Valve pushes developers to consider controller support in Steam games

The numbers don't lie.

Valve has released a ton of data encouraging PC developers to consider adding gamepad support to their Steam games. We already knew that PC gamers like using controllers despite some of the competitive merits of a keyboard and mouse combo, but their popularity has only grown over the years. Overall, 48 million players have used a gamepad in a Steam game, with about 10 percent of daily sessions being played on them, according to the latest stats.

However, the spread across genres varies wildly, meaning controller support is seemingly better suited for certain types of PC titles over others. For instance, racing games witness a high of 90 percent of controller-based sessions, while the number drops to below 1 percent for real-time strategy (RTS) games. That's understandable considering the precision and range of movement a mouse has over a gamepad, both of which are crucial for RTS titles.

However, Valve insists that players are using controllers across a large swathe of games, from sports and fighting titles (70 percent of sessions played with a gamepad) to third-person adventure games (40 to 50 percent). By comparison, the amount is drastically lower for first-person shooters at up to 8 percent, again due to the added precision they require.


Valve also revealed sessions per controller type for an undisclosed game to offer an insight into the top gamepads. The Xbox controller was in first place with 68 percent of sessions, followed by the PlayStation controller (21 percent), with the Switch Pro gamepad in third place (4 percent), and the Steam controller in last place (2 percent). Valve killed off its unorthodox gamepad in 2019, after four short years, so it's no surprise to see it at the bottom of the pile.

Having recently added support for the new PS5 DualSense, Valve is nudging developers to embrace PS pads by using its Steam Input API or Gamepad emulation to improve support for the controllers. It also suggests displaying the corresponding PlayStation icons in game when there is a prompt to hit a certain button.

In a clear signal to game devs who may be ignoring the stats, Valve says: "If the number of customers with controllers is really high, but not many of them are using controllers in your game, it might suggest that you haven’t done much (or any) work to support controllers in your game."