PlayStation and Xbox controllers most popular among Steam gamers

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,194   +120
Staff member

PC gamers have long touted the flexibility of their platform as one of its biggest attributes and specifically, the range of input devices at their disposal. Presumably, the go-to solution for PC gamers is the trusty keyboard and mouse but according to the latest data from Valve, lots of players are opting to use gamepads.

Valve notes that since 2015, more than 30 million players have registered at least one controller with more than 15 million of them registering multiple controllers. The chart below provides an insightful breakdown of controller types used on Steam.

Unsurprisingly, Xbox and PlayStation console controllers are far and away the most popular among Steam players. Niche devices like racing wheels and dance pads barely make a blip on the radar, outnumbered even by plastic musical instrument controllers and flight sticks.

While console controllers are plentiful on the platform, they aren’t actually used all that much. Steam data shows that less than 20 percent of Xbox One controllers connected to an account were used in the past month and only nine percent of PlayStation 4 controllers were active within the past 30 days.

Do you use a gamepad with Steam on the PC? If so, which type and for what games? Personally, I have an Xbox One controller that I use for occasional Rocket League action but admittedly haven’t picked it up in months. I may even still have my old Microsoft Sidewinder gamepad buried somewhere in the closet.

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TomSEA

Posts: 3,237   +1,831
I use an XBox controller for primarily racing games and Rocket League. But those aren't my favorite genre, so as the article alludes to for others, it's also pretty infrequent for me.

There's one game where I switch back and forth between keyboard/mouse and controller and that's GTA V. I've tried and tried, but have never been able to get the hang of driving using a keyboard/mouse in that game, so do the switch whenever I get in a vehicle. Kind of a pain, but it does the trick.
 

MonsterZero

Posts: 585   +336
Thanks for this article, I've been looking for a controller for steamlink and I was torn between xbox and ds4, I think the xbox is going to take the cake, even though the ds4 is cheaper.

I've heard so many bad reviews about the steam controller.
 

TomSEA

Posts: 3,237   +1,831
Thanks for this article, I've been looking for a controller for steamlink and I was torn between xbox and ds4, I think the xbox is going to take the cake, even though the ds4 is cheaper.

I've heard so many bad reviews about the steam controller.
I have a Steam Controller, and it actually works quite well. But it does take some getting used to. I think the biggest problem with it is that gamers for years and years have been using the XBox/PlayStation style controllers and when confronted with something new, just don't like it.
 

avioza

Posts: 234   +197
Steam controller. A friend at work sold it to me for $20 and I use it more than I thought I would, especially for side scrollers.
 

Misagt

Posts: 310   +231
Thanks for this article, I've been looking for a controller for steamlink and I was torn between xbox and ds4, I think the xbox is going to take the cake, even though the ds4 is cheaper.

I've heard so many bad reviews about the steam controller.

I have the steam controller and I enjoy using it in many games that just don't support a native controller. But primarily I use it when I'm in the living room when a mouse isn't an easy option. The fact is that a xbox or PS controller is usually the best option for a lot of games as the games were built around it.

But if you want to play some older games your big screen, then it's really useful. Like point and click adventures, games like bejeweled. The steam controller is to give you the ability to play many games in your library that you wouldn't be able to without a mouse and keyboard. In that sense it's a good product if you want it as your main controller you might be disappointed.
 

Adhmuz

Posts: 1,991   +785
Recently upgraded from my 360 controller to the Xbone V2 controller which has Bluetooth functionality and paired it painlessly with my PCs motherboard Bluetooth. It really is a good upgrade over the old 360 controller, much more comfortable to use, unfortunately the thing chews through batteries like there's no tomorrow and has me recharging them every couple of days. Not the end of the world but the symptoms when the controller disconnects when the batteries are too low is reminiscent of hardware failure, more specifically video card failure which had me worried the first time it happened. Still better than trying to setup a mouse and keyboard in front of my 65" 4K for general gaming, racing games are great and even some less competitive shooters or PVE style games.
 

McMurdeR

Posts: 176   +135
I find Windows and Steam very finicky around controller support. I need to repair Bluetooth connections far too often, and Steam still doesn't always pick them up.
 
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darkzelda

Posts: 373   +179
I really like the Xbox One controller for some games, sport games, adventure and even some RPG, play better on game pads, specially with the Xbox one controller.
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 1,300   +1,249
TechSpot Elite
I use an XBox controller for Dirt Rally but KB for Rocket League. Yup, my damn fingers are too stupid to learn a joystick and 3 buttons on the controller for RL. So KB it is.
 

Colby Deane

Posts: 44   +12
I use keyboard/mouse and 360 controller, depending on the game. Racing games and GTA V is mostly controller, but when I'm on foot in GTA V Online I use the controller with the left hand, and mouse with the right.
 

JaredTheDragon

Posts: 679   +431
I'm a DualShock 4 fan (PS4 controller), got a pair of them. But they have some drawbacks as I don't have the Sony-brand "hub" for them, so I have to use them corded and use SCP Server to emulate the Xbox controller. It's not ideal, but they are beautiful controllers and the touchpad becomes a cheap mouse (for menus and such) when you need it.
 

GeforcerFX

Posts: 940   +429
I use my Logitech F710 the most, but I use my Steam controller a lot and I have my wired 360 controller from 2009 still kicking after thousands of hours.
 

toooooot

Posts: 1,206   +553
When my sisters kids come over, we play a game for 4. I have logitech xbox360 xbox 1 and keyboard to use. I sometimes punish some of them by giving them keyboard to use or a controller which has sticky keys. I only wish I had 2 more devices I could give to the youngest ones who dont know how to play but still fight to hold something in their hands. I sometimes give them invisible controllers and tell them they are made of pure magic but they dont have good imagination and still wanna use the newest and best looking controllers.
 

Kytetiger

Posts: 48   +14
I find Windows and Steam very finicky around controller support. I need to repair Bluetooth connections far too often, and Steam still doesn't always pick them up.
Same. I have the Xbox 360, XbOne and Steam Controller, and 2 later always lose connection, even with there dedicated bluetooth dongle. So I jut leave the 360 plugged in and use it.

But when I play FPS with k+m, because the controler is still plugged-in, it sometimes vibrate.
And how does Steam count this, as I'm playing on the controler or k+m?
 

ShObiT

Posts: 193   +186
I use Keyboard/Mouse and Xbox One Controller, it just depends on the game, Playing the Phantom Pain, NiEr Automata and games that are build around controller is pain free, but FPS and Brawlhalla (which is what I mostly do) good old keyMouse combo is the way to go.