Now that the PlayStation 5 has been released, the X and the circle buttons are officially swapped for Japan. Since the original PlayStation, the action button has been the circle button, while this was reversed in the West.
The X and circle buttons originally have meaning in Japan. Our colleagues at Gizmodo previously reported that Teiyu Goto, who designed the PlayStation 1 and its controllers, explained, “The circle and X represent ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decision-making and I made them red and blue respectively. People thought those colours were mixed up, and I had to reinforce to management that that’s what I wanted.” In Japan, a circle means “yes,” while an X means “no.” This could be why Sony now says the X button is called the “cross button.”
Previously, Kotaku reported that players in Japan were unhappy with the decision that Sony made to avoid different button settings across countries, easing the burden for developers. But for players in Japan, muscle memory will definitely be strong, which is why as Twitter user Hugh points out, if you press circle instead of X on the first screen, a helpful message in Japanese appears.
Also, if you stubbornly press O out of habit on the very first screen, you get a polite little reminder that it’s X from here on out, haha! ;-; pic.twitter.com/Ni2lwDsNMe
— Hugh / ヒュー (@Phenomenal_Flea) November 12, 2020
The message reads: “On the PS5, when confirming please press X and not circle.”
Helpful! Japanese sites like IT Media have pointed out that the PlayStation 5, like the PlayStation 4, does allow controller mapping, so it is possible to swap the X and circle buttons, adding though, that the on-screen prompts do not change. That could make circle in-game controls confusing, but it’s good that remapping is an option.
But for many players in Japan, the change is going to take some getting used to, and I’m sure they will. But unfortunately, perhaps, a little bit of Goto’s original intent has been lost.