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In brief: Steam has a new beta patch that supports the Nintendo Switch's original Joy-Con gamepads. The feature comes just a week after Valve added compatibility for Switch Online classic controllers. The company has gradually brought various controllers onboard over the years, and the list will likely keep growing.
This week's Steam client beta adds support for Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers. The launcher can now recognize the dual gamepads as separate mini-controllers or paired as a single controller. The update gives users more control options, making it valuable when playing local co-op games on PC.
Last week, Steam gained support for the NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, and Nintendo 64 controllers that Nintendo released as part of its Nintendo Switch Online service for playing classic games. The latest Steam patch also includes unspecified improvements for those controllers. Switch Pro controller support came in 2018. So now Steam supports just about every Nintendo controller.
To switch between Steam's beta and main branches, open the Steam client and head to Steam > Settings > Account. Look under "Steam Beta Update" and click "change," which will open a dropdown menu containing beta options.
A notable feature of Steam's Nintendo controller support is the ability to automatically swap Nintendo button assignments to compensate for the differences between Nintendo's preferred button layout and Microsoft's standard PC controller setup. So now, Xbox button prompts in PC games will correctly correspond to the alternate positions of those buttons on Nintendo controllers.
Valve's service added PlayStation 5 DualSense support in 2020. That patch included the controller's indicator LEDs, rumble, trackpad, and gyro features. Since then, the list of PC games using DualSense's haptic feedback and adaptive triggers has gradually grown, though they require a wired connection. The Joy-Cons were the last official controllers from a console manufacturer that Steam didn't officially recognize.
Nintendo's Joy-Cons will gain native compatibility with Apple devices this fall when Apple's iOS 16 launches. The beta already supports the controllers both individually and in pairs, potentially opening the door for Backbone-like iPhone attachments utilizing them. Recent patents suggest Apple is working on a gamepad. If they pan out, Valve will likely add Steam support for it as well.