In announcing their SensorFX force feedback system for the PS3 yesterday, accessory-maker SplitFish somewhat coyly mentioned that the technology "can be sold as an add-on to existing controllers or as an imbedded [sic] feature that is part of a standard controller." The second part of that sentence led some to believe that an official deal with Sony to add rumble support to the PS3's SixAxis controller might be afoot.
Today, Sony spokesman Dave Karakker put any such rumors to rest, telling GameDaily that "no one at SCEA has been in touch with this company," and, furthermore, "at this time, we have no plans to incorporate any kind of force feedback into our SIXAXIS controller."
Without any official support from Sony, any PS3 rumble solution from a third party would likely have a hard time garnering support from game developers and publishers. As Immersion CEO Vic Vegas pointed out in an earlier interview with GameDaily "[Sony] can filter out vibration commands; essentially if they don't want vibration they can shut it down and it appears that's what they're doing."
But the question then remains: why don't they want it. Despite Sony's original protests that rumble technology "interferes with information detected by the sensor," the Wii shows that force feedback and motion sensing are possible in the same controller. Legal threats from Immersion might cause Sony to be wary, but Immersion themselves have offered to work with Sony on a legally acceptable solution. Cost might be an issue, but with Sony already losing hundreds on each unit of hardware, a few more bucks of loss in each controller hardly seems like a deal-breaker.
At this point, the only thing we can figure that's stopping Sony from adding rumble support to the SixAxis is some sort of foolish pride. Yes, adding rumble support mere months after the system's launch would essentially be admitting a large mistake in the original controller design. But a self-assured company should be able to absorb this temporary, minor embarrassment for the sake of the long term interests of the system. Sony, apparently, is not that kind of company.