How To Use The Steam Controller With Non-Steam Games
(Last Updated On: May 20, 2016)

Valve’s Steam Controller is a real marvel. The device is extremely customizable and allows users to play just about any game with it, whether it’s controlling as a standard Xinput device or as a emulated keyboard and mouse. One of the biggest problems a lot of people have with the Steam Controller is getting it to play games and to work with software that is not native to Steam, such as Uplay games, Origin titles, and games from GOG.com.

Thankfully, Valve recently updated the Steam Controller to work outside of Big Picture Mode, this enables gamers to basically add any executable to Steam and use the controller with the program, without being in Big Picture Mode.

Now first up you can modify the sensitivity, functionality and the control type for your Steam Controller for use outside of Steam itself by pressing on the Steam Home button at the center of the controller. This should open up Steam; press the Home button again to go into Big Picture Mode. From here, use the analog stick to move the cursor over to the Settings tab at the top of the screen and then proceed to click on the Steam Controller configuration settings for the desktop.

You can modify the sensitivity and functionality of the right haptic pad – which is usually used to emulate the mouse on the main Windows screen – by clicking on it and changing its functionality. If you prefer trackball you can use that, but if you want to use the right haptic pad as a touchpad mouse, you can simply turn off the trackball feature, go into the advance settings and turn on mouse smoothing, and slightly lower the sensitivity. This will practically give the haptic pad the usability of a touchpad.

The general options menu in the Big Picture Mode applies to the general usage of the Steam Controller outside of Steam. So use those settings for things like utilizing the controller in place of a mouse or playing browser-based games.

Next up, if you want to use the Steam Controller for non-native Steam games simply open up Steam, click on the top of the toolbar where it says “Games” and click on “Add A Non-Steam Game To My Library”.

In that particular example it’s Screamer 2 from GOG Galaxy. Unfortunately one of the coolest racing games from back in the late 1990s isn’t available on Steam. However, you can add it from GOG Galaxy to your Steam library.

Once you click “Add Selected Programs” you can then scroll down to that game – in this case, Brutal DOOM, since it’s also not natively supported in Steam – and right click on the game and there should be an option to “Edit Steam Controller Configuration”, assuming your controller is turned on.

From there you can customize the button layout, the haptic pad setup and the trigger and button setup. If the game supports native Xinput devices you won’t have to do much as the game will pick up the Steam Controller as an Xbox One or Xbox 360 controller, which is very useful, sort of like with older games such as Bully or GTA: San Andreas.

If a game is so old that it cannot detect the controller automatically as an Xinput device, you can assign the Steam Controller basic keyboard and mouse functionality so that it can still emulate the basic PC controls in a non-Steam game, sort of like how it’s setup in the image below for Streets of Rage Remake.

The controller is exceptionally versatile and if you want it to simply emulate a mouse, you can. If you want it to emulate a trackball, you can. If you want it to emulate a touchpad, you can. The options are practically endless and there is a deep amount of customization available so no matter new or old the game is, you can simply add non-Steam games to your library, turn on the controller, click on the edit the configuration option, and proceed to setup the Steam Controller however you like.

The biggest issue I’ve had with the controller is simply that the face buttons are too low on the controller and too small. Otherwise it’s almost better than the Xbox One Elite Controller.


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Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.