PlayStation®5 Design Story

A new world of gameplay
beyond dimensions

Created by Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) under the theme of “Play Has No Limits," PlayStation®5 (PS5™) lets gaming fans around
the world experience a whole new generation of gameplay—defined by lightning-fast loading with an ultra-high speed SSD, and deeper
immersion with support for proprietary haptic feedback, adaptive triggers and 3D Audio. With PS5, gamers will feel as if the world inside
a game has merged with the physical space around them. Read on for a glimpse into the story behind the design development effort
to maximize the experiential value that PS5 offers.

Defining a universe with
five dimensions

Developing a new PlayStation® console is a major project, one that involves a wide range of staff from various departments, including product planning, marketing and engineering. In a PlayStation project, designers are required to give full rein to their creativity and, unfettered by design requirements, come up with flexible ideas for a design that will serve as a goal for the entire development team. In our work for PS5, however, we sought to achieve much more: instead of simply developing the product design, we tried to create a new concept of a universe that inspires gamers worldwide and enhances the sense of immersion, and elevate the PlayStation brand itself. To this end, the entire team at SIE Design Center worked together, and we first set out to develop a concept that clearly conveys the image of the yet undefined PS5 universe, while leaving room for the concept to be further expanded.

In conceptualizing the whole direction of the development effort for PS5, first we went right back to the roots and tried to define what a PlayStation is, what it represents. We then discussed PS5, our next-generation console, in depth. It would feature the latest in gaming technologies, such as haptic feedback, adaptive triggers and 3D Audio that create a powerful sense of immersion to let the player feel as if they are inside the world of the game, and ultra-high speed SSD that achieves near instant load times. As we tried to envision the world that these technologies would create, we came up with a simple narrative for defining the user experience: “PS5 is a portal that acts as a bridge between the world of games and the real world, connecting across time and space, and the player is instantly transported to the world inside the game, which exists as a multidimensional universe.” The concept of “five dimensions” was derived from the generation number “5” of the new PlayStation, giving a special layer of meaning to this number.

We placed a great deal of importance on incorporating this concept into the product design, system UI design and communication design, and ensuring that all these areas embody the concept of the gaming universe that is materialized through PS5. Design Center members in charge of each area made sure there were no barriers separating the design areas, and we engaged in repeated discussions to hammer out the details of the “five dimensions” concept and develop a general image of what it would look like. We aligned on the concept of the whole PS5 universe that we would aim to create, and discussed how to connect the 3D world (i.e., the real world) with the 5D world. To aid our effort, we laid out the PS5 system UI, console, package and other elements on a single concept sheet that visualizes how these elements are positioned in the 3D and 5D worlds, and what roles they play, along with lists of relevant keywords. Armed with this easy-to-understand tool, we all started creating designs that give shape to the concept of the PS5 universe in our own area, based on a common awareness and an understanding of our mutual relationship in this project.

Forged in a universe in
another dimension

The underlying idea that defined our product design effort is that the PS5 console is a portal to a 5D world, and the controller is a key to open that door. First, we set the following theme as our approach to the design of all PS5 hardware components: “Discard the familiar notion of hardware as a solid mass and forge a product that transcends matter.” Using this idea as a springboard, we put together the following core design narrative: “A powerful body of energy that possesses the limitless potential of five dimensions descends to earth from a universe in another dimension, and begins to morph into a concrete shape to interact with humans.” The console, controllers and peripherals are all born in the same universe, and these devices are molded into shapes that are suited to interacting with humans. This narrative served as our inspiration as we sought to create a design that is imbued with a sense of life for the entire hardware.

An invitation to a 5D world

The PS5 console, which serves as a portal to the 5D world, is the core component that conveys the concept. As such, it had to be built first, so that it can tell a story and give a direction to the whole product. The black central component, which represents a body of energy formed by densely packed state-of-the-art technology, is covered with white panels to enable communication with humans—which is our narrative that inspired the design. For the body colors, we chose white and black with a hint of blue to evoke the PlayStation brand color. The white panels are conceived as “structures formed by building up layers of the players’ emotions and energy.” To give form to this idea, the inside of the panels is finished with a texture lined with minute △〇×□ shapes that symbolize the brand. The design of the PS5 console embodies the players’ experience itself, and represents the designers’ wish to “pull those who purchase the product right into the world of games the moment they open the package, and take them on an adventure that goes beyond the limits of play.”

One of the things we wanted to achieve in PS5 was deep, uninterrupted immersion into games. To make this possible, we put a lot of effort into maximizing the console’s performance. PS5 is an extremely powerful piece of hardware, which means it generates a lot of heat. As a countermeasure, we fitted the console with a large cooling fan while optimizing the airflow. The design features clothoid curves to create airflow channels that resemble the spiral shells of snails. All superfluous elements were removed along these channels to make effective use of the curved surfaces and maximize the internal airflow performance. As a result, we were also able to minimize distracting noise coming from the console during gameplay. The two white curved panels depicted with finely calculated wireframes also have sufficient strength to support the black central component that represents the ultimate fruit of technology.

The indicator lights that illuminate when the power is switched on were placed inside the console so that they reflect off the side panels and do not shine straight into the eyes of the player. This meticulous attention to detail not just minimizes distracting elements, but it also creates an effect that makes it appear as if the energy inside the console is emitting light.

Building the concept into every detail

Peripherals like the DualSense™ Wireless Controller, PULSE 3D Wireless Headset, Media Remote, DualSense Charging Station and HD Camera, which expand the possibilities of PS5, were “created in the same universe as the console.” Accordingly, they follow the same design theme as the console, covering a black central component that houses circuit boards and so on with a white surface. They were also designed in pursuit of the optimal shape for human use.

The controller, which is also a key that opens the door to the 5D world, comes with newly added features like haptic feedback and a built-in microphone. The designers made full use of their ingenuity to ensure these additions did not make the controller too large by optimizing the internal design. Thanks to their effort, the PS5 controller retains the same operability as any of its predecessors while achieving an even better grip through design improvements. The △〇×□ symbols on the action buttons on the right side were made colorless and the action buttons transparent. On the other hand, the PS button was made black so that it blends in with its surroundings, making for a pure aesthetic design that feels natural and comfortable. The PULSE 3D Wireless Headset that delivers PS5 fine-tuned 3D Audio experience also makes minimal use of mechanical components, and it gently cuddles the player’s head with its white surface and simple design. All these hardware devices combine to express the concept of the PS5 universe.

The peripherals also feature the same texture design as the console with △〇×□ shapes lining the white surface where the players hold. They were designed to provide the utmost comfort for the users and superior functionality at the same time. In particular, the arrangement, density, size and height of the △〇×□ shapes that create the texture on the controller grip were adjusted over and over again through numerous prototypes to achieve the perfect design that provides both a pleasant feel and a secure grip.

The texture lined with △〇×□ shapes,
specially developed for PS5

Aspiring to be a partner

We approached the design of PS5 by first getting rid of all preconceived notions of what we believed a Sony design should represent, and thoroughly exploring what the new product should achieve as a PlayStation. Through many discussions, we finally arrived at the idea that PS5 should aspire to be more than a simple product: we wanted to make it a partner that uplifts the player. We sought to achieve this through various creative details. For example, we designed a texture lined with minute △〇×□ shapes for the controller grip and the inside of the white console panels where it is hard to see from the outside—a playful detail intended to deliver a little joy of discovery even after the purchase. The LED lighting is another detail where we put in special design considerations. We also made it easy to remove the console panels to facilitate cleaning the inside and access to the extension ports. The versatile console stand accommodates both vertical and horizontal placements. These are only some examples of the considerable attention to detail we put in as we designed this product.

Morisawa (left), senior art director/designer, and Morimoto (right), senior manager/designer Design Center, Sony Interactive Entertainment

Taking gameplay to a new level
for more thorough enjoyment

For the system UI, we pursued a design that would allow the players to thoroughly enjoy the gaming experience inside PS5’s multidimensional universe in which parallel worlds exist simultaneously. Members of the UX/UI development team worked to improve the existing UI that the players are familiar with to achieve an even deeper level of immersion. In PS5, we developed a new Control Center, which is displayed over the gameplay screen when the player presses the PS button during gameplay. This feature allows the player to quickly access frequently used system functions, check the latest game information and the status of friends playing the same game, and refer to strategic hints and other information for enjoying the game from multiple perspectives, all while remaining immersed in the game's world.

For deeper gaming experience, the Control Center comes with an Activities feature that displays information such as progress toward achieving the mission in each stage as well as any missed items. With the help of game developers and publishers, we added features that let players access information about substories and hidden items that tend to be overlooked in the game, so that they can make new discoveries each time they play, and thoroughly enjoy all the details and contrivances conceived by the creators.

Steve Silvas (left), senior product design manager, and Mirweis Sangin (right), UX research director
UX Design, Sony Interactive Entertainment

Drawing players into the game's world

Another thing we focused on in designing the system UI was how to draw players into the new five-dimensional PS5 gaming world in a way that boosts their excitement. To achieve this effect, we decided to display an initial setup screen in which particles of light glimmer, following an animation that feels as if a portal to another dimension is opening, which serves to heighten the player’s sense of anticipation for the new gaming experience that is about to begin. On the other hand, the UI of various features such as the Control Center and Game Help is kept minimal so that it does not get in the way of gameplay. The UI closes quickly when it is no longer needed, and it has a neutral design that does not break the flow of gameplay.

Scott Smiggen (left), principal designer, and Wivat Kruawongwanich (right), senior UX design manager
UX Design, Sony Interactive Entertainment

PS5 not just supports the PlayStation®4 (PS4®) accessibility features such as converting voice to text, reading text aloud and changing text sizes to allow all players—regardless of age and whether physically challenged or not—to enjoy an amazing gaming experience, but it also enhances them even more. To extend the support range to cover the entire system, we defined new design rules so that text sizes can be enlarged to improve readability on any screen, running countless numbers of simulations. We gave our full attention down to the smallest detail in designing a user interface that ensures as many people as possible can enjoy PS5 games.

Hiramatsu (left), senior art director, and Kusanagi (right), senior manager
Design Center, Sony Interactive Entertainment

User interface continues to evolve

The PS5 system continues to evolve even after its launch through updates delivered via the internet. Day after day, members of the UI design team, plus global UX teams in research, writing, and production, continue to work on design improvements thinking, “How can we make gameplay even more enjoyable?” As players enjoy their PS5 games and media experiences, they can look forward to the next big improvements in system UI design.

Ina Huang (left), UX content creation director, and Tauni Oxborrow, UX producer/senior manager
UX Design, Sony Interactive Entertainment

Communicating the next generation
of gaming experience

To communicate PS5's five-dimensional gaming experience to users who reside in the real, three-dimensional world, we must carry out global promotion campaigns that are consistent. This requires making sure all the staff involved in creating marketing assets, promotion movies and so on around the world share an understanding of the concept of a 5D universe. To this end, members of the communication design team created a concept movie that expresses this concept symbolically, based on the concept sheet that visualizes the concept of the PS5 universe, and used it to explain the concept to the global staff involved in creating promotional materials. By communicating only the essence of the PS5 gaming experience, we were able to create an environment in which each staff member can fully exercise their imagination in creating movies and visuals, based on a shared conceptual understanding. This conceptual video then allowed the Global Creative team within Marketing to look at ways to build the visual identity and representation of the PlayStation 5 ecosystem, leading to the PlayStation 5 Announcement event visuals and unveiling of its form factor and peripherals.

Michael Brynteson (left), senior director and executive producer, video production, and Blake Robertson (right), senior director, graphic design
Global Creative, Sony Interactive Entertainment

Protecting and nurturing
the PlayStation brand

Although we could have renewed the PS5 product logo and package in line with the 5D universe concept, we chose not to. What we must prize are the PlayStation fans and players around the world, so we made it our top priority to enable them to intuitively recognize PS5 as the latest PlayStation model. Accordingly, we tried to strike a balance between renewal and continuation of the PlayStation brand legacy that has been built up over the years as we proceeded to develop designs. As for the product logo, we retained the style of PS4 considering that the PS4 and PS5 logos will exist side-by-side in the market and in ads as a format, and also to visually express their backward compatibility since PS4 games can be played on PS5 as well. Every single detail in the logo was carefully considered and adjusted, including the roundness of the corners in the number “5”.

The product package for PS4 showed the entire image of the product against a background in blue—the brand color. For the PS5 package, we chose a white-based background and a bold layout that highlighted the most distinctive design features of the console. In the background, we placed the △○×□ shapes that symbolize the brand, so that the PlayStation brand can be recognized at a glance. The top surface of the package was colored entirely in blue. To help players distinguish the two different models of PS5—one with a disc drive, and a Digital Edition model with no disc drive—we used a white background for one, and a black background for the other. On this occasion, we also redefined the color profile of the blue brand color and prescribed it as PlayStation blue, enabling even more consistent brand communication across the world.

The package design for PS5 game software also carries over the PS4 format, given that PS4 and PS5 game software will be placed next to each other on store shelves. After examining numerous color combinations of the PS5 logo and background, we chose the simple combination of a black logo against a white background to make PS5 titles easily identifiable on store shelves among a plethora of game software.

Feel the evolution of PlayStation in PS5

In the communication design of PS5, we wanted to deliver the same excitement we felt when we first laid our eyes on a prototype of the PS5 console and the actual game screen to players around the world. Ever since the world was introduced to its first model, PlayStation has continued to innovate gaming experience, and this history of challenge is etched into the DNA of PS5 as well. We would like every player to feel the evolution of PlayStation in PS5.

Kobayashi (left), senior manager, and Oketani (right), art director
Design Center, Sony Interactive Entertainment

PS5 creates a new gaming experience that feels as if the world inside a game has merged with the real world.
Sony designers will continue to work across barriers separating different design areas like product, user interface
and communication to create captivating experience that inspires users.