PS4 Back Button: Why?

Sony introduced the PS4 Back Button attachment late in the Playstation 4’s lifecycle (January 2020). When I first heard about this contraption I thought, “Why would I need this?” and “Why now?” Why release this seven years after the PS4 release as we’re waiting on the next generation consoles to be announced.

The PS4 Back Button attachment on its own.

I immediately thought this must be some sort of test project for the PS5. Perhaps Sony wanted to find out how much their audience would value some shiny new Back Buttons. If it went well they could even add them to their new PS5 controller — the DualSense. Now that the Playstation 5 and DualSense have been released I can see that this was not a next-gen research project by Sony.

The Back Button was impossible to find for a few months. I was finally able to secure one in early June. I wasn’t really searching for one. I had just heard that they were in stock again so I ordered one. I wanted to test it out for myself (mainly with Gran Turismo to have two new shifting triggers).

I thought that the Back Button being sold out for about six months would definitely push Sony to implement the tech on the PS5 controller. It didn’t. Perhaps they’re waiting to create a new Back Button attachment for the DualSense controller in order to squeeze more money out of consumers. Maybe they already added too much new tech to the DualSense and weren’t able to also add extra buttons.

When my Back Button attachment arrived and I tested it out on Gran Turismo, it worked beautifully. Once I got used to it, I became a better driver — in the game. (The Back Buttons added zero experience points to my real life driving abilities). My shifting was on point. Of all of the games I’ve used the Back Buttons for, shifting gears in racing games is by far the best use. I have continued to enjoy the attachment in many games. It’s so quick and simple to remap the buttons, but I still mostly stick to the CROSS and SQUARE buttons (the shifting buttons in Gran Turismo). 

My main buttons ✕ (Cross) and ❑ (Square).

In Fortnite and shooters, you’re able to keep your thumbs on the joysticks while jumping, reloading or some other tasks of your choosing. In Ghost of Tsushima, I first tried to use the back buttons for normal and heavy strikes, but later changed it to jumping and dodging. In Fall Guys, I can jump and dive with my Back Buttons. I now have way more control and my dives are practically flawless (except for when it comes to Hoopsie games).

I’m kind of sad that the PS5 DualSense controller doesn’t have any back buttons baked into it. I’m still excited for the haptic feedback and the brand new features on the DualSense. I’m just confused as to why Sony created this attachment for the PS4 and will just allow the idea to die on the last generation. My 3rd party Nintendo Switch Pro controller has two re-mappable back buttons built in.

My PowerA Switch Pro Controller with two back buttons.

This may be a small reason discouraging me from upgrading to the PS5 too soon. I have gotten used to using my Back Button attachment on the PS4. Another reason is that I still have many PS4 games to play through and I can wait (at least until Rachet & Clank: Rift Apart) to start thinking about looking for a PS5. I may keep telling myself that I have all of these reasons for not moving on to a PS5 yet, but the last and most important reason is that they are still impossible to find in the wild.

My Spider-Man PS4 Pro with my Spider-Man PS4 DualShock 4 Controller.

I believe the PS5 will eventually receive some sort of Back Button upgrade whether it’s a new attachment or some new PS5 DualSense Pro controller. Maybe they will also wait seven years to release it though, right before the next next-generation. These things sold too well to not make a comeback. They also came so late in the generation that I still believe they were some sort of research project for the PS5 release.

Whatever happens though I know I’m getting a PS5 in the future, but I will continue to play my PS4 games with the back attachments until I transition into the next generation.

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