Those who were not yet born during the PS3 era, or were not into PlayStation at that time, probably have no idea about the completely redesigned PS3 controller Sony was about to release. The new controllers, called the Boomerang controllers, were supposed to kill/replace the DualShock controllers. Thankfully, this never happened as many PlayStation fans thought this new controller was very ugly and looked uncomfortable to hold.
Sony never gave an official reason on why they scrapped this new controller, although it’s believed that it was due to the backlash received by the media and their customers. The “Boomerang” controller was merely a concept controller Sony thought of using and was not even officially given a name. It was used to showcase the PS3 at its 2005 E3 conference. Sony’s employees, however, have given their reasonings on why Sony never moved forward with this design.
What Sony designers had to say
Teiyu Goto, who was Chief Creative Director at that time, told Gamesradar that the Boomerang controller was scrapped by Sony due to the criticism it received when it was first shown to the public. This was later corroborated with Sony director of corporate communications and social media at Sony Computer Entertainment America Patrick Seybold. Seybold explained to IGN that Sony performed focus group tests across the globe and in the end, people preferred the DualShock controller design.
Another reason Goto gave on why the “Boomerang” controller never made it to the market was due to the PS3 backward compatibility support. He explained that it would’ve been uncomfortable to play PS2 games with a newly redesigned controller.
Also PS2 and PS3 provide backwards compatibility; the ergonomics should be the same when you play games from the previous generation but without having to bring out the ‘wired’ controllers. It is for these reasons that we reverted to the shape of the classic controller.
The SixAxis Controller
Due to the unprecedented future of the “Boomerang” controllers, Sony instead officially unveiled the SixAxis controller. This controller was very lightweight and added motion sensors to the PlayStation controller. Those sensors allowed you to swing or shake the controller to perform certain actions in a game. Unlike its predecessor, the PS2 DualShock 2, the SixAxis controller did not have any vibration motor. Also, this was the first console to use Bluetooth for its wireless controller.
The SixAxis DualShock 3
A year and a few months later after the PS3 was officially released in the US, Sony released the SixAxis DualShock 3 Controller in April 2008 which added the missing function of vibration. At the release, very few games had the rumble feature and you had to download a patch in order to activate it.