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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Boycott the Hamburger Button on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Those monsters...!

There are various ways I can write about the news surrounding the PlayStation 5 controller reveal. I could try to claim it's ugly with its two-toned colour scheme, but it's nearly a guarantee that Sony will release other colour schemes through its lifetime, or even at launch. I could try to claim it's uncomfortable for whatever reason, but I really can't claim much about how it feels without actually holding one and using it during a game.

What can I write that won't be easily shot down by common sense or a “you need to wait and see” approach? How about a criticism of a key design decision that will be unlikely to change unless there is a large uprising against it?

The PlayStation 5's DualSense controller is continuing the Xbox One's travesty of being a dedicated game controller with a hamburger button.

Xbox Series X Wireless Controller menu button PlayStation 5 DualSense hamburger
Left: Xbox Series X controller, revealed in March 2020.
Right: PlayStation 5 DualSense controller, revealed in April 2020.


While the Xbox Wireless Controller for the Xbox Series X doesn't appear to have an official name for its hamburger button, it was called the Menu button on Xbox One. (Used to be the Start button on Xbox 360, with the word Start written.) PlayStation's DualSense doesn't seem to have a name for it either, though they did name the button on the other side as the Create button. On the DualShock 4, which was the PlayStation 4 controller, they had an OPTIONS button in the same place.

It appears that there is a trend of taking buttons with words imprinted on them and replacing them with strange, unintuitive, and offensive symbols with no label. I'm saying this as I have a GameCube controller next to me that still says START/PAUSE, compared to the Switch controller which has a little HOME icon. More interestingly, the Wii Remote and Wii U GamePad also have the HOME icon, but additionally have the word HOME imprinted next to it. But what about the menu it brings up is reminiscent of a HOME? What about a hamburger symbol is reminiscent of navigation?

The hamburger menu icon (three vertically-oriented horizontal lines) has become ubiquitous on many mobile versions of websites when web designers want to have the navigation bar appear without cluttering a tiny screen. Then web designers got into a “mobile-first” philosophy and it's now everywhere. It's even on my Firefox browser—on my desktop—as the “open menu” button according to the tool tip. 

PlayStation 5 Blog DualSense hamburger button menu mobile
KoopaTV is better than the PlayStation Blog and its hamburgers.

Well, it's everywhere except KoopaTV. We don't and won't have one.

By accepting hamburgers as a valid design choice, you're in effect accepting hamburgers as a valid food choice. I don't want to accept hamburgers as a valid food choice. Leave Miltank alone. Leave cows alone. Do not oppress them. Pizza will always be better than hamburgers.


Disclaimer: Ludwig was never going to buy a PlayStation 5 anyway, and it has nothing to do with the hamburger menu, though he genuinely dislikes it. The hamburger. ...Well, and the PlayStation brand. He's not sure what happens later if Nintendo copies them.


Should Ludwig regret his decision not to buy a PlayStation 5? Here is its reveal presentation.

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