And again, it’s not like things are all peachy for the PS4 either. John Mabry and Roger Jackson talked to Teague (the design consultancy firm that did the work on the original Xbox) for their thoughts on Sony’s new machine (which is widely considered to be better-looking than the new Xbox):
How it looks is a different story. We couldn’t help but notice a fundamental design disconnect between the controller and the PS4 console; so extreme in some cases that it was almost as though they were designed separately.
Some examples of this disconnect include: the consoles use of square grid-like patterns for venting, while the patterns and textures on the controller use circles. It’s an odd break in the design language, but minor. The choice of color is maybe the biggest question mark for us: The console is black-on-black. But texturing the controller introduces gray into the mix, muddling their visual relationship, for reasons that may forever be unknown.
There are attempts to pull the console and controller together, the matte surface is sliced open at the point of the d-pad and buttons to reveal the gloss piano black of the console, but even this execution prompts questions as to why the joystick islands didn’t follow suit.
At best, these are puzzling design choices. At worst, they’re complete oversights. But truth be told, they’ve got a much bigger issue to contend with: The controller has lost its iconic look. It feels like they tried so hard to improve the feel and play of the controller that they forgot to step back and look at their creation. As Creative Director David Wykes said, “It looks like a piece of clay that’s been worked with too much.”
It’s interesting that while much of the focus has always been about how the console boxes themselves look, the much more important element is how the controllers are designed. These are, after all, the true front-ends of the system.