Teague, the studio that helped design the original Xbox, has decided to critique the new PlayStation 4. And its designers don’t exactly hold back the snark.
“Sony designed both a beautiful console and a much improved controller,” the group wrote in a new column for Fast Company’s Co.Design, “but it’s almost as if these two components were designed discretely, and they never combined to create a truly cohesive system.”
The PlayStation 4’s “serious and refined” design harkens back to the sleek lines of the iconic PS2 Slim, they continued, but some details—including the slanted body and the choice to put the slot drive on the left—seemed a little odd to them. They also criticized the quality of the box’s finish: “Even from across the room you can see the unevenness in the glossy surfaces, and blushing in the injection molded textured surfaces.”
But never mind the box: what about the controllers? The Teague team praises the improvements to the joysticks and triggers, and how the hardware feels in the hand, while picking apart the aesthetics. “The controller has lost its iconic look,” they wrote. “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.” In their view, the controller is the true “face” of the PlayStation 4, rather than the console that many people tuck away in their entertainment-center setup.
Nor do the gray controllers blend with the black-on-black console, another visual mismatch that bothered them greatly. “Getting the ergonomics right is only half the battle, the other half is to make this handheld device the icon of the brand,” they wrote. “Ironically Sony had achieved that with their original controller; although not everyone loved it, it still said ‘PlayStation.’”
Sony managed to sell more than 1 million PlayStation 4 consoles in North America during the device’s first day of sales, a sizable shot across the bow of Microsoft, which plans on releasing the rival Xbox One later this month. If the PlayStation 4 proves a success, it could help Sony execute a much-needed financial turnaround. While some users have reported hardware glitches with their PlayStation 4, the problems (at least at this point) don’t appear to be widespread.
Both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 face sizable competition from mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones (which have evolved into robust gaming platforms), as well as a potential challenge from Valve’s Steam gaming platform (which boasts 65 million active user accounts and counting). Unless Sony and Microsoft manage to sell hundreds of millions of units over the next several years, their respective console efforts will probably end up viewed as failures. No pressure.