Steam Input adds native Switch Pro Controller support

Steam: Switch Pro controller

While one of the best things about having a gaming-spec PC is the sheer freedom you have in input devices, it really does help to have a reliable, widely supported gamepad. My current go-to is the XBox One controller, but there might be another competitor on the horizon. You’ll have to opt in to the latest Steam beta to use it, but you can now use a Nintendo Switch Pro controller on Steam, remarkably useful gyro-aiming and all.

Oi, you, stop laughing at the back. Anyone who has played Splatoon to any pseudo-competitive degree will be able to tell you that gyro aiming is what makes that game sing – see the video below for proof. Your analogue stick handles the broad strokes in aiming, but properly configured you can line up a precision shot by just tilting the controller a tiny bit. It’s not only effective, but remarkably satisfying, and rewards steady hands in a way other devices don’t. Plus, it’s far more intuitive for people who tend to go heavy on analogue aiming and find themselves overshooting targets.

On the whole, the Switch Pro controller is largely similar to the Xbox One design, only with a couple extra function buttons on the face, a slightly different D-pad design, plus the perk of gyro aiming. It also has smoother, more granular vibration support, although most PC games wouldn’t know what to do with that. Hopefully some indie devs will lead the charge and start natively supporting it, but at least regular XInput vibration should map nicely to it for now.

As this is all integrated into the Steam Input UI, you can not only use official controller profiles from Valve, but create your own and share them with others on a per-game basis. It’ll be interesting to see what people come up with. The Switch version of Doom 2016 already has some pretty well-tuned gyro-aiming, so it’d be nice to see people use that as a base template for FPS’s. Plus, this should provide an interesting new mid-point between traditional gamepads and the Steam controller’s touchpads.

For those considering jumping on the bandwagon without even owning a Nintendo Switch, be warned: The Switch Pro controller costs a pretty penny, coming in at around £55 RRP in the UK, and $70 in the US, making it one of the more expensive controllers out there, but it does at least have the advantage of Nintendo build quality.

35 Comments

  1. comic knight says:

    Hardwire Xbox 360 controller for life.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      The 360 used to be my standard, but the D-pad on it is complete rubbish. Plus, the analogue sticks are starting to wear down.

      I’ve got my XBox One controller set up wired now.

      • Viral Frog says:

        I can’t speak to the XBONE’s controller, but the PS4 DualShock controllers are my favorite. I gave up on the Xbox 360 controllers specifically because of their awful D-pad. This is the only generation of PlayStation controller that hasn’t felt uncomfortable and unwieldy in my hands.

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          phuzz says:

          I’ve always preferred Playstation controllers (the analog sticks should be symmetrical damint!), but I got a wired xbox controller, which is ok, and I doubt it’ll ever die.
          Microsoft maybe many things, but they do have a habit of making unkillable input devices. I’ve got half a dozen Intellimouse’s knocking around, still working perfectly.

        • Astaa says:

          I use the DS4 and really like it. My only problem is the steam interface and the fact that it does not replace the (I presume) xbox button symbols.

          It’s great that its supported but really problematic at times with on screen prompts.

    • Freud says:

      I’ve had one for at least five years and it still works well. Since the desktop isn’t going anywhere, I never saw a point of getting a wireless controller. The cable is long enough to sit in a comfy chair a bit away from my screen when I play a game suited for gamepad.

  2. mkotechno says:

    Unless you are plaging fighting games, playing with other than the Steam Controller in PC is wrong, very wrong.

    • comic knight says:

      I use keyboard and mouse for most games. Controller is go to for fighting, and some select games like the Lego series. Most importantly though because I don’t want to buy a wheel for driving games. Have you tried the steam controller for driving games. If so how does it compare to a traditional 360 pad?

      • mkotechno says:

        Using the gyro for driving games is 1000x more accurate than a thumbstick.

    • Viral Frog says:

      I mostly use mouse and keyboard, followed by my Steam Controller, then my PS4 controller. The touch-pads on the Steam Controller are great for some games, but absolutely terrible in others (such as anything that you need a D-Pad or right analogue stick for).

    • Det. Bullock says:

      Mouse and keyboard first, then HOTAS for spacesims, mech and arcade flight games, then arcade stick for fighting games and gamepad for the occasional port that has rubbish M+K support for some reason and the occasional emulator.
      For people that have a switch and no other pad this might be really good news since they wouldn’t need to buy another pad for their PC.
      The steam controller is something I never cared about, I don’t play “on the couch” with my PC and I hate touchpads with a passion.

      • mkotechno says:

        What shines in the steam controller is the gyro, not the touchpads

        • Det. Bullock says:

          I used gyro aiming with the wii and I don’t find it that attractive either, you cannot just relax and let your hands rest like you can do with a gamepad, keyboard, mouse or even a joystick (either type, either you have the big box thingy of the arcade stick or the handrest of the flightstick), unless you want to limit your movements you have to keep the pad at sufficient height.

          • SilkBot says:

            It’s not the same as aiming on a Wii. The Wii had the sensor bar with infrared light to determine what the Wiimote is pointing at. Gyro aim works at any angle, but doesn’t accurately remember its position after flinging the controller around.

            That means you can absolutely hold the controller in a relaxing state. For instance, when I play FPS with it, I use the trackpads for general aim, and the Gyro is only activated when I have my thumb resting on the touchpad.

            So you can have your controller resting on your lap or whatever. You aim at a target by swiping your thumb across the trackpad, and as soon as your crosshair is near the target, activate Gyro aim, with which you only have to make tiny movements to get the cursor over your target’s head. It’s not at all the same as using a Wiimote and definitely not tiring.

    • dethtoll says:

      Bullshit. I’ve been using Logitech pads for years and I can’t imagine using anything else. What is even the logic behind your comment, some kind of weird PC master race nonsense?

    • Raoul Duke says:

      Rubbish. The bluetooth xbox one controller is superb.

    • KDR_11k says:

      2D games are best played with a controller now. If you have more than 2-3 action buttons keyboard control sucks because they get hard to hit blind and you can quickly hit the simultaneous key limit of your kb.

      • SilkBot says:

        Why would you have to hit them blind?! I have my right hand on arrow keys, my right pinky on keypad0, left thumb on CTRL right, and my left hand fingers all rest on the same buttons – shift, a, w, d, spacebar. That should be more than enough buttons for any platformer, and even if not, if you can’t find Q, E, S, F, C, X, or Z “blind” from the A, W, D position, you may have bigger issues.

  3. King in Winter says:

    For a controller, I use my PS3 one, though I had to throw in a service (at least on Win7) that bullshits the system into thinking it is an xbox controller.

  4. SaintAn says:

    Get the controller while you can. The new president of Nintendo is a greedy idiot that will be focusing on phone games.

    • Kitsunin says:

      So where did this idea come from?

    • UncleLou says:

      He’d indeed be a massive idiot if he ignored mobile games *if* they allow him to be “greedy”, whatever that is supposed to mean when used for a company.

  5. Kitsunin says:

    Neat! I just got one, and it’s a lot more comfortable than a standard xbox or ps4 controller. Gyro aiming is excellent, not quite as good as mouse + keyboard but it surprisingly comes pretty close. Now what would be awesome would be PC games with HD rumble; it’s actually a pretty big deal, adding a great deal to immersion for games which use it well.

  6. DanMan says:

    Just for the record: the Steam Controller does gyro-aiming, too.

    • Harlander says:

      One of these days I’m sure I’ll actually try using it…

  7. barelyhomosapien says:

    For what it’s worth, the Switch Pro Controller feels really solid and comfortable. It’s got a satisfying heft and sits comfortably in the palm, it’s a lovely piece of kit.

    If it didn’t cost so much I’d recommend it as a valid game pad for the PC. But the Xbone pad beats it out, especially the newer revision as you can get them for half the price.

    • SilkBot says:

      I got to try it out and was yet again disappointed by the lack of a decent dpad.

      I’ve genuinely been looking for years now; if anyone knows a dpad on a controller that comes at all close to the Nintendo DS/Gameboy Advance SP dpads, please do let me know!

      Mind you, it’s specifically those devices. Not the DS Lite or original GBA, which had trash dpads.

  8. fray_bentos says:

    Don’t bother; there are no analogue shoulder buttons on the Switch controller. Stick with a PS4 or Xbox controller.

    • UncleLou says:

      Definitely should be pointed out, but also doesn’t matter for the vast, vast majority of games. Basically, every game doesn’t feature an accelerator for a vehicle is fine.

    • RuySan says:

      This. If you ever feel the urge to play a racing game, don’t.

      And apparently the d-pad has awful precision, according to opinions and reviews around.

      • Sunjammer says:

        It’s a pretty good one, just a little big with a little too much travel

        • Kitsunin says:

          Non-new ones (check for he serial ending with “C”) would register inputs even from light presses, so you’d often hit diagonals without meaning to. Without that issue, it does pivot in such a way that if you try to go left-to-right while maintaining pressure it will rock on the way and do an unwanted up/down input. The way I use a d-pad this isn’t any kind of issue, and for most games it won’t be an issue if it does affect you.

          It still feels a lot better than a PS4 d-pad (and OBVIOUSLY is better than a 360 pad, but I can’t compare to xbone) although it’s less precise. I like it because I prefer the xbox analogue/d-pad positionings.

          • RuySan says:

            Still, considering the price it’s completely unreasable that it doesn’t work right.

            I never liked Sony gamepads before, but they got it right with the DS4.

    • Sunjammer says:

      The lack of analog triggers is a bummer but I can count the games I need them for on half a hand