One gamepad to rule them all?

Sony files a patent application for a 'universal controller' which could work with several different game consoles

You've heard of universal remotes, but what about universal game controllers? Universal remotes let you control different brands of consumer electronics, primarily television sets, using a single button-smothered controller. They've been around since the mid-1980s, a late reaction to the VCR invasion, with an eye toward the multi-rack-module "entertainment center" we take for granted today.

But universal remotes work primarily as a way to consolidate TV sets, satellite receivers, and video recording or playback devices, not video game systems. And you can already buy third-party game controllers that offer cross-platform functionality. Microsoft's USB-based Xbox 360 gamepad, for instance, which transits comfortably between an Xbox 360 and USB-capable Windows PC.

Now imagine a generic device that worked "universally" with your PlayStation, Xbox, PC, or even a Wii. Would you buy such a gizmo?

Sony thinks you might, or at least that's my take-away from a US patent and trademark app the company filed recently for a very specific sort of controller designed to work with just about any console, from recent models to legacy ones.

One gamepad to rule them all

Could retro-gamepad clutter be a thing of the past?

According to United States Patent Application 20100041480, Sony's dreamt up "a universal game console controller that has an LCD presenting, depending on what type of game console a user has input, a controller key layout for a first type of game console or a controller key layout for a second type of game console."

The device would also include an integrated speaker, vibration feedback, onboard storage, various gamepad-like buttons, an option to ape an alphanumeric keypad, and another to emulate older game consoles.

Older consoles? Really older consoles. Specific models named include the Amiga CD-32, Atari Jaguar, and Turbographics, as well as general controllers made by Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sega. The patent even singles out the Gravis Gamepad, a PC-based controller that mimicked the Super Nintendo Entertainment System's controller. Make of that what you will.

"Just like remote controls, game consoles, and thus game controllers, are becoming widespread," reads the 'background' section of the patent filing. "It is not surprising to find more than one game consoles in a household, especially when competing game console manufacturers attempt to attract unconventional consumer groups in the gaming industry."

"As understood herein," concludes Sony, "it would be useful to have a universal controller that would be able to work with a variety of game consoles.

Useful? Or with all the control nuances part and parcel of interactive gaming, prohibitively generic?

Follow GamePro Australia on Twitter: @GameProAu

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matt Peckham

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?