Steam’s robust controller support now extends to both the Xbox Series and DualSense controllers, with more support for Sony’s pad in the works.
Valve has announced timely new support for both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 controllers on its Steam PC platform. The Steam Input feature of Valve’s launcher allows Steam to translate controller inputs to games that don’t have native controller support. It came as a side effect of Valve’s work with the Steam Controller, an ahead-of-its-time piece of hardware that replaced the traditional right stick of a gamepad with a touch sensor with haptic feedback. Five years later, the Steam Controller is no more but the same haptic tech is wowing PlayStation owners the world over.
Even if Valve is no longer in the controller game, it’s quickly applied the Steam Input technology to many other gamepads players may want to use. Official support extends to controllers for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox 360, as well as a few PC gamepads made by Logitech, Razer, and SteelSeries. With any of these controllers, players can configure what each button, trigger, and stick does in each game, or go through configurations submitted by the community. Other controllers may work with the button swapping and other controller configuration features even if a Valve employee hasn’t tested it themselves. This support extends out to controllers attaching to phones via Steam’s robust support for streaming games to Android and iPhone using Steam Link.
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In today’s beta update on Steam, Valve added official support for the PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller, although its more advanced features are not supported yet. Valve has included gyro and touchpad support where applicable in the past, so it’s possible that PC players will get to sense a small part of the breadth of what the DualSense has to offer in the near future. As for the Xbox Series controller, Valve patched up a bug that had Steam recognizing it as two separate gamepads.
While the Xbox Series controller is just a small upgrade that’s fully supported by Steam from the drop, the DualSense introduces features that may prove hard to replicate on a PC without official Sony intervention. The rumble, haptics, and adaptive triggers all require drivers that Sony would have to make for PC, and support outside of Steam for Sony controllers has been minimal in an official capacity. It’s possible that fans could eventually come up with some sort of support, but with most PC games utilizing Xbox controllers support officially, it may be a long while before a simple solution appears.
While Steam Input does take a bit of a time investment to fully take advantage of, it’s worth getting over that hump to see what’s truly possible on a gaming PC. Players on Steam have taken far more advantage of the PlayStation controller’s touchpad and motion sensors than any official console game has, and even the Switch Pro controller becomes a motion-sensing powerhouse with the right configuration. With the improvements in technology and the need for some official support of the PlayStation’s new controller capabilities, it may be a good time for Valve to take a hard look at what failed with its controller the first time around, what’s worked since then, and provide a second stab at a definitive PC gamepad.
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