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Valve Software is determined to continue improving the experience of using a controller with the games on Steam. So the company is adding a new tracking tool to its Steamworks suite that reports a breakdown of gamepad use. This may encourage developers to add support for specific features built into console controllers, like those for the PlayStation 5’s DualSense.
More than 48 million players have used a controller to play games on Steam. People use a gamepad for 1-out-of-every-10 daily game session on the platform. Of course, that number fluctuates depending on genre.
So while a studio making a real-time strategy game might not concern itself with the under 1% of players that use a gamepad for those releases, developers working on third-person action adventure shouldn’t ignore than 40%-to-50% of players using a controller. And within that genre, developers can now see which controllers are popular with which games.
“But, 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,” reads a Steam blog post.
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How Steam’s gamepad-reporting feature works
Valve’s Steamworks stats can give studios a lot of insight about the controller-using audience. It provides info about how many of a game’s players have used a controller on Steam versus how many have used a controller with the specific game. It also breaks down daily active players based on gamepad usage as well.
But while it’s enticing for developers to assume that players are choosing controllers based on what they own, Valve is looking at it in another way. The company suggests that low gamepad use may suggest an opportunity to improve support for individual controllers.
For example, the above chart shows typical usage for controllers across games on PC. People do use Xbox gamepads with PC more frequently, but PlayStation gamepads still see similar spikes in usage. Whereas the chart below shows abnormally low usage for PlayStation controllers.
The implication of this second chart is that this game could improve its support for PlayStation controllers.
But the hope here isn’t exclusively about improving basic functionality when using a DualShock or DualSense. If devs can see that their improvements or updates are having tangible effects on audience behavior, that may incentivize those studios to do extra work to support extra features. That could lead to devs supporting the DualSense’s haptics or adaptive triggers.
Valve added support for the DualSense back in November.
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