Matte is Marvelous: A Good Design Choice for the PS4, Xbox One and Switch

I don’t have OCD (that’s actually a very serious mental condition), but I do get annoyed by little things when it comes to cleanliness, primarily when it comes to my electronics. Up until a few years ago, I used my tablet with a stylus and only a stylus because I hate seeing fingerprints (I realize the irony, okay?). Even when it comes to my consoles, I like them looking clean and pristine. That’s why I have to really thank Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo for finally choosing to go with a matte finish for their latest systems.

Consoles have always had some interesting designs. As time has gone on, they’ve gradually become to look a little more ‘interesting’ than just simple boxes like they were in the 90s. This really began to change throughout the 2000s as consoles started to turn into multimedia centers instead of just game systems. With that being the case, it seems like the designers wanted to make the systems look more ‘modern’ and attractive to match the aesthetic that’s to be expected in a home media center. What’s one way to make almost anything look fancier? Put it in black and make it as shiny as a pearl.

You can find this ‘glossy’ look on so many things. Cars, certain types of fine decor/furniture, and of course, electronics; TVs, mobile devices, computers, appliances—so many different machines can be found sporting the glossy black look. The Wii had this look for its entire lifecycle, whereas only specific models of the PS3 and 360 featured it. All of these systems looked nice with a glossy finish, but there’s a big problem with it: it gets dirty so very fast.

A glossy item looks really good when it’s fresh out of the packaging (especially when it’s black). You could put it in just about any showroom and it would pretty much just fit right in. But, the problem is that you have to keep it in that showroom to preserve its beauty. When you keep a glossy item tucked under a glass case where absolutely nothing can touch it, everything will be just fine. But, of course, you’re not going to do that with something like a console. So, as a result, it gets constantly hammered with a fresh coat of dust every few days. Then, eventually, those enraging hairline scratches start to form all over the surface. Eventually, that glossy beauty now looks like a hot mess. This is why matte is marvelous.

Matte isn’t as fancy as gloss, but it sure does hold up a lot better. 

Both Sony and Microsoft decided to ‘experiment’ with the matte look at the beginning of this generation. The 2013 models of the PS4 and Xbox One both sported a mostly matte body with glossy accents. Of course, the matte still continues to hold up, but those glossy areas are scratch havens. When these systems were redesigned into the PS4 Slim and Xbox One S, the gloss was removed pretty much entirely. Even the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X sport an all-matte finish. Nintendo has been seemingly obsessed with gloss ever since the Wii and DS days. The 2011 3DS was beautiful with its all-gloss aqua blue look, but again, those darn hairline scratches… Nintendo then took a more subdued approach with the 3DS XL which had a half-and-half design of a more ‘frosted gloss’ and plastic. But, the gloss returned yet again with the New 3DS/XL, although the 2DS family still sports a matte finish. The Wii U was just as glossy as its predecessor, and thus just as scratch-prone. This also applies to its controllers, which especially suffer from the fingerprints that get all over them. Now, we have the Switch which is completely matte minus its touchscreen. Even the Joy-Cons and Dock have been given a nice matte finish.

To me, this is the best look for consoles, especially in the case of the Switch which has been designed to be taken out of the house. Console enthusiasts take a lot of pride in their systems, so it’s only natural that they’d want to keep them looking in mint condition. Even though home systems are supposed to sit under a TV all their life, somehow they still end up getting scuffed one way or another. So, matte is perfect to avoid that from happening. This may seem like no big deal, and it honestly isn’t a big deal, but it drives me nuts to see imperfections on my devices. I’m just weird like that.

The easiest way to fix this is to just throw a skin/decal on a device. Not only does it make your device look cooler and unique, but it keeps it totally protected. Peel the skin off, and the actual material underneath will look just as good as before you put it on. I’ve done this with my laptop, and even my 3DS XL. I’m currently debating whether or not do it with my Switch and maybe even my Wii U. Yes, I’m very particular about these things. Let me be. My main goal with writing this article was to see if there’s anyone out there who can sympathize with this weird pet peeve that I have. Feel free to let me know below if you’re a fellow perfectionist, or if you think I’m just a weirdo that needs to get a life and stop worrying about such trivial matters. It’s okay, I’ll understand…

A.K Rahming
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.