In total, 48 million players have used a controller for a game on Steam at some point. Valve have shared that and other big numbers in their breakdown on some new Steamworks tools that help developers see the type and prevalence of controller use for their games. For us routine controller users, that could mean developers investing time in better controller support on PC. Or just reassurance that no, we are aren’t the only ones dedicated to our gamepads.
Valve say that about 10% of daily Steam game sessions are played with a controller, though they point out percentages vary heavily by type of game. “In general, a lot of players like to play a large cross section of games on Steam with a controller–which is something many people, including those of us at Valve, find a bit surprising,” they say. I don’t find that particularly surprising, but I suppose it’s because I’m usually part of that 10%.
Valve’s new Steamworks reports break down for developers how many of their players are using controllers and which kinds. Developers can also identify how many players who have used a controller in the past are actually playing their games with a controller. Valve have also got suggestions on what developers can glean from all this new data.
“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.” Or it might mean your game is an RTS, which Valve say often have below 1% of players using a controller on Steam. If you’ve got a fighting game, low controller use might be more concerning.
In particular, it sounds like PlayStation controllers could use some extra love. Valve call out a couple options for improving support for PS pad people such as using the Steam Input API or Gamepad Emulation.
“If we have just one thing we’d suggest and promote, it would be for more developers to display the corresponding PlayStation icons in game when there is a prompt for a player to hit a certain button.” I’m personally an Xbox One controller user but yeah, I feel bad for the DualShock and DualSense folks who see that “X” button prompt that isn’t actually the “X” button.
You can catch the graphs and more details in Valve’s post. If you’re rocking a gamepad for all your PC games, don’t worry. You aren’t alone.
Valve have been putting in some work on their end to improve controller support on Steam as well. They were pretty quick to improve DualSense support after the PS5 launched last November. They also began beta testing additional Xbox and PlayStation controller features in January.