Gadgets for humans

Sony’s adding back buttons to the PS4 controller via this official attachment

Sony today revealed an official attachment for its Dualshock 4 controller, called the Back Button Attachment. This adds, as the name suggests, a button and a pair of paddles to the back of the controller.

The new addition is attached to the Dualshock via the port on the bottom of the controller. The paddles can be mapped with up to 16 actions from elsewhere on the controller, such as Triangle or RI. The round OLED display tells you what each button is mapped to at that moment. Pushing on the lower part of the screen apparently allows you to remap the buttons as you see fit. It also has a passthrough for the audio jack, which it covers up.

It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing addition. It looks like the Dualshock 4 has grown tumor on its underbelly. I also wonder how this will effect its ergonomics, as the DS4 is already not the most comfortable controller to hold in my humble opinion. Still, this could potentially be a game-changer for those who don’t necessarily have the coordination or ability to press some of the DS4’s buttons. I can tell you my thumbs (which, between constant gaming and constant typing, always feel like they’re about the jump off in protest) will never again have to push into the thumbsticks if I get my hands around this.

That said, it seems a little asinine to put an OLED display on the backside of the controller, so you have to turn it over to see what your back buttons are mapped to. Also, Sony claims you can have up to three “profiles” for your two buttons, customizing them for various situations, but it doesn’t share how you switch between said profiles on the fly.

Given this is being introduced so late in the console’s lifecycle, I can’t help but suspect this is a prelude to the PS5’s controller. So far, all we know about the Dualshock 5 (for lack of a better name) is what we’ve been able to discern from sneak previews — most notably, Peter Rubin’s sit-down with PS5 architect Mark Cerny. Rubin describes the new controller as looking “an awful lot” like the Dualshock 4, but with adaptive haptic feedback. He doesn’t mention anything about back paddles, which is not the sort of thing one would fail to notice. That doesn’t mean the Dualshock 5 won’t have them — just that they may be keeping the final product under wraps for now.

The attachment launches in the US and Canada on January 23, 2020 for around $29.99 USD and $39.99 CAD.

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Published December 17, 2019 — 18:16 UTC

Introducing the DualShock 4 Back Button Attachment on PlayStation Blog