The Xbox controller on Windows 10 is heavily integrated with the operating system – if you buy one; it’s quite literally plug and play. Windows 10 comes with the Xbox drivers pre-installed, and everything just works.
With 3rd-party controllers, it is a different story. You might have to install drivers, or in some cases – like the PS4 controller – you might need community-supported applications that add support for these controllers by tricking Windows into thinking it’s an Xbox controller. It can often get quite complicated – or be very simple, depending on what you buy.
Steam released its Steam Controller and an API to go along with late last year, and since then have been continuously working on updating the Steam stack to add new features.
At Steam Dev Days, Valve announced native support for PlayStation 4’s Dualshock controllers via the Steam Controller API. Valve will also continue adding support for other 3rd party controllers in the future.
With this native support, anyone with Steam installed on a Windows, Mac or Linux PC will be able to use the PS4 controller for all of the 12000 titles available on Steam.
Valve says it started support with a PlayStation 4 controller because it is high-quality, and has sensors like gyro and a touchpad – but have always had weak support for the PC.
Believe it or not, when you use the PS4 Controller through the Steam API, it’s exactly the same as a Steam Controller. You make the exact same API calls, you only get actions, not inputs, and the Steam API takes care of everything.
As said earlier, support for additional 3rd party controllers is in the works; at this time, Valve refuses to give any actual dates for this just yet. Hopefully, this support doesn’t work on the infamous Valve Time.