Sony is changing Japanese controller commands for PS5 and players are furious

So much for muscle memory. This did have to happen at some point — but why did it take so long?

Anyone who’s owned a PlayStation in the last few decades knows the controller’s X button is used to confirm menu options. Right? Well, not in Japan — the console line has always utilized the circle button as its main action button.

But now Sony is switching things up in Japan. Both Famitsu and AV Watch have reported that the Playstation 5’s controller will switch the circle and X buttons in Japan, leaving the long-standing tradition behind. And this one isn’t just a rumor. A Sony salesperson confirmed that yes, this is actually happening.

Players are understandably disappointed in the decision. Kotaku reports that Japanese players have taken to a variety of forums and social media platforms to express their dismay at the change. For long-time Japanese Playstation fans, this will really trip up their gameplay experience when the PS5 comes out. But we do see where Sony is coming from here.

Players are pissed! — On popular sites like My Game News Flash and Hachima, gamers aren’t holding anything back in sharing their opinions.

Here’s a quick sampling of their comments (via Kotaku):

  • “What a pain in the ass.”
  • “Yep, trash.”
  • “I’m not buying a PlayStation anymore.”
  • “Sony traitors.”
  • “I’m not going to get used to this.”

Why was this ever a thing? — No one’s entirely sure, because Sony has never been outspoken about it. The most popular theories cite the circle as meaning “okay” or “correct” in Japan, while the X carries connotations of “no” or “not available.” Even with these cultural meanings in mind, it doesn’t really make sense that Sony ever made a separate control scheme for one country.

Last year, Sony finally added an option to allow Japanese PS4 players to switch the X button to confirm, giving users the option to use either the Japanese or global controller layouts. But Sony has already confirmed that this setting will not be available on the PS5. It’s X to confirm or nothing at all.

Okay, it had to happen sometime — Players have the right to be upset about this switch-up. Dedicated PlayStation fans will need to literally re-train the muscles in their hands to learn the new controls. That’s sure to be frustrating for many.

Then again: it’s really about time for this to happen. Sony should’ve never forced developers and players to cope with two opposing controller layouts. As a quick experiment in the PlayStation’s first release? Maybe so. But as a long-standing tradition passed down through four generations (each with multiple iterations) of consoles? That’s just unfortunate.

This is a Band-Aid that needed to be ripped off at some point. In a few years’ time, PS5 players in Japan will have grown used to the new controls, and the switch-up will be just another thorny memory.