As much as we love playing PC games with a keyboard and mouse, there are certain games where a controller just makes things easier, especially sports games. So, it’s not surprising that more than 30 million players have registered at least one controller on Steam, and more than 15 million have registered more than one. What is surprising, however, is that the Xbox 360 controller is the most popular option, and it’s not even close.
Valve released data that breaks down controller usage on Steam, in part to pat itself on the back for supporting different controller types.
“Controller compatibility in PC games used to be managed only by the individual game developers, meaning a game supported a predetermined set of hardware and players selected from these prescribed input options. In 2015 we began an experiment to find out what happens when the community is less constrained. We shipped tools that allow Steam users to map controls from various devices (e.g. Steam Controller, PlayStation controllers, Xbox controllers) to any combination of inputs that the title understands (e.g. keyboard keys, mouse movement, controller presses)…Three years later, the Steam Input experiment is starting to bear interesting results,” Valve says.
In total, there are more than 60 million controllers paired to Steam, when counting both accounts with multiple controllers, and controllers that have been registered to multiple accounts.
Microsoft is way out in front of the pack. There are nearly 40 million combined Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers on Steam, which makes up the fast majority. Interestingly, the single most popular controller is the Xbox 360. There are 27.2 million Xbox 360 controllers registered to Steam, which accounts for 45 percent of all controllers. PlayStation 4 controllers are a distant second at 12.2 million, or 20 percent. Those figures jump to 16.3 million and 27 percent, respectively, if including PS3 controllers, but they don’t close the gap.
“How, exactly, did [Xbox controllers] become the default? A decade ago, Microsoft made a concerted effort to drive adoption of XInput, the underlying protocol, and that work resulted in widespread support by game developers. Because built-in support is overwhelmingly XInput support, an Xbox controller is a good bet to seamlessly play many different titles,” Valve explains.
Valve reckons that the gap between Xbox and PlayStation controllers would be smaller if more games offered seamless support for the latter. It also believe that a potential “solution” lies in full Steam Input integration on the game side. That’s something Valve intends to discuss at a later date. In the meantime, the company says there is a large, untapped community of PS4 controller users on Steam.
All this assumes the data is accurate. A user commented that “many of those ‘Xbox 360’ controllers may actually be PS3 or PS4 controllers through ScpToolkit, emulating a 360 controller.” For anyone not familiar, ScpToolkit is a free Windows driver and XInput wrapper for DualShock 3 and 4 controllers, so the user might have a point.
Do you use a controller with Steam games? If so, which one(s)?
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