Microsoft lavishes its Xbox One entertainment console with attention. It talks about gaming on the console so much that it’s pretty easy to forget that the company has a second huge gaming platform: Windows 8.
Thankfully, what PC gaming today lacks in attention, Microsoft makes up for with small important features that it will hopefully plan to build on over time. One such feature is Xbox One controller support. Very recently the company released new software that allows users to play games on their PC with the new Xbox One controller.
Here’s how to play games on your PC with the Xbox One controller, along with some titles that already support the functionality.
In the past, Microsoft PC users have been able to play games with the Xbox 360. Playing games on your PC with the Xbox One controller is very different.
For starters, there’s no extra hardware involved really. Each Xbox One comes with a wireless controller. That controller has everything it needs to connect with your PC except for a MicroUSB cable.
If you have the controller already then you’re almost set. Just look around the house for any MicroUSB cable that might have come with a recent smartphone or tablet purchase. If you can’t find one, a compatible MicroUSB cable is available for just $4.19 with free shipping from Amazon. You should also note that Microsoft’s own Play and Charge Kit for the Xbox One includes a MicroUSB cable along with a rechargeable battery pack for the controller itself. The Xbox One Play and Charge Kit costs $24.99 from the Microsoft Store.
Of course, if you don’t have an Xbox One you’ll need an Xbox One Controller. It sells for $59.99 from the Microsoft Store by itself. An Xbox One Controller and Play and Charge Kit combo pack sells for $74.99 from the company’s online store.
Unlike with the Xbox 360, there’s no wireless adapter for this controller. As such, no other separate hardware purchases or dongles are necessary.
First, make sure that your PC is connected to the internet through Wi-Fi or an Ethernet connection. This is very important. The drivers needed to power the Xbox One controller are available through Windows Update, saving users from having to hunt them down on the internet themselves.
Now, plug-in the smaller end of the MicroUSB cable into the top of your Xbox One controller.
Plug in the flat, larger end of the MicroUSB cable into a vacant USB port on your laptop, desktop or tablet.
If you’ve successfully plugged the two in than the Xbox Logo at the center of the controller will begin to glow. Then the controller will begin to vibrate and your PC may make a sound. Your PC will automatically go out and fetch the drivers needed for the Xbox One controller to work.
To double-check that the controller is connected and working properly, you need to look at the Devices and Printers dashboard.
Press the Windows key on your keyboard to go to the Start Screen for Windows 8. If you have Windows 7 this’ll open the Start Menu. Now use the Search button to look up the word Devices. For this tutorial, we’re using Windows 8. Tap or click on Devices and Printers.
Now look for the Controller icon in the window. Mouse users should right-click on it to open the menu. Touch users should place their finger on the icon and hold it there to reveal the same menu.
Tap or click on Game Controller Settings.
If everything is working properly an entry with the Xbox One’s controller should have its Status listed as Ok.
The hardest part of this experience is going to be finding games that take advantage of this functionality. That’s not saying much though. Most PC games – particularly first-person shooters like Call of Duty actually come with controller support. You’ll have to dive into each game’s Settings to enable Xbox One controller support though.
For some games, users are going to need a profile, a little piece of software that maps their controller to the game they’re playing. The Pinnacle Game Profiler is a favorite app for PC gamers. Unfortunately, it costs $9.99. Again, for some games this is not required, but it does allow users to quickly download controller profiles for their favorite titles.
That task aside, Microsoft thankfully took compatibility into consideration. The drivers that power the Xbox One controller for PC are fully compatible with the Xbox 360 version. That is to say, if a game supported the Xbox 360 controller using the Xbox One controller with it shouldn’t be a problem.
Xbox on Windows, the gaming service that Microsoft makes available to Windows 8 users, also features games that have Xbox 360 controller support and thus Xbox One controller support. Microsoft doesn’t make these easy to find but there are a few notable games that include controller support.
The most notable of these games is Halo: Spartan Assault. It’s not a first-person shooter like other Halo games, it’s a top-down shooter. Users can test out their Xbox One controller support using the Lite version of this game at absolutely no charge. The full version can be downloaded from the Windows Store for $3.49.
Asphalt 7: Heat features controller support so that users can ditch the touch and tilt controls that the game offers on other platforms like the iPhone and iPad. It’s costs $4.99, so it’s not cheap. In the Asphhalt games, users earn credits towards race cars that they use to compete against other in-game players. Ashpalt 8: Airborne, the free and latest version of the game also supports Xbox One controllers.
There’s no way to make sure that a game has full Xbox One controller support when it’s downloaded from the Windows Store; Microsoft doesn’t actually have a way denoting on the game’s page. That being said, Steam, one of the world’s most popular video game services for the PC, does have a way for users to tell if a game is controller compatible. Just look for the Full Controller Support on each game’s page.
Have fun with using your Xbox One controller on your PC. It’s important to note that the Xbox One controller can be used on devices running Windows 7 and Windows 8, it just all depends on whether that particular game supports it or not. Remember to look for controller support in the game’s settings.