Will You Pay $30 for Two More DualShock 4 Buttons?
Sony hopes you will
Since the original launch Microsoft’s Xbox Elite Controller, Sony PlayStation fans have been waiting for an official response. Astro launched the C40(complete with questionable kiosk),and Scuf launched the Vantage, but Sony stood their ground. They released several new colors of the original DualShock 4 but never truly updated the design.
Now, Sony has announced a weird-looking optional peripheral that adds two buttons to the back of the controller alongside an OLED screen. It’ll run you $30 and it comes out January 23rd in the US, and shortly after that worldwide. It’s called “The DualShock 4 Back Button Attachment,” a name that only a Sony marketing meeting could love.
I’m a big fan of rear controller paddles, or “back buttons” as Sony has now christened them.
When designed correctly, rear game controller buttons expand the usability of console video games. You can typically duplicate any button function to the paddles that you want, giving yourself quicker access to common commands, and the ability to push a face button without lifting your thumbs off the analog sticks.
Microsoft was the only current console platform holder with an “official” rear button solution on the market, now that the Steam controller has died. But the Xbox paddles are pinned to the back of the Elite Controller, which in its Series 2 model has seen a price increase to a whopping $179.
Cheaper third party options are out there if you just want to get your paddle on, at least for the Xbox, PC, and Switch. I’m a personal fan of PDP’s controllers. I have one of their $30 “Deluxe” headphone-enabled wired controllers for the Nintendo Switch, and its back paddles are great and easy to quickly remap.
The Back Button Attachment’s design isn’t fully in sync with the otherwise svelte DualShock 4. The buttons are built into two long plastic rails and the drooping center module seems relatively enormous. It adds a protrusion to the profile of the controller. While I think it’s nice that the unit can permanently remember custom profiles, I’m also worried that the screen will further hamper the already-iffy battery life of Sony’s controller.
Hopefully the ergonomics of the DualShock won’t be dramatically effected by the increased weight and the button position. I think that the DualShock 4 is the most comfy of the current controllers to hold and use over long sessions.
The $30 price tag is the same as the cost of PDP’s third party Switch controllers I mentioned above, and half the cost of a standard retail game. While the OLED panel probably isn’t the cheapest thing in the world, the profit margin here is still high. The screen is said to provide “real time information” on button mapping, for those of you who like to play while looking at the back of your controller.
The round protruding screen holds functions that other platforms handle in software on the console, or with a simple “remap” button. It seems like the screen was included to justify the price tag and give it some Sony-style flair.
I’d happily pay $30 for this thing if it had a small integrated battery to help expand the play time of the DualShock. The underwhelming battery in the controller is something I’ve ranted about for years.
I also would have loved to see this functionality incorporated into a new and slightly more expensive DualShock 4, but I get why Sony wouldn’t want to do that sort of retooling right now. They’ve got a new console coming out in about a year, and I’m sure that most of their production line is focused on its brand new controller.
This is a product for the faithful, then. A $30 “apology” for not releasing a “real” Elite controller contender in the hopes that enough people will buy it. It’ll probably work? Even with the expensive screen, it’s close enough to the impulse-purchase level to make you forget you’re spending $30 for two buttons.
Hopefully, it’s also a sign that rear buttons will be standard on the PS5, or available in some way, now that Sony has finally acknowledged the feature.