The Sixaxis Wireless Controller (trademarked SIXAXIS) is the official wireless controller for the Sony PlayStation 3. In Japan, individual Sixaxis controllers were available for purchase simultaneously with the console's launch, without a USB to USB mini cable, at a price of JP¥5000 including tax (about US$40). Individual Sixaxis controllers were also available at launch in the United States for US$49.99, C$59.99 in Canada, and £34.99 in the UK. The word "Sixaxis" is a palindrome.
The 2005 "Boomerang" or "Banana" design for the controller was officially abandoned.
At E³ 2005, Sony showcased their "boomerang" design. Sony stated that the original controller "was very clearly designed as a design concept, and was never intended to be the final controller, despite what everybody said about it."
This was replaced by an upgraded wireless version of the DualShock 2 at E3 2006.
Until Sony announced the name in early October, reviewers had been calling the controller "DualShake."
Feature and design changes
The Sixaxis can operate wirelessly via Bluetooth; up to 7 simultaneous controllers are supported natively by the console.
The controller also features a USB mini-B port, which can be used to connect a USB cable for internal battery charging and wired operation. The controller can be seamlessly swapped from wireless to wired operation, and is charged automatically upon connection. The PS3 comes with a USB to USB mini cable, but spare controllers do not include these cables; only one cable should be needed for all of one's controllers. The controller can operate up to 30 hours on a full charge. The battery is not replaceable; according to a Sony spokesperson, the Sixaxis should operate for "many years before there's any degradation in terms of battery performance," and stated, "When and if this happens, then of course Sony will be providing a service to exchange these items." Later, it was revealed that the Sixaxis came with instructions how to remove the battery and that the battery was fully removable.
A major feature of the controller is the ability to sense both rotational orientation and translational acceleration along all three dimensional axes, providing a full six degrees of freedom. This became a matter of controversy, as the circumstances of the announcement, made less than eight months after Nintendo revealed motion-sensing capabilities in its new game console controller, with only one game shown at E3 to demonstrate the motion-sensing feature, led to speculation that the addition of motion-sensing was a late-stage decision by Sony to follow Nintendo's move. Further fueling the speculation were comments from Incognito Entertainment, the developer behind the motion-sensing PlayStation 3 game, Warhawk, that it only received development controllers with the motion-sensing feature 10 days or so before E3. Developer Brian Upton from SCE Studios Santa Monica later clarified that the Incognito had been secretly working on the motion-sensing technology "for a while", but did not receive a working controller until "the last few weeks before E3".
The Sixaxis features finer analog sensitivity than the DualShock 2, increased to 10-bit precision from the 8-bit precision of the DualShock 2. The controller also features more trigger-like R2 and L2 buttons, with an increased range of depression. In the place of the "Analog" mode button switch of previous dual analog models is a jewel-like "PS button" with the PlayStation logo, which can be used to access the home menu and turn the console on or off. The PS button can be customized to light up if you modify the controller. A row of four numbered LED port indicators are on the top of the controller, to identify and distinguish multiple wireless controllers and can also display the remaining battery charge.
Removal of vibration capability
Sony announced that because of the included motion sensors, the vibration feature of previous PlayStation controllers was removed, reasoning that the vibration would interfere with motion-sensing. Some have disputed Sony's reasoning, citing that the Wii Remote controller has both motion sensing and vibration capability. Haptics developer Immersion Corporation, which had successfully sued Sony for patent infringement, expressed skepticism of Sony's rationale, with company president Victor Viegas stating in an interview, "I don’t believe it’s a very difficult problem to solve, and Immersion has experts that would be happy to solve that problem for them," under the condition that Sony withdraw its appeal of the patent infringement judgment. Immersion later emphasized compatibility with motion-sensing when introducing its next-generation vibration feedback technology. Subsequent statements from Sony were dismissive of the arguments from Immersion, with Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) Senior VP of Marketing Peter Dille stating, "It seems like the folks at Immersion are looking to sort of negotiate through the press and try to make their case to us … we've talked about how there's a potential for that rumble to interfere with the Sixaxis controller."
According to SCEA, as a result of removing force feedback, PlayStation 3 games do not support force-feedback in steering wheel controllers: "All PS3 games are programmed for the Sixaxis which doesn't have force feedback, therefore the force feedback in the wheels won't be recognized." This caused backlashes from some gamers, arguing that rumbling found in the DualShock controller and force feedback are not the same thing.
Return of "rumble"
On March 1, 2007, Sony Computer Entertainment and Immersion Corporation announced that both companies have agreed to end their patent litigation, and have entered a business agreement to "explore the inclusion of Immersion technology in PlayStation format products", which has been reported to indicate the possibility of a future vibration-capable version of the Sixaxis controller. In an interview with GamePro posted March 6, 2007, when asked if Sony would consider a "pro" Sixaxis controller with features such as rumble support, SCEA President Jack Tretton replied that the American branch will have peripherals "that will address the interests of the U.S. consumer," and that it is "certainly open to changing the Sixaxis controller if it addressed North American gamers."
Emmy Award misattribution
Sony originally reported on 2007-01-08 that the Sixaxis controller had been given an Emmy Award for Technology and Engineering by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, but the press release has been removed as of 2007-01-11. An image of the original press release was captured before Sony removed the article. After contacting the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, it was revealed that it was in fact Sony's DualShock controller that won the Emmy and not the Sixaxis controller as indicated.