How might developers use the DualShock 4’s touchpad?


The touchpad in the center of the DualShock 4 presents a completely new way for PlayStation gamers to interact with their games. How will developers use this new input? It’s definitely not a new concept, but here are some of the ways we think devs might use it for PlayStation 4.

Yes, the DualShock 4 is not a complete overhaul of a PlayStation controller, but should bring just enough “new” to get control freaks excited. The touchpad quite literally comes right from the back of the PlayStation Vita and opens up more possibilities than many can fathom so early in PS4’s existence.

Let’s investigate which new control methods are good and which ones we wish to do without.

Swipe Left-to-Right

Waggle stick to break free will now become swipe left-and-right frantically to break free. This is a completely viable way to remap this classic grapple move. Think WWE or any zombie game where the enemy has your character and is just about to bite when that unassuming image of the left analog stick jostling left to right violently suddenly overlaps your view of the carnage. Now your game can give you the finger instead.


If you’ve ever played Uncharted: Golden Abyss on Vita, then you’d know this is one of the coolest ways to rub that touchpad. Drake finds something he wants to make a carbon rubbing of and on screen pops the paper. Using your finger, just rub across the entire touchpad to reveal an image. If Ludia ever makes a Lottery game, this could be used with scratcher tickets.


As in rhythm, not to be confused with simply tapping any button on the controller. Tapping on the touchpad can lead right to a swipe pattern or long press. We can’t imagine forcing players to tap the touchpad for basic input when there are four face buttons at least an inch closer to the right thumb. Although, if any one developer was to prove us wrong it would be Quantic Dreams.


Camera controls are simplest to manage with the right stick, but will eventually be made cumbersome with the touchpad and some backward-thinking developer. This goes to show that not all new ways to do things are the best ways.

psvita_rear_touch_padCircle swipes

Lots of games have used the circular input to turn gears or wheels. This motion on the analog is the main reason that there is a gnarly ring carved into the shaft of your DualShock 3’s analog sticks. Go ahead, check. Some games used this to turn gears, or allow Kratos and Ratchet to push or pull levers. If your favorite character is Zangief, maybe you favored the left stick for performing the famous 360 pile driver. The touchpad will ideally be far less prone to wear and tear.


Any sword fighting game would not pass up the call of the DualShock 4’s touchpad when thinking about creative ways to hack up enemies. This sort of frantic input is ideal for any touch device. The best example of this is Halfbrick’s Fruit Ninja.

Have you thought up any creative ways that developers could utilize the touchpad on the DualShock 4? Put it in the comments as a sort of time capsule and when PS4 games begin taking off we can look back and see who came up with the idea first.

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  • how about as a mouse for web browsing or strategy games

    • Justin

      Yes please! Seems console makers go out of their way to avoid being a dedicated one size fits all gaming PC. I would personally buy less PC games if consoles had mouse support.

    • steve

      but how uncomfortably would that be?

      • KosmoCrisis

        Just imagine the touchpad is a reflection of the screen; corners of touchpad are inline with corners of your tv. Using the analog stick to move the cursor from one side to the other requires not only tilting the stick but waiting for the cursor to get over there (depending on what your mouse speed is set to in settings of course.)

        Using the smaller touchpad now means a quick slide on the touchpad, or maybe even just touching the zone you want to interact with, is much faster and more current with today’s devices.

  • CChaplin

    Does the touchpad support multitouch? I hadn’t thought of the pinch-to-zoom idea before but I definitely like it.

    • Neilandio

      It does

    • ps4ultimania

      i think i heard it does but yeah

  • Oh Boy, I can see all the porno games in Japan fluding over to the PS4 just because of this…

    • ps4ultimania

      nasty thought 😀

  • KosmoCrisis

    There was a good suggestion in the comments on N4G saying the touchpad could be used for drawing shapes or patterns to cast spells. What about sports games? Any thoughts on how the touchpad could change the way we interact in Madden?

    • Maybe tap the touch pad to pass the ball to someone in a football game maybe?

  • Nothing5555

    Screw the touch pad, where are my full body suit controls.

    • ps4ultimania


  • ps4ultimania

    can some one answer what are the dots for ? does it bring higher acuracy or is it just add more to it?

  • George Madden

    This post has made me more excited about the PS4!

  • -“throwing” also would be possible, remember half life 2?, using magic in skyrim might be a lot more fun!
    -Scrolling maps (RPG’s, strategy games), text.
    -Rotating (assuming it’s multitouch, and support gestures) would be beneficial for manipulating keys or puzzles, even 3D models (wanna take a look at GT6 cars?), pictures in game.
    -You already mentioned zooming, but how about scaling? It’s similar but it’s not the same.
    -Head Shots
    -Increased accessibility for level editors
    -Touching a girl… God of war? Supreme!
    -Catching, it features higher resolution input and it’s faster for this.
    -Picking, Strategy games normally use models represented at very small scales, it should be very useful.
    – Highlighting text
    – Switching weapons
    -Click to reload
    -Turning around or faster (trackpad is faster)
    – Better control for objects such as balls
    – Editing videos, music, photos.
    – Easier to choose direction when you want to jump off a boat (GTV), or manipulating parachute, landing. It’s much faster and precise. IMO
    – Soccer Shooting
    – Playing PS Vita games