Back in 2013, I had some very unkind things to say about the DualShock 3's design. Those points still stand—this is a bad controller for playing video games—but in the years since I’ve grown to appreciate one thing about the DS3: it can take one hell of a beating.
I bought my first PlayStation 3 in early 2007, and for a while got by with just the one controller. But as the sports games started piling up, I eventually needed a second, and feeling fancy at the time I decided to import a “ceramic white” pad from Japan sometime in 2008.
The DS3 that the console came with is long gone. I don’t even know what happened to it. But the white one has lived. And lived. And lived, like no controller I have ever owned (or maybe ever will).
From 2008-2013, it served as my primary PS3 controller, which given my line of work means it got some pretty serious use, from long Yakuza sessions to Gran Turismo marathons to, most taxing of all, FIFA nights with my football team, where it would be bounced around tables and floors all night.
When I picked up a PS4 in late 2013, I didn’t get rid of my PlayStation 3. I just...retired it, moving it out into the family room where it could serve as a media centre for my kids, piping stuff like Netflix and Plex into their TV.
My family room is like the Thunderdome for consumer electronics. With a tiled floor and two children’s filthy, uncoordinated hands ceaselessly clawing at it, every day is a battle for survival for my poor little DualShock 3, as it has to endure repeated falls, throws and tugs that would have smashed lesser controllers.
What a Ceramic White DualShock 3 looked like in 2008
Yet the DualShock 3 endures. It has scars—you can see a nice chip in the top-left of the pad in the image at the top of this post—and keeping it clean requires constant loving attention, but it still works. When you move the thumbsticks and press buttons it does what it was asked, whether in a menu or a game, as responsive as it did the day I bought it.
Even more impressive is the fact that its battery is OK. I remember a big deal was made around the PS3's release about the controller’s inbuilt battery (the Xbox 360 and Wii let you swap batteries out), and how it would eventually render pads useless once the battery gave up the ghost, but with daily use over nine years my DualShock 3's power reserves are still sizeable enough to mean I only need to recharge it every few days. They’re probably not as healthy as they once were, given the passage of time and the number of times the battery has been recharged, but it’s still completely fine.
I know it’s not officially the most durable controller of all time, and hey, you might have had different experiences with yours crapping out. But as someone who has worked in childcare, then in games retail, and now in a job where I play games every day, I’ve never personally encountered one stand up to so much shit and keep taking it than my Ceramic White DualShock 3.
So thanks for sticking around, little guy. You still suck, are uncomfortable to use and have bad squishy buttons, but I’ll appreciate your craftsmanship long after you’re gone. If, that is, you ever actually go....