Disability Gaming

Dualshock 4 Back Button Attachment Review: Not Really Accessible For Disabled Gamers

The Dualshock 4 Back Button Attachment adds a little more functionality to the PS4 controller and the wider gaming experience, but it doesn’t do much for accessibility.

Before we begin this review – two quick disclaimers.

I am a disabled gamer and I have a muscle-wasting condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. As you’ll see in the video embedded to this review, to say my hands are quirky would be an understatement.

With this in mind, I reached out to my friends at Sony to see if I could review the Dualshock 4 Back Button Attachment because I wanted to see if it will allow physically disabled gamers, like me, to better access gaming. They kindly agreed and shipped the product to my front door.

With that out of the way, let’s get into the review.

Almost from the get-go, you realize that the back button was not designed with disabled gamers in mind. The attachment is fiddly and tight when trying to connect and it took me several attempts to even get the connectors lined up correctly.

To connect, you need to hold down the latch (either with your thumb or another finger) in order to connect the attachment via the microphone in and extension ports. Once lined up, a firm push is required, using both hands, before the attachment clicks into place.

Whilst it is hard to judge exactly, as different people have varying levels of function in their hands and fingers, I would guess that many disabled gamers won’t have much independence when it comes to actually getting the back button connected and working.

Once connected, for me anyway, I noticed the controller was that much heavier in the hand. Not a lot heavier, but certainly noticeable.

But what of the gaming experience? I played the likes of Fortnite, Apex Legends, Project Cars 2, FIFA 19, and Crash Team Racing all at varying lengths during my time with the back-button attachment.

The tact-tile buttons are an easy press but don’t have much in terms of height, making it difficult for those who may not have good extension in either the ring or middle finger. What’s good about the attachment is that you can program it to map whichever button on the existing Dualshock 4 controller that you’d like, including the often-difficult press of the analogue sticks for parts of gameplay like sprinting or melee.

Using the back button for shooting and aiming in games like Fortnite or Destiny 2 will feel foreign at first but quickly became quite natural, however, the issue again is that this is dependent on the variable functionality in the hands of disabled gamers.

For shooters especially, many disabled gamers are already struggling to keep up the pace of gameplay.  

From a purely accessible standpoint, the overarching impression of this nifty addition to the PS4 controller is that it could be worth it for disabled gamers, but the risk of investment is high, because they’re not going to be able to discover that it can even come close to working for them until they’ve paid $70 ($30USD).

Yes, the back-button attachment may be just what they need to have a more level playing field using the controller, but for others, it could also be just the beginning of what they need and the entry to gaming may still be high and this attachment doesn’t address much of the issue.

Sony is already behind Microsoft in terms of developing hardware that is accessible to disabled gamers. They had an opportunity to catch up if a little more thought had been put into what is still a large portion of an ever-growing gaming market.

For me, the setup of it was all but too hard to do independently and I know it will be for many of my disabled gamer friends. That will immediately turn many off because what disabled gamers want more than anything is independence in their gaming.

Sadly, the entry point (in terms of connection) will already put up too barriers for many disabled gamers.

MY RATING: 5/10

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