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How to Use Your Xbox 360 Controller for PC Gaming

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 1
xbox 360 to pc

If you grew up in the realm of console gaming, you may find that switching to mouse and keyboard controls can be a little hard to swallow. This is especially true when you have already played the game on the console, then switch to the PC. I know the hardcore PC fans are out there raging right now that I am advocating switching to a console controller when you play PC games.

The keyboard and mouse set up can not only be hard on the hands, but on your back and elbows too. Especially if you have bad typing posture like, let's face it, most of the PC gaming community.

Did you know there is another way?

Sure you can go to pricey USB controllers to play your PC games with, or you could just use your random Xbox 360 controller that you have laying around the house. Here is a guide on how to configure that.

Setting up a Wired Xbox 360 Controller

You may think setting up a wired Xbox 360 controller for PC use is all plug in and play. It's not. Go on and try it. It didn't work, right? Not everything with a USB plug-in is ready to go automatically.

Though I have heard that some versions of wired Xbox 360 controllers automatically detect and download the software. I have never seen this happen, but you can give it a try. If you did plug it in and it automatically connected you can just skip the rest of this and go to the section below about configuring the controller for your game.

To get the wired Xbox 360 controller to work, you need to go download the software for it. Don't worry though, the software is available free of charge and free of viruses right from the Microsoft site.

After your software is installed, plug in your controller and go to the Control Panel and select Game Controllers to make sure it is working properly. Do not rely on testing it in the game you want to play because not all games automatically come set up to use Xbox 360 controllers.

More on that later though.

Setting up Wireless Xbox 360 Controllers

Where setting up wired Xbox 360 controllers is just some simple downloading, setting up a wireless controller requires a little bit more equipment and finesse.

wireless xbox 360 gaming reciever
Hooking up a wireless Xbox 360 controller to your PC requires the Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows
. This can range for $14 to $20 dollars depending on who is selling and where.

Much like the wired Xbox 360 controller, you just plug in the receiver and syncing  it to your wireless controller by holding down the button on the receiver and the controller until both lights sync up. It is exactly like syncing the controller to your Xbox 360.

Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows
Amazon Price: $19.99 $10.88 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 2, 2013)

 Playing your Game

Remember how earlier I said that not every game supports play with an Xbox 360 controller? Yeah, it's the sad truth. In fact, very few come with it built in. If it does, you will find something in the game options menu that says 'Xbox 360 Controller' you can enable that and have it good to go.

For most games though, you need to download a little extra software. If you are willing to spend a little money to get controls for just about every game, including any future releases, you definitely want to check out Pinnacle Game Profiler. I am not lying when I say it has controls for just about every game and it is constantly updated. For some games, it even has multiple control setups so you can pick the one that best fits your style. Pinnacle Game Profiler is currently costs $24.99.

Not all of us are Richie Riches though. The best cost of soft ware is free.

XPadder is the next best alternative. It used to be free, but now it costs $10.00. Which is noticeably cheaper. It you look hard enough around the internet you can still find free versions though. That's not a nudge towards illegal piracy either, XPadder didn't police the links to the free version very well. XPadder doesn't come with any preset controls, however; I have found it to be just as good as Pinnacle Game Profiler. You basically have to set the keyboard controls to your Xbox 360 controller yourself. In a way, it is better than Pinnacle because not only is it free, but the interface is much more user friendly.

Do Not Expect it to Play like an Xbox 360

The most common misconception of people who are new to playing PC games with an Xbox 360 controller is that the game will play exactly like it does on the Xbox 360. It is often frustrating to people when it does not.

For example, the first game I attempted this with was Dragon Age 2. On the Xbox 306 compared to the PC, the game has noticeably different controls. On the PC, all your spells are laid out and bound to your number keys. On the Xbox 360 you can only assign 6 or so spells to your controller. The Xbox 360 also has an auto targeting component that you will never get out of playing with an Xbox 360 controller on the PC.

Long story short, you really need to tweak the controls until you get something that works for you. Do not expect to just set up the controls and have it play like you remember it on the console. If you never played the game on the console, I feel this leaves you a little more open to create your own perfect controls. Opposed to chasing the dream of having it exactly right like the consoles players do.

If you find it too frustrating to set up something you like, best try to get used to the mouse and keyboard controls. Just make sure to give it a rest when your hands, or in my case, elbows get too sore.

Microsoft Xbox 360 Controller for Windows
Amazon Price: $39.95 $28.00 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 2, 2013)
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Comments

Dec 9, 2012 9:52pm
TheBestBoom
It's simple, but the simplest of things can be extremely difficult for those new to the game. Nice write up for those who are new to making full use of this peripheral.
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