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PlayStation 5 controller reminds Chinese gamers of a pop star’s infamous outfit

Sony’s DualSense stokes comparison with cheap knockoffs and singer Cai Xukun

This article originally appeared on ABACUS
Some hail it as a glimpse of the future. Others call it a doppelgänger. But in China, some also say that the next PlayStation controller reminds them of one particular pop star. 

Sony has unveiled the first look of its new DualSense controller for the upcoming PlayStation 5 -- the successor to the seven-year-old PS4. It will come with a number of design updates, including haptic feedback that simulates different sensations, adaptive triggers in the L2 and R2 buttons that mimic resistance, and a new Create button that replaces the Share button. 

But it’s the new look, featuring a more streamlined silhouette, that caught most people’s attention. While some Chinese netizens say they like the futuristic makeover, not everyone is a fan. 
“It ended up taking up the shape of its enemy,” one Weibo user wrote, suggesting that DualSense resembles Xbox controllers. 
“I think it lacks texture, feels especially like the cheap high-tech controllers churned out by knockoff factories,” one Zhihu user commented

Zhihu, where people in China go to ask questions and get answers

“I don’t know why but it gives me a Betop vibe,” another Weibo user wrote, referring to a Chinese manufacturer known for making budget third-party controllers. 
Chinese brand Betop carries a range of third-party controllers, including the Zeus T6 Elite gamepad. (Picture: Betop)

Unlike previous PlayStation controllers, the DualSense has two light bars on each side of the touchpad. Sony says that gives the controller “an extra pop,” but Chinese netizens say it reminds them more of an internet famous outfit worn by Cai Xukun, the teenage heartthrob who draws as many fans as internet memes. 

Cai solidified his cult status last year when NBA China named the singer a “Lunar New Year Celebration Ambassador” along with basketball stars like Klay Thompson and Damian Lillard. Detractors mocked the decision by creating satirical videos questioning Cai’s basketball skills, which he demonstrated during a reality show wearing suspenders. 
Cai Xukun plays basketball in the iQiyi reality show Idol Producer. (Picture: iQiyi via Bilibili)

Gamers are quick to draw comparisons between the suspenders and DualSense’s light bars. 

“At first glance, I thought this was a Cai Xukun special set,” one Bilibili comment said
“For every PS5 controller sold, Cai Xukun loses one pair of overalls,” another quipped
One user speculated that the design was intentional, “Sony knew this meme is hot in China and did it on purpose to get attention.” 
The hair looks familiar. (Picture: pmurt via Zhihu)
Console gaming is relatively new to China’s younger gamers, thanks to the country’s 15-year ban on game consoles that ended only five years ago. Sony has tried to reach out to players by supporting Chinese game developers. One of its Chine Hero Project games, Boundary, is slated to arrive on PlayStation 4 this year. 

Why the impact of China’s 15-year console ban still lingers today

But consoles are still too expensive for many Chinese gamers, who are more familiar with playing games on devices they already own such as PC and smartphones, according to research firm Niko Partners. Buying a console and additional controllers is still considered quite an investment. 
As one Weibo user put it, “When PS5 goes on sale I’ll buy the controller first…”

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