Video Game Controller Trend Shows Worrying Knob Propensity

June 17, 2010
By

Before I go any further: yes, I only used the word knob in the title because it sounds good. Actually, this post is about buttons. But buttons aren’t funny. Hence, knob.

We took the list of best-selling video game consoles, and plotted the number of buttons on the controller/joystick from each console against the year it was released. The number of buttons does not include d-pads, clickable analog sticks or switches, but does include all other buttons, shoulder buttons and triggers.

Trend for the number of buttons on video game controllers, by time

As is clearly evident, apart from a spike in the early 1980s when a few of the consoles had hideously ugly telephone-style controllers, the trend from the mid 1980s to date shows a gradual increase in the number of buttons; even the ‘family friendly’ Wii controller has eight of the damn things on it.

When will the madness end?

Source data

Console Year Buttons
Atari 2600 1977 1
Intellivision 1980 14
ColecoVision 1982 14
Atari 5200 1982 17
NES / Famicom 1983 4
Sega Master System 1985 2
Atari 7800 1986 2
TurboGrafx-16 1987 4
Sega Mega Drive / Genesis 1989 4
Neo-Geo 1990 6
SNES / Super Famicom 1991 8
3DO 1993 5
Sega Saturn 1994 9
PlayStation 1994 10
Nintendo 64 1996 8
Sega Dreamcast 1998 7
PlayStation 2 2000 11
Nintendo GameCube 2001 8
Xbox 2001 10
Xbox 360 2005 11
Nintendo Wii 2006 8
Playstation 3 2006 11
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