Controller backwards compatibility is awesome and Sony and Microsoft need to get on board with that


After seeing Nintendo’s E3 presentation and feeling an itch to get back into Smash, I bought a Gamecube controller adapter for my Switch. It honestly might be one of my best impulse purchases that I’ve ever made. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe plays great on the Wavebird, and so does Golf Story. Sure, you can’t play every game like this (Mario and Zelda come to mind), but it’s super useful for when it works. It essentially gave me more input options, and additional controllers for couch multiplayer games, at minimal added cost. That’s really cool!

It got me thinking; why can’t Sony and Microsoft do the same? There’s very little functionally separating their previous generation inputs with their current designs, and I’d wager most of us have a couple of SIXAXIS or 360 gamepads lying around. And as PC gaming aptly demonstrates, those old controllers work fine for new games. So why not let console owners in on the fun?

Has anyone else messed around with a Gamecube adapter? And if Sony or Microsoft enabled compatibility with their old controllers, would you take advantage?


Honestly, I think the reason is that because the controllers are so similar there’s hardly any actual demand for it. Nintendo did the controller thing because the Smash fan base is out of control and at some point it was probably less hassle for them to just do it than deal with the constant inquiries. There’s no rabid fan base out there demanding authenticity and muscle memory for their 360 controller in order to play the next Halo, so they have no real motivation to do it.


I do wonder where the gap exists. The DS3 and DS4 are built on top of the USB HID and bluetooth profiles, the 360 and XB1 at least do USB HID (although only the very latest XB1 controllers moved to bluetooth) - you’d think that the added work to read the right fields and map them to the new layout wouldn’t be that much for the OS layer to deal with (it is what the DirectInput etc layer is meant to do).

There is probably something slightly more technical involved (hence why it took Lab Zero Games to develop the fighting stick driver for the PS4 that allows it to work with PS3 sticks) but it does seem strange that we can plug any of these devices into a PC and watch as the DirectInput or evdev or XInput (in terms of Xbox controllers that have this extra driver option on top of also working with legacy DirectInput mapping) lights up and feeds us joypad events (with Steam stuff being a wrapper to let games coded to look at XInpuit see the DirectInput so if compatibility does come up it’s not that PCs can’t see the other devices, it’s just that quite a few recent games released on Windows only coded to read data via the new Microsoft API which the 360 pad added - sometimes this can seem confusing but fundamentally it’s not a driver issue, rather it’s an API issue).

But we can see things like DS4s working out of the box via USB on PS3s and getting patched to work via bluetooth and see that Sony even did the work for the other direction. Presumably they decided that beacuse games can read the touchpad on the DS4 that they couldn’t just leave the DS3s working on the PS4 as it would lead to some users getting prompts on the screen about doing touch inputs that they could not complete (and also there isn’t really a Share button on the DS3 as the click of the touchpad is the better map to the old Select). Basically the edge cases would make it so they would default to the DS3 not being detected and allowing individual games to add support (as fighting games do for PS3 sticks).


Thanks for the technical breakdown on this! It definitely seems possible, although in the PS4 case you do make a good point about the touchpad being a roadblock. That being said, Sony certainly doesn’t seem to mind if I use my Vita as a PS4 controller (and vice versa with the PSTV), so it’s not like there isn’t precedent for not using a DS4 with PS4 games. Plus, Nintendo seems to be ok with me using a Gamecube controller, which has no home button, social button, or even motion controls. If the complexity doesn’t alienate them, I don’t see why Sony would be so hesitant.

@CrimsonBehelit I would push back a little on the “no-demand” thing. Sure, I wouldn’t want to use an old controller as my primary input, but the growing number of same console multiplayer games on these platforms would surely benefit from having more controllers available to use simultaneously. Indie devs in particular are pushing this, with really great games like Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, Overcooked, and Towerfall emphasizing couch mutliplayer. Wouldn’t it lower the barrier for them to make a sale if a greater portion of the userbase had extra controllers lying around? This is certainly true in Nintendo’s case, as I am now thinking about picking up Mario Tennis Aces for a game night with friends tonight.


My friend has an X360 and we used to go over to his place to play Halo or CoD local multi, since he bought 3 extra controllers for this purpose. When he got an XONE, he again preemptively bought 3 extra controllers so we could play games there (not that newer Halos or CoDs support 4 player splitscreen (we did play Diablo 3)). So now he has 8 controllers, 4 of which will never be used at the same time as the other 4. So yeah, would have been nice to save him a couple hundred bucks if the older controllers were supported!