Wednesday, September 26th 2018

Valve Details Controller Usage on Steam, Xbox Controllers on Top

If you had told me this time last year that Valve of all companies would be peeling away secrecy layers galore, I would have laughed in your face. As it turns out, Valve is doing just that in an attempt to dissuade fears after Steam's API changed earlier this year making services such as SteamSpy less informative and useful to the public. Their latest blog post on Steam shares user details on controllers, given PC gamers have enjoyed the flexibility to use the beloved keyboard + mouse combo or go with controllers from console makers, or 3rd-party alike. As it stands, there are a lot of things to see here too.

To begin with, there have been over 30 million user accounts to register the use of a controller since 2015, of whom over 15 million have used two or more controllers. With shared and multiple accounts to consider in addition, Valve estimates as many as 60 million accounts to have a controller paired up in the last three years. Seen below is a pie chart showing the distribution of use of various different controllers, and the Xbox 360 controller reigns supreme here with over 27 million account pairings of the device (45% share). The Xbox One controller comes in next, and Valve's own Steam Controller fares decent with over 1 million pairings. More to follow past the break.
Interestingly, over a hundred thousand people have managed to register the Gamecube controller too. That aside, the other usual suspects find a mention here with the PS4 controller and also the Nintendo Switch Pro controller. As such, nearly 92% of all controllers are direct console controllers used with PC drivers, with the other 8% including the lesser seen options including dancepads and fightsticks.

Of note also is the distribution of controllers used actively, with the column chart below representing data from August, 2018. Here, things change significantly for some with the newer Xbox One controller showing to be the most actively used controller on Steam today and the even-newer Switch Pro controller proving to be a very popular peripheral as well- especially after Steam update enabling full support as seen below. The PS3 and PS4 controllers lag behind here, but seeing them presently used at all is a nice surprise given they have historically not played well with the PC. It goes to show the strong effect had by the addition of native driver support to these controllers on Steam late 2016.
If the Steam Controller was not the most popular, or even remotely close, Valve did want to show that it was being used with a large variety of games. Generally, controllers are used with specific game genres- think racing games or third-person action-adventure games, for instance. Valve had set out to make the Steam Controller user-friendly and customizable to adapt well even with mouse-driven games such as the Civilization series. This, combined with an active user base that shares profiles freely, means that the Steam Controller ends up being used with more unique games than any other- especially when it comes to games that offer less-than-stellar controller support to begin with.

The current dataset estimates that an Xbox One controller will meet the needs of nearly 65% of all Steam users if they wish to use a controller, but there remain a massive chunk leftover with games that simply can't use said controller. Indeed, they are forecasting future control methods that go beyond the norm or bring back to popularity items that no longer are (Rockband-style instruments, for example). Then there is the VR elephant in that virtual room which brings up the need to support motion controls, and also devices to cater to mixed-reality environments. There are definitely challenges ahead for Valve, and also other players in the PC realm given how fragmented we are getting with newer game launchers coming up, but there is no doubt that the PC remains the most flexible platform for HID peripherals today. Source: Valve
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30 Comments on Valve Details Controller Usage on Steam, Xbox Controllers on Top

#1
Durvelle27
I myself have alternated between the Xbox 360, Xbox One, and DS4 Gamepads
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#2
StrayKAT
I'm surprised there are that many Steam controller users. Mine collects dust. I hate it. I much prefer the 360 or Xone. I have a PS4 also, but I never connected it to PC.. but I've never had complaints with that either.
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#3
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
I do not like the DPad, Genesis or Dreamcast Please
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#4
moproblems99
I liked the PS style the best but I just seemed to start having troubles getting them to work right...unsurprisingly, the xbox controllers work just dandy...
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#5
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
More PS4 controllers than Xbox One...didn't see that coming.
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#6
HossHuge
Lots of good info. No logitech?
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#7
hat
Enthusiast
Not surprising. Xbox controllers were made to be plug and play with PC. I use a PS3 controller myself, mostly because I'm already familiar with the PS controller, and also because I can handle a driver installation to get it to work. A lot of users don't want all that, so they choose the xbox controller.
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#8
Durvelle27
hat, post: 3911714, member: 32804"
Not surprising. Xbox controllers were made to be plug and play with PC. I use a PS3 controller myself, mostly because I'm already familiar with the PS controller, and also because I can handle a driver installation to get it to work. A lot of users don't want all that, so they choose the xbox controller.
DS4 works out of box with Windows 10. No extra drivers needed
Posted on Reply
#9
hat
Enthusiast
Durvelle27, post: 3911716, member: 107186"
DS4 works out of box with Windows 10. No extra drivers needed
I wasn't aware of that. Guess my knowledge of the subject is outdated :banghead:
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#10
Durvelle27
hat, post: 3911717, member: 32804"
I wasn't aware of that. Guess my knowledge of the subject is outdated :banghead:
Yea I’ve used both. DS4 to me is way more comfortable than the Xbox One Controller but both work just fine

It’s not like the old days with DS3 where you had to download a special driver than manually mapping the buttons
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#11
sam_86314
I used a DS3 before but messing around with SCPToolkit to get it working was kind of annoying. Now I use a DS4. Really nice how it works out of the box. I just prefer the layout of those over Xbox controllers.
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#12
StrayKAT
HossHuge, post: 3911713, member: 55273"
Lots of good info. No logitech?
Seems like a lot of third party are basically XOne controllers.. if the buttons are anything to go by. Not sure the ID is listed that way though.
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#13
hat
Enthusiast
Durvelle27, post: 3911718, member: 107186"
Yea I’ve used both. DS4 to me is way more comfortable than the Xbox One Controller but both work just fine

It’s not like the old days with DS3 where you had to download a special driver than manually mapping the buttons
My experiences with a controller on PC are severely limited. I've had a SNES controller with an adapter, PS2 controller with an adapter, and a PS3 controller (first with those MotionInJoy drivers, currently with the xinput wrapper). I've mostly only used them with emulators. As such configuring them was as simple as looking at an image of said controller in the config screen, and pressing the appropriate button when selected.

I did try it with one PC game... the PC edition of Final Fantasy 7. It worked great once I got it right, but mapping the named commands to the appropriate buttons from memory (where the playstation config screen just had images of the original button and your button you chose, if you remapped any) was a bit convoluted.
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#14
R-T-B
FordGT90Concept, post: 3911703, member: 60463"
More PS4 controllers than Xbox One...didn't see that coming.
That's not what the survey indicates? Or do you mean on the market in general?
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#15
hat
Enthusiast
R-T-B, post: 3911726, member: 41983"
That's not what the survey indicates? Or do you mean on the market in general?
While there are more total PS4 controllers ever connected, there are far more xBone controllers in use within the last month compared to PS4, which is dead last (unless you were to break up "other controllers" into specific items). Guess a lot of PS4 controller users said "fuck this, I'm using the xBone controller instead".
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#16
Chane
This most likely doesn't take into account people that are using controller wrappers . I use DS4Windows as input wrapper, so my ds4 controller works with native xinput games and appears as an Xbox 360 controller.
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#17
silentbogo
Chane, post: 3911748, member: 170546"
This most likely doesn't take into account people that are using controller wrappers . I use DS4Windows as input wrapper, so my ds4 controller works with native xinput games and appears as an Xbox 360 controller.
I don't think these stats even account for anything.
There are lots of multi-mode controllers that don't even need wrappers (e.g. x360ce). For example, there are tons of cheap chinese controllers that natively support XInput and DirectInput. Plus, steam client itself includes controller configuration switching, which helps to mitigate some game compatibility issues.
As far as stats go, my Stratus XL is seen by Valve as a Steam Controller. Also, Steam game streaming features are getting on the way of proper stats. E.g. if I stream something to my phone (like last week I've been testing Vanishing of Ethan Carter on my new Nokia), the steam client treats the virtual input over network also as a Steam Controller (depending on config, once again), which means that if SteamLink uses the same approach, then any gamepad connected to the client will be treated as Steam Controller on the source PC.
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#18
Ferrum Master
Yea. Just like others said. All third parity and wrappers emulate xbox controller.

I use the the PS4 with the official Sony dongle. Works like a charm out of the box. Plug and play.
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#19
Hawkster222
I am just going to share my view , but once you play on a Xbox one controller you soon realize how much more ergonomic it is compared to 360.

But still both are phenomenal in there own ways.
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#20
Dammeron
HossHuge, post: 3911713, member: 55273"
Lots of good info. No logitech?
StrayKAT, post: 3911720, member: 174092"
Seems like a lot of third party are basically XOne controllers.. if the buttons are anything to go by. Not sure the ID is listed that way though.
I think every xInput controller is seen by Steam as x360.
Posted on Reply
#21
notb
FordGT90Concept, post: 3911703, member: 60463"
More PS4 controllers than Xbox One...didn't see that coming.
How come? Sony sells twice as many consoles as Microsoft does. :) People use the controller they already have. XboxOne's result is so high possibly because of how easy it is to connect, so there's really no reason not to use it (at least try once, which already counts).

The only weird result is Xbox360. Even if we assume almost all cheap controllers mimic it, I really didn't expect such a high percentage.
The Xbox One one is just ~$50 and it simply works.
I had only one pad before - some $20 Chinese dualshock clone - and it was rubbish in every way I could think of.
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#22
Ubersonic
Still use my Microsoft Sidewinder for some games that require fast/precise movement. 23 years later and nobody has made anything comparable.
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#23
INSTG8R
My Custom Title
I’m a hardcore Sony guy that’s never owned and Xbox but I have an Elite for PC.
Posted on Reply
#24
hat
Enthusiast
notb, post: 3911803, member: 165619"
How come? Sony sells twice as many consoles as Microsoft does. :) People use the controller they already have. XboxOne's result is so high possibly because of how easy it is to connect, so there's really no reason not to use it (at least try once, which already counts).

The only weird result is Xbox360. Even if we assume almost all cheap controllers mimic it, I really didn't expect such a high percentage.
The Xbox One one is just ~$50 and it simply works.
I had only one pad before - some $20 Chinese dualshock clone - and it was rubbish in every way I could think of.
It's hard to say with the possibility of unreliable data due to generic controllers, or even Playstation controllers being recognized as Xbox (xinput wrapper). Still, I suspect that of the people who bought a controller to use with their PC, more of them probably bought Xbox than Playstation controllers. Sony may sell more consoles, but Xbox controllers are already well known for being plug and play, while Playstation isn't. I just found out today in this thread that DS4 is plug and play, though a quick search tells me apparently the DS4 is kinda bad at just working out of the box. In addition to this, Microsoft has been working at making Xbox (at least, Xbox One) "compatible" with Windows PCs in some way, so that may also be contributing to high Xbox controller sales.

I personally bought a PS3 controller to use with my PC, because I was already familiar with the Playstation controller from years of playing Playstation games (and not Xbox) and I can stand doing the things that need done to make it work. Now, if my PS3 controller were to go bad for some reason, I'd likely get an Xbox controller instead, simply because literally nothing needs done to make it work (at least in my case, I don't even want to imagine trying to set it up for an actual PC game, but emulators are pretty easy to configure for this).
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#25
tvamos
I have used wired 360 and DS4 which I also connect with cable. Mostly DS4 lately as it works out of the box, even uses light as some rpm indicator in some games (F1 2017 I think). 360 is great for me for couch gaming, across the room.
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