From the moment the easter egg was spotted in the lead up to the PlayStation 5's launch, it has been clear that the tiny button symbols situated on the bottom of the console's controller was a real labour of love. Altogether, the 40,000 icons form a grippy texture for PS5 users, which in turn makes it a far better pad to hold than previous iterations. There's also a long story behind the feature's creation, as told to The Verge over the weekend.
The design itself went through many iterations as the senior art director of Sony's design center product design group Yujin Morisawa sketched attempts by hand before they were digitised and placed onto prototype controllers. As The Verge puts it, Sony was looking for a design that was "good-looking, textured enough to be comfortable and non-slip, but not so sandpaper-rough that it’d hurt your hands over a lengthy gaming session". Once the hardware manufacturer had settled on the design we all know today, next up was actually the easy part, funnily enough.
Actually applying the symbols to the DualSense gamepad was the easy part — because they’re not applied at all. Each and every one of those 40,000 symbols is part of the controller’s shell, created when beads of molten ABS plastic are squeezed into tiny laser-cut crevices during the standard injection-molding process. The design is optimized to keep the symbols intact as they're popped out of the mold.
It's also worth mentioning that the grippy texture also features on most PS5 accessories, including the media remote, the camera, Pulse 3D wireless headset, and the DualSense charging station. The design even pops up in the excellent Astro's Playroom. Learning how the backside of the PS5 controller came to be is an interesting story, but we really recommend clicking through and checking out some of the other miniture designs Sony considered for the pad.