One of Vita's most senior designers has admitted that Sony at one stage pondered giving the PlayStation Vita a larger screen including touch-screen controls.
However, the platform holder eventually decided that physical controls were a preferable option.
When we first saw a prototype of the beautiful OLED screen we used on PS Vita, we felt it deserved to be bigger than the 4.3 inch screen on PSP,” Sony Corporate Design Centre's Takashi Sogabe told the PlayStation blog.
It's almost as if we settled on five inches in order to really maximise the same impact that we felt when we first saw it. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking bigger is better when it comes to screen size but it isn't.
There was a great deal of discussion and we even talked about using a 5.5 inch screen with all of the buttons included on it, but that had a negative impact on the operability of the device and the idea was abandoned.”
However, once committed to the physical controls route Sony found that designing the tiny analogue sticks was a particular challenge.
The engineers have been working on the PS Vita analog sticks for quite some time and it is a much greater technical challenge to build sticks this small than you might imagine,” he added.
We also built a prototype with flat slide pads, a bit like what you have on your laptop, but it just didn't feel responsive enough for gaming and we learned that you need that physical response of tilting the stick to feel like you have total control.
For me as a designer they have presented a huge challenge, partly because it much easier to design products with entirely flat surfaces. We also discussed the position of the analog sticks at great length: I didn't feel that they were in the perfect position from a design perspective but Worldwide Studios were adamant that they were in the best position for comfortable gameplay, and in the end they won out on that point.”