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Here’s What I Think (Vibrating Controllers)

* "Here's What I Think" is a semi-regular feature here
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All this talk about Sony and Immersion battling in court
over rumble technology has got me thinking. Here’s what I think: I don't
think anybody really cares about rumbling controllers.
Quick, think back to
the last ten games you've played; I bet you can't remember how many of them made
use of the DualShock's rumble feature. How little do I care if my controller can
shake, rattle, or roll? I honestly can't tell you if the Xbox 360 controller has
a rumble feature, and I play my 360 all the time.

I remember the first time I felt a controller shake. I was
at Wal-Mart playing StarFox 64 and I dipped my ship's wings into the water and
the controller shook. I'll admit it was cool as hell, but nowadays, a vibrating
controller does nothing for me. Sure, there are occasions where having your
controller shake makes things a little more intense or interesting, but these
scenarios are few and far between. The controller simulating a heartbeat,
rumbling when something explodes, vibrating when you fire a gun, and shaking
when you get punched – has all been done before, and has almost no effect on
gameplay. When was the last time you read a review and they brought up the
controller shaking? You may have read a preview somewhere that touted the
feature, but trust me, previews are often written with nothing but a press
release to go by for information, so it was likely because there was nothing
else to talk about.

"If you can see a single blade of
grass in Madden and hear the hot dog vendor in the stands, but you don't feel
the tackle? That's not going to sit well with gamers."
– Immersion President Vic Viegas in a recent 1up Interview

Since this guy is the head of the company famous for
providing rumble technology, you have to take that quote with a grain of salt,
but even with a grain of salt, it's ridiculous. Sports games in particular have
no need for a vibrating controller. Ohhh, my controller will shake when I drop
back to pass – that makes it sooooo difficult to find an open receiver. It's not
like the controllers are shaking hard enough to affect your ability to complete
a pass or make a free throw. Hey, if the controller was shaking so hard that I
had to struggle just to hold onto it, things would be different, but they

Even games that you think would benefit from having a
rumble feature often aren't substantially better for having it. Take Metroid
Prime Pinball for example, it has a whole cartridge add-on just so the DS will
rumble a little bit when your ball/Samus hits a bumper. Give me a break. The
shaking is so weak and pitiful I don't know what it feels like, but it darn sure
doesn't feel like I'm playing a real pinball game.

I'm not saying that if the technology is there that
developers shouldn't use it, but I am saying console manufacturers shouldn't
spend an extra penny adding said technology to their controllers. At $599 the
PlayStation 3 is expensive enough and I don't want some feature with
questionable worth making it even more costly. If you don't think this could
raise the already high cost of the PlayStation 3, ask yourself how Sony's going
to recoup their 91 million dollar settlement to Immersion, and the subsequent
cost of licensing the technology for the PS3.

Just say no to vibrating controllers.

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