Valve says "more players than ever are choosing to play Steam games with a controller," and nearly 60% of them are on team Xbox

(Image credit: Future)

More and more PC gamers, or at least those whose device of choice is tracked by Valve, are pushing their mouse and keyboard aside to either plop their controller on their desk mat or, like sensible people, recline their gaming chairs a few notches, push their arm rests forward, rest a controller in their lap, and relax like their console-playing fellows. Steam controller usage is up to 15%, Valve reveals in a brief new report, and "the controller landscape has changed." 

That figure, a daily average for controller usage across Steam users, was just 5% as recently as 2018. Valve says that around 42% of controller players go directly through Steam Input – which seems surprisingly low to me given how convenient it is compared to third-party tools, but another figure may explain some of this – and the controller makeup itself is equally interesting. 

Valve notes that 59% of Steam's controller players are using Xbox controllers, though it doesn't specify which generation of Xbox. The old trusty Xbox 360 model is so timeless, cheap, and easy to use (at least on Windows, where it's very plug-and-play) that I'd wager it represents a significant portion, but the Xbox Series X|S line also feels incredible in your hands.  Our hardware team even considers the Xbox Wireless Controller one of the best PC controllers.

"We shipped a driver for Windows allowing us to better support Xbox One controllers, including the rear buttons on the Xbox Elite Controllers," Valve adds, laying out some of the ways it's enhanced controller play over the years.  

PlayStation comes in at 26% of users, with Valve's own Steam Deck, counted as a controller for these purposes, at 10%. "We worked with Sony to improve support for PS controllers including DualSense Edge, and can now automatically support future 3rd party licensed PlayStation gamepads," Valve says. 

The remaining 5%, I assume, consists of controllers of various other brands, from third parties to Nintendo. People are sleeping on the Nintendo Switch Pro controller, I'm telling you. As Valve says, Steam Input supports over 300 controllers, now including the Japanese HORIPAD made specifically for Steam. We've even got proper button prompts for most controllers across most games, so you don't need to memorize four different X button positions anymore. What a time to be alive. 

Steam Summer Sale hasn't even started yet, but its new "Deep Discounts" category boasts 95% off reductions and has my wallet quaking.

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.