Why the Hell Doesn’t the PS5’s Media Remote Have the DualSense’s D-Pad?

Why the Hell Doesn’t the PS5’s Media Remote Have the DualSense’s D-Pad?
Image: Sony

Recently I was going through what should have been a rather straightforward announcement from Sony detailing which streaming services the PS5 will support at launch. And while things ended up being a bit messier than need be, the image of the PS5’s Media Remote at the top of the press release has been stuck in my brain. It’s like an earworm I just can’t shake free.

At first glance, there’s not much to say about the remote. It’s got a slick, two-toned design that matches the rest of the PS5, and it’s way less clunky than the PS4’s Media Remote. So for a press release about the PS5’s streaming capabilities, that media remote is a sensible choice for a header image.

The picture isn’t even that new, as it was released back in June following the official reveal of the PS5’s design. But after looking at it some more, I realised what was really bugging me: Instead of using the D-pad used on the new DualSense controller, the PS5’s Media Remote has these four skinny sticks with a circle in the middle. Sony, what gives?

In a time when tech giants are so focused on things like synergy and corporate branding, it seems like such a no-brainer to feature the DualSense’s D-pad on the PS5’s Media Remote. Look, I’m sure the cross-and-circle setup that’s on there now works perfectly fine, but I’m willing to bet the DualSense’s D-pad would feel a whole lot better and help tie in the media remote more with the rest of the PS5 ecosystem. Just think about it: In the entire history of video game consoles, Sony’s pointy, disjointed D-pad is practically the only thing that even comes close to rivaling the classic, cross-shaped D-pad when it comes to accuracy and feel.

At least the PS5's new media remote is way more streamlined the original PS4 remote.  (Image: Sony) At least the PS5’s new media remote is way more streamlined the original PS4 remote. (Image: Sony)

I don’t mean to drag Sony too much, because if you look back through the years at all the various PlayStation media remotes (dating back to the original PSX), none of them have ever included Sony’s signature D-pad. Sure, a number of them included PlayStation’s classic circle, triangle, square, and X buttons, but never the D-pad.

Sadly, while I may never know the answer to why this is, I strongly suspect PS5 Media Remote’s lack of a DualSense D-pad comes down to economics: It’s simply cheaper and more efficient to include generic control buttons on the PS5’s remote than it is to use the DualSense’s D-pad, which is almost certainly a higher-quality and therefore more expensive part. And that’s kind of a shame, because the original DualShock is one of the most iconic controllers in video game history, and it would be nice to see pieces of its legacy make it onto a wider range of PlayStation accessories.

As for the PS5’s support of streaming services, well, things were initially confusing. Sony listed Apple TV, Disney+, Netflix, Spotify, Twitch, and YouTube support for the PS5, then mentioned that support for Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Peacock, and MyCanal would be coming soon. Except according to Ars Technica who spoke to both Hulu and Crunchyroll, “soon” actually meant that both Hulu and Crunchyroll would be available at launch, which is nice. As for Amazon Prime Video and other services that are currently available on the PS4, it looks it’s going to be little longer until they get ported over to the PS5.

But still, now that I’ve imagined a world in which the PS5’s media remote has a real D-pad, I’m always going to wish Sony had made that dream a reality. D-pads are good, and the world could always use more devices with high-quality controls.