Steam Beta Allows PC Gamers to Use Nintendo Joy-Con Controllers

Steam Joy-cons
(Image credit: Future)

A fair percentage of Steam PC gamers are keyboard and mouse input devotees. Nevertheless, more choices will always be welcome, and the PC platform is incredibly diverse. This week the Steam Client (Beta) on PCs added another option for gaming controls for Steam gamers: support for Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers.

Nintendo’s detachable controllers for the original (not Lite) Switch form factor are interesting as they can work individually or in unison. Nicely for PC gamers, the latest Steam beta can handle this configuration choice. So, if you have a Switch in the house and no PC joypad, you now have access to two of the miniature controllers or a more fully featured mini gamepad. This addition could be quite a boon for your living room PC while running a party game.

However, the Nintendo Switch bundled controllers are not without their flaws. The most obvious issue for grown-up gamers would be poor ergonomics. The Joy-Cons used separately might be OK for a quick 15-minute jaunt in a casual game but probably not for any extended sessions. Even joined together in a joypad form factor, the Joy-Cons aren’t as ergonomic as heavily iterated controller designs from Microsoft or Sony, for example.

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Another aspect of the Nintendo Joy-Cons that isn't great is the issue of reliability and their susceptibility to degrading through normal use. Nintendo has been dragged through the courts due to Joy-Con issues, most notably 'stick drift.' Other controllers with mushroom-like thumb sticks have seen similar issues, including those built into the Steam Deck.

If you are interested in using your Nintendo Joy-Cons in Steam and don't want to wait until support is added to the mainstream client, you can sign up for beta updates in your client settings today. To do this, at the top left of the client window, click Steam > Settings > Account. Near the bottom right of the window, you will see the option for 'Beta participation.' Meanwhile, those who are already Steam Beta users can connect to the Joy-Cons via Bluetooth and configure them in Steam via Steam > Settings > Controller > General Controller Settings.

If you are using Nintendo Online Classic controllers, you will also find that support has improved in the August 4 published beta. These are simple replicas of controllers once bundled with the NES, SNES and N64 consoles of old but are wirelessly compatible with the Switch (and Steam). 

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • -Fran-
    Holy cow, this is nice news!

    I'm using my Steam Controller with the Deck because "why not" (more like curiosity TBH; not practical) , so adding the joycons sounds like fun for those with a Switch XD