansion card attached. You can select a specific drive as an installation location, or “Let Xbox decide” where to install the content for the fastest drive with available space.

Storage Locations Asset

Sharing with Xbox Game Bar on Windows PCs


Xbox Game Bar works with most PC games, giving you instant access to widgets for screen capture and sharing, finding new teammates with LFG, and chatting with Xbox friends across Xbox console, mobile, and PC—all without leaving your game.

Xbox Game Bar now allows you to get a shareable link for any capture you want. Share your captures anywhere – SMS, WhatsApp, Twitter, Messenger, and more. If your settings are set to Public, anyone who gets your link can see your shared captures.

While playing a game, press the Windows logo key + G on your keyboard to open Xbox Game Bar. If you have an Xbox controller plugged in to your PC, press the Xbox button.

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You can click Copy link at the bottom of any selected gaming capture in the Xbox Game Bar gallery, which uploads the capture (if not uploaded already) and provides the shareable link once upload is completed.

Xbox Game Bar Asset

Party chat noise suppression, now on Xbox One consoles and Windows 11/10 PCs


Last month we announced party chat noise suppression on Xbox Series X|S consoles. This month, we’re rolling it out to Xbox One consoles and Windows 11/10 PCs. If you use party chat, you may notice fewer unwanted noises and interruptions than before. Noise suppression helps remove noises like gamepad clicks, breathing, and background noise from your parties. 

If you want to keep some types of background noise like music in your parties, you can also turn noise suppression off. On Xbox consoles, just open the guide, scroll to Parties & chats, and select Options. There you can enable or disable noise suppression. And on Windows 11/10 PCs, go to Start a party, open Settings > Party audio, and enable or disable noise suppression from there.

Party Chat Noise Suppression Asset

Set up parties with your friends in a snap in the Xbox app


The new “Start party” button in the Xbox app makes it easy to jump right into the game with your friends. Now there’s no need to create a party from scratch each time you want to get your friends together.

To get started, look for the new Parties option on the Social tab. You’ll see a list of all your recent parties, from which you can restart a party or create a new one. You can also easily select which friends you want to invite.

Parties with Friends Asset

Help shape the future of Xbox


Stay tuned to Xbox Wire for future updates and all the latest and greatest Xbox related news. For support related to Xbox updates, visit the official Xbox Support site.

We love hearing from the community, whether you have a suggestion for a new feature that you’d like to see added or you want to give feedback on existing features that could use some improvement. From game capture and share improvements, to helping games load faster, new ways to connect with your gaming community, and so much more, we’re always listening and looking for ways to improve Xbox experiences for gamers around the world.  If you’d like to help create the future of Xbox and get access to features like Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta), download the Xbox Insider Hub on your Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, or Windows PC today. Let us know what you think – we’re always listening!



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