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Sony's PlayStation 3 SIXAXIS controller
Rumble could be headed to the PS3

It looks as though the "rumble" might be coming back to Sony's PlayStation if today's announcement is any indication. Sony and Immersion have agreed to end their patent litigation and enter a new business agreement which would allow the use of Immersion technology in PlayStation products.

The feud between the two companies dates back to 2005 when Sony was hit with a $91 million USD lawsuit regarding its use of force feedback technology in PlayStation game consoles. As a result, Sony decided to drop "rumble" support from its PS3 and instead decided to focus on its SIXAXIS motion-sensing controller.

Sony originally downplayed the lack of rumble and tried to make the best of the new motion-sensing capabilities of the SIXAXIS back in October. When asked if he had any regrets over the loss of rumble, Sony's Phil Harrison stated "Not at all. I think that the next generation interfaces that can be created built on SIXAXIS motion sensitivity give tremendous gameplay benefits that far outweigh a reactive vibration function."

“I think the decision that we’ve made to build in the SIXAXIS functionality, and Bluetooth wireless, and great battery life, and all the other functionality that comes with it, far outweighs the chatter that we’re getting on vibration. And, it's incredibly light! Just pick it up," he continued.

Not surprisingly, many fans have been disappointed with the lack of rumble on the PS3. Developers have expressed similar disappointment with the lack of rumble and its SIXAXIS replacement.

"Tilt control's not difficult to do... Fundamentally, though, the whole tilt control thing is rubbish. It's no compensation for [the lack of] rumble," said Guy Wilday of Sega Racing Studio.

"I think that its value depends upon the game. It didn't make sense on Oblivion but I'm sure there are some games it does make sense on. To be honest I would rather have the rumble instead of the SIXAXIS motion stuff," said Pete Hines of Bethesda Software.

This latest announcement means that rumble could be coming to the PS3 in the future, but no timetable was given. "Our new business agreement with Sony Computer Entertainment is specifically intended to enable advanced vibration capability for the benefit of the PlayStation gaming community," said Immersion CEO Victor Vegas. "We are happy to provide our technology in this regard and hope to make technical proposals very soon with respect to use of our technology in the PlayStation products."

"We look forward to exploring with Immersion exciting new ways to bring the largest and best range of gameplay experiences to our customers," said Kazuo Hirai, Sony President and Group Chief Operating Officer. "We are very excited about our new partnership with Immersion and the potential for new and innovative products incorporating their technologies."

So while PS3 is destined for the European market (and likely future revisions of the PS3 headed to North America) will lack a dedicated Emotion Engine and Graphics Synthesizer chip, one can always look forward to the possible return of rumble.





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