Has it become mandatory to update your PS5 controller?
The PS5 DualSense is a pretty advanced piece of engineering, and like most modern controllers, it’s pretty much a computer in itself. With all the features packed in it, it’s not surprising that the thing actually has a firmware that occasionally needs upgrading, to keep in line with the console’s updates.
PS5 DualSense firmware upgrade now forced?
Nonetheless, DualSense firmware upgrades used to be optional, although the system would nag you about them every 24h.
Scene member Roc6d mentions that for the latest firmware upgrade, the controller update has now become compulsory, otherwise the controller will simply turn off. Other people have confirmed this behavior.
From a security and feature standpoint, it makes sense that PlayStation would want to keep the PS5 and its controller in sync. If a new feature is made available, it’s easier if all involved components are running the latest and greatest.
Of course it’s easy to imagine that the PS5 system is able to keep a history of controller features based on their firmware version, and should be able to use older controller (from a software engineering perspective, having a server that supports older client versions is a solved problem, and this is no different), and as such there is no technical reason that a controller should be kept up to date constantly, except for convenience and ensuring users get the latest version.
Could the PS5 be hacked through its DualSense controller?
From a security perspective however, the problem might be different. It’s possible that the DualSense has some privileged access to some of the PS5’s firmware, and one could imagine it could be used as an attack vector from hackers. We have to assume some hackers already know how to dump the DualSense firmware (although maybe in encrypted form), and that someone, somewhere, is keeping an archive of those…
For now, if you want to enjoy your PS5 for gaming, there is no choice but to update your controller to the latest firmware revision.