Choosing between Controllers or the Keyboard and Mouse combo had always been one of the nicest things about PC gaming. Steam recently released a blog that detailed their findings of giving the community more power on what they could do with their controllers. So let’s take a look at those ‘results’.
The first and arguably most major thing Valve mention is that over 30 million players since 2015 own a controller with more than half of that registering multiple controllers. Those controllers aren’t just XBox or PS4 controllers. It could include Steam’s very own controller, fight sticks or racing wheels and even Guitar controllers as well.
There could be multiple reasons why these players use controllers for their steam games. Some include that they just happen to own it, they prefer it or some games are easier to play with controllers due to poor responsiveness for keyboard and mouse.
I use a controller for certain games where I feel a keyboard and mouse combo simply feels too awkward and unwieldy to use compared to the more compact controller. Games like Dark Souls, while certainly doable with keyboard and mouse, feels a lot smoother with controllers in comparison.
Surprises upon discovery
On the data collected, Valve shared some surprises on their findings. There are an unusually large amount of PS4 controller users of roughly 12 million. One of the biggest reasons for the surprise is that the controller isn’t usually treated as the PC controller.
According to the blog, it stated, “A game may prompt you to ‘press Y to jump’, when, in reality, you should be pressing the triangle button. These mental translations can be a deal-breaker for certain PS4 controller users, and we see evidence that this is occurring in the monthly playtime data.”
PS4 controller users would often have to use some sort of 3rd party software to translate it into the PC games. Controllers like the Xbox or Steam’s have similar inputs to most games and thus allows players to easily acclimatise to the game’s key bindings.
Nintendo Switch also made strong strides where it got Steam to release an update to support the controller so that players didn’t have to remap their controls to their preferred device. The graph above demonstrates the growth of how fast players on Steam are getting accustomed to the relatively new controllers.
What next for PC Controllers?
It’s clear that even if the majority of Steam controller players use Xbox controllers, there are still significant portions of other used controllers ranging from Nintendo Switch to PS4 controllers. The data provided within this particular scenario should give various developers an idea that if their PC games do support controllers, they should consider designing a system that can work out for at least the major controllers or appropriate ones (e.g. Fighting games with Fight sticks and Racing games with racing wheels).
At the end of the day, for each player, they have a preference to how they want to play the game. Whether they want to play an action RPG with keyboard and mouse, controller or even a guitar, there will be ways for developers to provide more accessibility to their players.