Why does the Xbox controller have non-symmetrical analog sticks?

  • The image below shows the controllers of the three eighth-generation consoles (Xbox One, PS4, Wii U).

    Eighth-gen controllers

    As you can see, both the PS4 and Wii U controllers have symmetrical analog sticks, which seems like a very natural design choice. The Xbox controller, however, has non-symmetrical analog sticks.

    What is the reasoning behind non-symmetrical analog sticks and are they intended to offer increased usability over their symmetrical counterparts?

    Really this is more an industrial design question than a UX one.

    Interestingly, the original PS controller didn't even have analog sticks! So Sony's design decision to place both sticks on the bottom may be more historic than anything else: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayStation_Controller

  • JohnGB

    JohnGB Correct answer

    8 years ago

    The asymmetrical design of the analog sticks is based on ergonomics and the typical use case. The left stick is at the neutral position for your left thumb, while the buttons on the right are at the neutral position for your right thumb. The vast majority of the time, you will be using the left stick and right buttons, so it makes sense that they are positioned for the most comfortable thumb position.

    If you were to make the sticks symmetrical, you would have one of your thumbs out of a neutral position for the majority of the time, which is likely to increase fatigue and possibly cause cramping.

    I'm not arguing that the xbox controller is necessarily better than the others, just that there is solid reasoning behind the design. Personally I prefer it, but many others disagree.

    For the record, Cyborg sells a reversible xbox controller for those that really hate this, so that you can have a symmetrical version.

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    I'm not complaining about this answer (it's correct), or JohnGB (who writes good answers), but I don't understand why this answer gets up votes, whereas mine (which says the same thing and more) doesn't receive any at all.

    Great points; I'd never thought of it as a matter of comfort before. I wonder if PlayStation users experience cramping after long sessions of analog stick-heavy gaming, but that would be another question altogether. Thanks.

    @JimmyBreck-McKye I had to leave the computer for urgent matters, so I only read John's answer (and upvoted it), and hadn't read (and upvoted) yours until just a few minutes ago. My apologies.

    @JimmyBreck-McKye John's answer has a number of features that make it awesome easy to read: a picture (instant bonus), short sentences, short paragraphs, and key words are emphasized. Also, it is more focussed on answering the question without going into secondary information. So yeah, +1's ensue.

    @KoenLageveen - I couldn't find a natural split for the paragraphs, I don't add images unless they illustrate anything meaningful and I certainly don't like the habit of **randomly** formatting **words** as **bold**. This community already has serious problems with rewarding obvious answers to easy questions - actively rejecting more complete answers because their detail makes them (marginally) harder to read takes us from bad to worse.

    Jimmy. I'd recommend a writing class. Because you need to write in shorter sentences if you want to be understood.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM