The Personal Computer is a wonderful machine; you can do so much on them, and plug in a BOATLOAD of accessories, gadgets and gizmos alike. One of the biggest uses of a PC, however, and one that quite a LOT of people seem to do, is to play video games on them.
Now, I’m not talking about the typical “point-and-click” games that some, ahem, “console fans” like to stereotype what PC players play… No, I’m talking about the PROPER PC games that have taken the world by storm and have proved that using a PC to play video games can, for the most part, be the DEFINITIVE way to play.
Games such as Counter Strike and Overwatch are MAJORLY played on PCs alike, and while those games DO have console counterparts, for the most part many people seem to prefer the easier method of using a mouse to aim rather than an analog stick of a controller.
Many PC users arguably agree that a mouse is the superior way to play games, specifically FPS games where precision is KEY to winning a match, and some often downplay the controller as a “peasant’s way to play games”.
Thankfully, PCs Are FLEXIBLE!
The amazing thing about computers is how SIMPLE it is to use a console controller on them. Many players who prefer playing with consoles regularly argue that the PC CANNOT use controllers, nor can a PC player just simply sit back on a sofa or couch and relax, and is only refined to a desk and up close to a monitor…
This simply just isn’t true!
PCs are flexible, and the possibilities and total number of combinations and stuff you can use them for are ENDLESS. Got that 3D platformer game on your computer, and are finding the mouse and keyboard controls tricky to use?
Simply grab that Xbox 360 controller trapped inside the closet with the Xbox covered in dust and plug it into your computer, and presto majesto, you are able to play the PC game with a controller!
I’m a HUGE PC gamer, and have been using an Xbox 360 controller for playing some of my PC games for a while, so I am quite literally LIVING PROOF that you can use a console controller with ease on a computer.
…Now, why don’t you sit back on something a little bit more comfortable than an upright chair, relax, and let the magic of PC gaming do its… well, magic.
Is It REALLY That Easy Though?
Okay, okay, so you MAY be having a few doubts, and that’s fine; it’s good to have some doubts on stuff that seem too good to be true, and for the most part, everything I’ve said is absolutely true…
Unfortunately, technology can sometimes be a pain in the backside, and the things which you want to work can sometimes say a stern “no!” right back to you and, by SOME twist of fate, doesn’t do what you WANT it to do.
The same, sadly, can happen with simply plugging a console controller into your PC.
Fortunately, I could be of some assistance. Sure, controllers can sometimes be a little picky and not connect AND work at the same time, but that DOESN’T mean all is lost.
Here, I will be going through the things you can do when a specific console controller doesn’t seem to want to cooperate with your computer.
How to Use an Xbox 360 / One Controller on a PC
The easiest of the two main console controllers that you can use with a PC, Xbox 360 AND One controllers are quite simply plug-in-and-play with a computer.
- Plug one end of a USB cable, typically the one that comes with a console controller but it can be ANY USB cable, into the controller, and the other end into a USB slot of your computer.
- Wait for the PC to detect the controller and check that the drivers are up to date.
- Game to your heart’s content!
- Go to “Settings > Devices” on your computer.
- Choose “Add Bluetooth or other device”.
- Select “Everything else”.
- Click “Done”, and voila, you should have a wireless controller for your PC!
In order for you to do this, you will either need to use the new “Xbox Wireless” built-in system with your PC, or a wireless adapter which you can buy from either the direct Microsoft store, or from a retailer like Amazon.
- To use Bluetooth, you will need a PC with Windows 10 OS AND it needs to be running the Anniversary Update or later.
- Update your controller for the best performance. You can do this with the “Xbox Accessories” app from the Windows 10 App Store.
- Press the big Xbox button to turn the controller on.
- Press the bind button on the top of the controller for 3 seconds, then release.
- Go to “Settings > Devices > Bluetooth & other devices”.
- Turn on Bluetooth so your PC can find the controller.
- Select “Xbox Wireless Controller > Pair”.
- Your PC and Xbox One controller should finally connect and you will be able to game away!
Remember that ONLY Windows 10 can use the Bluetooth option, older OS’s won’t be able to do so. You will ALSO need to have the Anniversary Update or later too in order for it to work.
How to Use a Playstation 4 (PS4) Controller on a PC
Now, on to the harder of the two major kinds of controllers people use to play games on their PCs… the Playstation 4 controllers! While using a Playstation 3 controller on a PC IS feasible, it is EXCRUCIATINGLY difficult, and by now the PS4 is VERY popular; the PS3 doesn’t really get played much by anyone any more, sadly…
Plus, setting up a PS4 controller is FAR easier than a PS3 one…
Unfortunately, a PS4 controller isn’t just “plug-in-and-play” like Microsoft’s counterpart is… you will need to use specific software in order to allow the computer and the controller to detect and work with each other.
Steam is one of, if not THE MOST popular PC gaming store and launcher, on the Internet. It boasts 125 MILLIONS active accounts, and has over 780 MILLION GAMES up and ready for each and every user to buy and play.
It’s certainly not something to sniff at.
The best part, however, is that it allows you to use the PS4 controller while the application is running. While still currently in beta, this service is absolutely incredible and super useful if you aren’t the kind of person who wants to download additional software just to play games with something else rather than the traditional keyboard and mouse.
Here’s the steps you have to take to use the controller with Steam:
- Download Steam if you don’t have it; it’s FREE.
- Check that Steam is up-to-date; it should be if you’ve just downloaded it.
- In the top-right corner of the Steam client, there should be a gamepad; click on it and you will enter the “Big Picture Mode” of Steam. This is kind of like a controller-friendly way to use Steam. Personally, I never bother with it, but just for this it’s the ONLY way to get this to work…
- Click on “Settings” in “Big Picture”; psst, it’s the cogwheel.
- Click on “Controller Settings” from the “Controller” section.
- Tick where it says “PS4 Configuration Support”.
Once you’ve done all that, you should now be able to plug your PS4 controller into your computer with either a USB cable OR a Sony DualShock Wireless Dongle. You will then be prompted with a small window which will allow you to customize your controller to your liking.
You will be able to change the name of your controller, select whether you want your controller to vibrate or not, AND you will be able to customize the colours and brightness of your controller too!
Like I said, the possibilities are ENDLESS with PCs!
Using Other Software (DS4):
If Steam isn’t to your liking, perhaps this next piece of software may just about convince you to use a PS4 controller for your PC gaming needs…
Meet DS4! It’s essentially a piece of software which allows you to connect a PS4 controller to your PC with EASE; it’ll be EXACTLY like an Xbox controller where it’s quite LITERALLY “plug-in-and-play”.
As a matter of fact, DS4 basically FOOLS your computer into thinking that the PS4 controller is actually an Xbox 360 controller! Yeah ain’t so smart now, are ya, technology?!
On to the steps on how to setup DS4 to get your PS4 controller to work on your computer!
- Download DS4.
- Once DS4 is installed, find the .zip file where you saved it to then right click it. From there, you will be able to extract all the files to the current folder you are on, or to another folder on your computer.
- After extracting the files to your chosen folder, there should be two applications “DS4Updater.exe” and “DS4Windows.exe”.
- The DS4Updater.exe application is simply a program that keeps DS4 updated with the latest drivers; I would advice you run this file before you do anything else in case there is an update which fixed a major problem. If you encounter problems later, your first call to action should be this application in case there is a fix for it in the newest update.
- The second application, DS4Windows.exe, is our main attraction; click on it to begin the setup that will ultimately allow you to use your PS4 DualShock controller on your computer.
- Once you launch DS4 for the first time, you will be asked where you want to save your settings and profiles. You shouldn’t worry too much about this and you will be fine using the default selection of “Appdata”.
- A new window will open prompting you to install drivers for DS4; if you have Windows 10, 8.1 or 8 then you should select the first step. Windows 7 users or below should opt to select the second step.
- Connect the PS4 controller to your computer with a USB lead.
- Wait for your computer to register the controller as a device and find out if it shows up in DS4’s “Controller” section by opening up “DS4Windows”. If it shows, you will now be ready to play games on your PC with a PS4 controller!
PS: If DS4 doesn’t immediately find your controller, simply type “Device Manager” in your search bar, and open it up. Then you will need to scroll down to the “Human Interface Devices” section, and click on the drop-down arrow.
Go down the list until you find “HID-complaint game controller” – the beginning may be worded differently, but you will essentially need to find “game controller”. Right click on it, then select “Enable”. The list should refresh and now your controller should be picked up by DS4 if you open it up again.
Using these tools and software, and following all these steps correctly, you will be able to use both an Xbox 360 / One controller AND a PS4 DualShock controller on your computer. While there are many games which are better played with a mouse and keyboard, that doesn’t mean that ALL games should be played with them.
Many genres such as racing and adventure games are more suitably played with by a controller rather than a keyboard and mouse, though this is entirely down to the preferences of the user… or gamer in this case.
Thank you ever so much for reading this article, and if you have any questions or problems that you would like answers to, please don’t be afraid of dropping a comment down below and I will do my best to answer it effectively. 🙂
Have a great day, and never stop being you!