Official controllers come in one shape, and one size. Most of us either aren’t bothered by the fact, or have learned to work around it over the years. Being in the former camp, I’ve never really considered the need to help extend the grip of my standard controllers – after all, I have the small, soft hands of a pampered middle schooler. But the need is out there for some folks to find solutions that don’t give their hands cramps during extended gaming sessions.
Enter Playbudz, a company aiming to find solutions to crampy hands with their rubber grip extenders. Just take note that your mileage may vary depending on the size of your paws.
Product: Playbudz Grip Extenders
At 5’9″, I’m not exactly a tall guy. I have the not-exactly-a-tall-guy’s hands to match. So when I first got the rubber grips that essentially look like giant spur tips for a bass drum, I was a little skeptical. I also figured that in all fairness, I should get a report from a person who doesn’t have to get a chair to reach the top shelf in his kitchen cabinet. So I’ll provide some thoughts from the ground floor, and I’ll have Token Tall Friend Eric report from the clouds.
First off, the extenders are essentially rubber tubes that slide over the grips of your controller. They’re one size and are purported to fit most standard PlayStation and Xbox controllers from the past couple of generations, as well as Nintendo’s Pro series of controllers for the Wii U and Switch. I tested mine out on my DualShock 4 and Xbox 360 gamepad, and while it’s a bit of an initial squeeze to get the suckers on there, they do stay pretty firmly in place once on. I didn’t do any real switching back and forth between the two controllers, but with the different shape of the grips between the two models, the rubber seems like it would eventually loosen to lose its grip on the smaller of the two. It’s something to look out for if you do plan on using the grips for more than one system.
As for the feel of the grips themselves, they do as advertised and provide extra room for your hands to hang onto the controller. As previously stated, I have very small, very un-presidential hands, so the design of the PlayStation 4 controller is already more than enough for me. While the grips were on, I didn’t feel any real discomfort of any kind; the rubber used for the product is soft and provided just enough traction to keep my pinkie and ring finger from sliding around anywhere. And having that little extra bit to cling onto on the lower half of my hand helped me to relax my grip a bit, giving a less strenuous experience.
Unfortunately for me, the added length on the handle of the controller actually had the effect of spreading out my hand more than was comfortable. Hitting the face buttons and handling the sticks was no less of a task while using the grip extenders, but when I needed to use the shoulder buttons I found my index and middle fingers really having to reach much farther than they otherwise would. Having my hands wrap around the controller’s natural grips and having my back fingers rest while not using the triggers comes naturally; adding extra grip spreads out my middle finger from my ring finger, making the extra reach a bit of a chore. It not only made me less responsive to the buttons when on them, but slightly increased the time it took me to find them. I stick mainly to single-player games and co-op for multiplayer, so it was never exactly a dealbreaker for me. But if you’re a competitive gamer with small hands like me, I can see this having an effect on twitch-based gameplay.
All in all, it’s a product I’m sure will help some gamers, but wound up being a detriment to how I grip and play with a controller. I have a hunch that those with bigger hands will get much more use out of this, but I’ll let a representative of tall people everywhere speak on the matter.
Background: I am 6’4″, and on the surface I seem to be the target market for these controller extenders. I have above-average sized hands, and though I’ve never had an issue using my PlayStation 4 controller, these extenders seemed to want to solve a problem that I didn’t have. In the end, they showed me that I had a small problem I never knew about.
When Wes handed me this product for testing, I’ll admit – I laughed. It’s just two little hobknobs that stick to the end of my controller. I couldn’t fathom ever walking through a store and immediately being drawn towards making a buying decision on sight.
Installing was a breeze. The two extenders simply slide on your controller handles and you can adjust to your comfort. When I grabbed the controller and begin to play, I felt strange. Without looking at my hands, it felt like I was holding a new controller. I awkwardly ran through some Madden 18 and had trouble playing defense. As time went on my comfort increased to the point where I felt almost normal holding the controller.
I still couldn’t tell exactly what was different about using these extenders until I looked at my hands. Where I usually have to grip the controller with my middle and ring fingers:
I was now gripping the controller with my ring and pinky fingers without making a conscious choice.
As a result, my hands felt freer and more mobile while holding the controller, and I had an easier time reaching buttons I normally have to adjust my whole grip to hit. Was it game-changing? No. But as silly as the product seemed at first glance, I understood the benefit and realized some of the small difficulties I have been ignoring while gaming.
- Simple to install and adjust.
- Has a noticeable affect on how you grip the controller.
- Looks awkward and clunky on the controller.
- The material used tends to cause dirt and dust to easily stick to the extenders, and may need to be cleaned regularly.
In summary, if you can ignore the aesthetically-challenged part of the product, it does have some benefit. These aren’t just for us tall folk – take a look at how you hold your controller the next time you play. If you find your pinkies hovering as if it were tea time, you may be interested in these extenders.
[This review is based on a retail build of the hardware provided by the publisher.]