Huzzah! Steam Finally Embraces Sony's DualSense Game Controllers

hero steam gamepads playstation
It's one of the arguments of the age: like Coke vs. Pepsi, Apple vs. Samsung, or Nike vs. Adidas, the choice of Xbox or PlayStation is a highly contentious one. There are a lot of factors that fans take into account, but arguably the biggest one is simply your choice of controller layout; where Xbox pads have the left stick far and the right stick near, the PlayStation paradigm places both sticks in the center of the controller. Whatever your allegiance, though, they're both equally at home on Steam, now.

You've actually been able to use DualShock and DualSense controllers on Steam for a good while now. Valve has an abstraction layer called Steam Input which sends generic joypad inputs to games based on profiles that users can create, configure, and share. The DualShock and DualSense pads can be used with Steam Input to work with almost any game that supports gamepads at all, but some games also have native support for them.

steam controller search filtering

Native support for Sony's gamepads on PC games means not only better control, but also potentially support for the special features of those controllers, such as motion input or high-resolution haptics. It's difficult to know which games have that support, though. That's why Valve is announcing an overhaul of the way that the Steam store represents controller support to gamers on store pages.

Now, when looking at a game's store page on Steam, you'll be able to see at a glance which controllers it supports as well as whether it actually makes use of the Steam Input API natively or if it has native support for DualShock and DualSense controllers. You'll also be able to use these options in searches as well, and they'll appear in the Compatibility section of library pages, too.

controller support steam

Along with the announcement, Valve proffers some data on controller use among its playerbase. Incredibly, the company says that only around 12% of "active players" on Steam are "regularly using" gamepads. While that number seems extremely low, keep in mind that the vast majority of active players on Steam are actually playing PC-centric games like Dota 2, Lost Ark, and Baldur's Gate 3, as well as competitive FPS titles like Counter-Strike 2, PUBG, and Apex Legends. In both cases, players are more likely to be using mouse-and-keyboard controls.

Also, Valve notes that this number can be much higher for specific games. The company points out "popular ball sports games" as well as "punishing RPGs" (read: FromSoftware games) as being two categories of games where a majority of players are using controllers. Certainly there are some games that are simply better enjoyed on a gamepad thanks to the ability to have more controls at your fingertips and improved analog movement.

If you're wondering why someone would bother to use a PlayStation controller instead of a PC-native pad or an Xbox device, there are all kinds of reasons. Perhaps they have a PlayStation system and simply want to use the controller to play some games. Alternatively, maybe they want to make use of the DualShock or DualSense's unique features, like the touchpad. Of course, they may simply prefer the layout or the feel in their hand, too. Whatever the case, if PlayStation pads are appealing to you, rejoice in the newest Steam update.

controller configuration button
This tiny shortcut button will be very handy for users of Steam Input.

Other changes coming along with the new version include a notice for when developers recommend pads, a shortcut button for gamepad configuration on games' library pages, a clearer notification when a game requires a gamepad to play, and new launch process steps that explain when Steam Input is in use, which are very welcome. Hit Steam to see the full list of changes.