PS4 DualShock 4 Works With Windows PCs, Sony Keeping an Eye on Steam Box
One of the biggest advantages Microsoft has over Sony during the Xbox 360 and PS3 generation is its controller. Love the Xbox 360 gamepad or hate it, it works wonderfully with compatible PC games — simply plug in and play. Meanwhile, Sony’s DualShock 3 works, but it requires third-party drivers. This time around, Sony is looking to get its DualShock 4 into the world of PC gaming, and will make its controller work with PCs right out of the box.
PC gaming has never been a platform for standard console controllers. From real-time strategy games to MMORPGs or MOBAs to competitive shooters, the keyboard-and-mouse combo always provided the appropriate amount of inputs and the highest level of precision. In recent years, thanks to the rise of Steam and the PC indie gaming scene, more games on the platform jive better with a standard gamepad – from “retro” platformers to one-button physics-based puzzlers. If you want to have a better time playing Rogue Legacy on your PC, you’re without question going to need an Xbox 360 gamepad.
In other words, there’s a small, specific market to infiltrate, and it appears that Sony isn’t going to hand it to Microsoft on a silver platter this generation. In a short exchange on Twitter, Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida confirmed that the PS4′s DualShock 4 will work with Windows PCs in a basic capacity.
The basic capacity Yoshida referred to provides everything you need to game on a PC with a gamepad: the analog sticks and standard buttons. More advanced features, like the DualShock 4′s touchpad, will likely need extra configuration before a PC recognizes it. Even if the DualShock 4′s advanced features can be easily set up on a PC — the touchpad providing basic mouse control — the biggest obstacle Sony has to overcome would be that every PC gamepad control scheme uses the Xbox 360 controller’s buttons. Instead of Sony’s geometric face buttons and colors, PC games use the Xbox 360′s letter-based face buttons and colors. It’s disorienting when an on-screen prompt directs you to push the A button, but your controller doesn’t have one.
An easy solution would be if the DualShock 4 included the Xinput API, which is what makes a computer recognize a gamepad as a 360 controller. If Sony gave its new gamepad Xinput support, the company would be relenting a little bit — but it already won the bigger battle of Blu-ray, so perhaps it won’t mind using Xinput.
Sony could potentially have another ace up its gamepad sleeve as well. A couple of weeks ago, Valve (vaguely) revealed the Steam Box, its attempt to push Steam and PC gaming into the living room. Both Sony and Microsoft said they would be keeping their eyes on the Steam Box and SteamOS. As Valve has stated, if you don’t dig its Steam Controller, you can use any other method of input that is compatible with a PC — which would be either a keyboard and mouse or Xbox 360 gamepad. With Sony watching the Steam Box, and now making its DualShock 4 compatible with PCs, it’s probable that Sony would want to make its gamepad the alternative choice to the Steam Controller.
Considering the PS4 has such a lead in popularity and a pristine image compared to the Xbox One, the DualShock 4 install base will likely be higher than the Xbox One gamepad’s install base by the end of the year — especially considering the Xbox One controller won’t be compatible with PCs until 2014.
Sony gaining market share in the PC gamepad sector likely won’t have too much of an effect on PC gaming, but it could lead to everyone praising the DualShock 4 as the best PC gamepad out there, which would give Sony and its PS4 an even higher boost in reputation.