Is Sony Working on a Universal Controller that Works on XBox 360 and Wii?

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Imagine: one controller to rule them all, one controller to bind them: one universal controller that works on Sony’s PS3, Microsoft’s XBox 360, and the Nintendo Wii. Now, fancy that controller being manufactured by … Sony, of all companies.

This latest rumor comes courtesy of GoRumors, which has dug up a patent for a “Universal Game Console Controller” filed by Sony in June of 2008. Thing is, the controller would be LCD-based: according to the filing, it would be “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.” Rather than having raised, pushable buttons, the configurations of which could be switched depending on the console, this would just be an LCD touchscreen of the type you might see at an ATM window. (Though hopefully a lot more sensitive.)

Patents can be a notoriously bad source of advance intel: companies file many thousands of them each year, most of which aren’t approved, they often don’t lead to direct applications, and many are so-called “defensive patents,” filed not because the company is gearing up to produce whatever is being patented, but to slow down competitors with similar ideas.

Still, even if we don’t love the touchscreen idea for serious gaming, a move towards universal controllers pushed by one of the big three console manufacturers is at least worth fantasizing about for a little bit: it would make multi-console gaming cheaper, for one thing, but more importantly, it could herald a less pointlessly proprietary epoch among the big three.

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