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I was reading up on the PS4
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And the new PS4 controller is getting rid of the "analog face buttons" that were on the PS3 controller. What is that referring to? The Start/Select buttons?

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  • The face buttons are buttons visible to your face, when holding the controller normally (during play). In other words, they are the D-Pad, Start, Select, and the symbol buttons. The fact that they are analog is mostly unknown, due to the fact that little to no game actually makes use of the analog functionality of those buttons. MGS 4 is the only PS3 game I'm aware of, that does make use of it.
    – Nolonar
    Apr 11, 2013 at 16:59

1 Answer 1

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In this context, "digital" buttons have two states - on and off. Meanwhile, "analog" buttons have multiple states, usually corresponding to how much pressure is being applied.

Playstation controllers from the PS2 and PS3 generations typically have pressure-sensitive face buttons. This means that the triangle, square, circle, and X buttons are not simply "on" or "off," but capable of detecting certain differences in the amount of force applied and reporting that to the game you're playing.

In a racing game, for instance, the throttle or brake controls might be mapped to one of these buttons, and the amount of pressure you apply determines how fast you speed up or slow down. If I recall correctly, GTA3 on the PS2 used this feature.

The original Xbox controllers also had this feature, but they dropped it in the Xbox 360, which breaks certain Xbox games that are otherwise compatible with the 360's software/hardware.

Most current-gen console controllers have at least a couple of other sets of analog inputs - the triggers, and the sticks. As the trigger has become more popular, the use of analog features of the face buttons has tended to decline.

For instance, in the PS2 era Dualshock 2, the R1/R2/L1/L2 were pressure sensitive buttons. In the PS3's Dualshock 3, the R2/L2 buttons became triggers instead.

This report is stating that these face buttons will likely be digital in the PS4's iteration of the controller.

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  • Ah, they aren't getting rid of the buttons, they are removing the analog functionality of the buttons. Got it. Mar 28, 2013 at 15:42
  • 'In the PS3's Dualshock 3, the R2/L2 buttons became triggers instead" - huh? L2/R2 are still pressure-sensitive on the PS3... Mar 28, 2013 at 22:50
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft, they're still pressure sensitive, they just became full-on analog triggers. If you pick up a DS2 and a DS3, you can pretty quickly tell the difference between a pressure sensitive button and a trigger. The trigger has far more travel distance.
    – agent86
    Mar 29, 2013 at 2:59
  • A good example of a game that used the analog buttons is Metal Gear Solid 2. When aiming in first-person mode, the shoulder buttons could be used to lean left and right. How hard you pressed determined how far you leaned. For assault rifles, a light press was used to aim and a strong press was used to shoot. It was a bit tricky to control, which may be why no one else did that.
    – Adam Haun
    Mar 3, 2017 at 19:47

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