Many were surprised to hear that the PlayStation 3 controller would not support a rumble feature, as it has become an expected part of the modern gaming experience. Both the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii support the technology, meaning Sony's console will be the only next-gen system without a rumble-enabled controller.
Sony's explanation for the feature's absence is that the vibration interferes with new motion-sensing technology being implemented into the controller. But this claim conflicts with news from developer Immersion, who has just finished work on a new vibration effect that can function alongside motion-sensing features.
Says Immersion: "The new TouchSense technology is compatible with motion control and tilt-sensing to allow players to control certain game actions by moving or tilting a handheld controller. Because the speed at which a user moves the controller is much slower than the frequencies generated by TouchSense technology, the two signals can be differentiated using filtering and other techniques. Immersion also offers engineering services to implement the technology within a particular console system.
"Don't expect Sony to give Immersion a call anytime soon, however, as the two companies have been entangled in a lawsuit in which Sony was found guilty of patent infringement over the use of rumble in its DualShock controller and was ordered to pay Immersion $90.7 million.
That this litigation is the true cause of Sony's decision to withhold a rumble feature from its new controller has been a popular theory among industry insiders, but it's a claim that has never been substantiated. As of this writing the company could not be reached for comment. What we do know is the PS3 controller could, apparently, include vibration if Sony wanted it to.