"Pro" Controllers - Should I feel bad about using them?


So, I saw this on the Playstation Blog today - an officially licensed “Performance” controller will soon be available for PS4.

Now I’m someone who likes having the latest technology with a big soft spot for the look and design of the stuff I buy. When it comes to video game hardware, this is especially true. For instance, I may have 7 Dualshock 4 controllers of various colors…(or hey, I may not).

Now I personally prefer the symmetric stick layout of Dualshock controllers over Xbox controllers and found that the company behind this new controller in the above article sells a similar controller with the stick layout I prefer.

So this brings me to my question. I find the idea of a customizable controller (e.g. analog sticks of various shapes and sizes that you can switch out, remappable and removable back paddle ‘buttons’, etc.) very appealing, and one with extra buttons just…:drooling_face: However…I don’t like the idea of having a competitive advantage (for PvP games at least) coming from the controller that I use, and many of the additional features this controller provides seems like it can offer such a thing. Should I deny myself such a nice piece of hardware for petty moral matters like ‘fairness’ lol? I’m curious Waypointers, what are your thoughts about non-standard controllers that can offer players an advantage?


If they’re freely-available, officially licensed, I don’t see any issues with it. I know having more range of motion with a higher stick can make a difference at a pro level, but for just playing online, it’s just a comfort thing (I use KontrolFreek thumbstick grips all the time because the DS4 sticks are just too short).

I can see how having the paddles eliminates the microseconds it takes to move your thumbs, but until the paddles are as second-nature as the buttons are, you’re going to be losing a lot more time as your brain tries to remember which paddle is which than you will be making up saving your thumb from moving 1/2 an inch.

The only part of the Elite controller that I can see giving a competitive advantage to a typical player is the quick triggers, but even those are nominal.

When you start getting into controllers with programmable macros is a different story.

eta: If any of those things really make you uncomfortable, you can always disable them. On the Elite controller, the paddles can be removed (or just programmed to do nothing) and the triggers can be toggled between standard/quick. So you get exactly the same layout/functionality as everybody else, just in a controller that feels like a tool more than a toy.


As someone who is, at best, at the apex of the bell curve in most games, I don’t really care all that much. The competitive edge most people have against me is already just basic skill. There’s no ceiling I’m butting up against where the minor edge that a non-standard controller is the thing keeping me down as I’m already just handling the equally mediocre.


All the people who want an advantage on Console are using those mouse adapters anyways that let them use M&K for FPS games so this thing ain’t nothing


As someone who played a TON of Titanfall 1 on PC with a controller, I think the community puts way too much stock in input devices. Sure, if I’m an “MLG-pro strats” type it may enter the equation. But if it’s a Friday night and I’m on my third beer, input efficiency is the least of my concerns. So yeah, don’t feel bad about getting something better, because that 12-year old with a drifting right stick is still gonna 360-no-scope you.

Also, kudos on the controller fetish. I’ve got a line on a pair of choice Wavebirds right now that I absolutely do not need. But Wavebirds!


If the specialty controller is overall more comfortable and solid-feeling than the regular one, you can afford it, and want it, then you shouldn’t feel guilty for buying one. I have the xbone elite controller and it feels incredibly nice.

Personal rant: it was a gift from my roommate, but it was also a refurb, with a left stick drift problem. Microsoft offered a free repair, but forgot to mention that I needed to take the removal parts off, and basically told me to buy a new set of them to replace the ones their facility took.

Thanks roommate, thanks Microsoft.



I paid $200+ for a fightstick. I am not less or more valid than those who use the controller from the box.

Use whatever the hell you want as long as you can afford it, it’s allowed to be used in the game you’re playing, and aren’t lording it over other people.


No, because of the entire accessibility issue.

I kind of hate that it’s assumed that everyone using the same controller is on the same playing field, when not everyone can use every controller. I will always come down on the side of customizable or modifiable game controllers if it means more people can physically have access to being able to play a game.

This is another reason why I’m not super into fighting games (besides being terrible at them).


Thanks all for the input and responses. For most of the games I play online, I’d only put myself in the ‘average - good’ camp, so I suppose I may have been worrying a litte too much to begin with. And by some of the responses, it also seems like I could have been overestimating how much of an “advantage” a controller like this could actually give. The accessibility angle that @Blindside brought up is an interesting take as well. All said, I’m pleasantly surprised it appears everyone’s in agreement that this isn’t much of an issue, if one at all.


Whatever is fun and comfortable/usable for you. Stressing about whether the hardware you’re playing on makes it “unfair” or feeling guilty for having it seems against the idea of games being a fun experience entirely.


I want to try to take the moral contention here seriously, because it feels too easy to say “play the gaem how you want to play it”. Of course you should play the way that feels the best. Clearly this doesn’t make you feel the best, so let’s figure out why.

A better controller gives you a leg up in twitch gaems, but what kind of leg?
It’s not better information, so it’s not like a higher-res TV or a faster console.
It’s not strictly a reaction time boost, so it’s not like a better network.
The controller only reduces the chance you’ll fuck up a motion, and the only thing that’s really comparable to is a worse controller. What else makes you fuck up a motion? Clunky input design, lack of practice, and age. None of those three are things we’d rather have influencing play. What’s more: there’s a pretty hard ceiling on how much reducing this kind of error improves your gaem. Even fast gaems are largely about decision-making and if you make a bad call your perfectly executed bad plan will still get you mowed down. We’re talking about error rates, not force multipliers.

If Sonic, Michaelsoft and the rest could have profitably bundled better controllers with their consoles, they would have done it. They don’t want a level playing field: they want the best playing field. Compare the quality of a modern controller to its predecessors. They’re trying to close this gap between intention and action.

You’re feeling bad about having money others don’t have to spend on this hobby. This is respectable conscientiousness, but a better controller is reducing frustration rather than giving you a serious advantage. I play PUBG on PC and stand two feet from a 43-inch TV to play it–that extra screen real estate is an unfair advantage (offset by my unfair disadvantage of having dogshit reflexes). Holding a higher quality piece of equipment also improves your experience without taking away from others, so I’d say you’re probably in the clear. Just don’t brag about it too much.


Thanks for the response! I do wanna push back a little bit about it being only about money though. I do think I’d still feel similar if the controller in question was the same price or close enough to a standard controller, but I do understand and recognize that it is mainly this cost difference (I assume) that’s the primary reason most people don’t have/want one.

Interestingly, I do have a PS4 Pro and don’t feel guilty at all about having that…Maybe the benefits the Pro offers aren’t as easily apparent to most eyes (or at least me for instance, who isn’t able to notice framerate differences unless they’re quite drastic), as opposed to something like a fancy-looking controller with extra buttons and customizable inputs?

Anyway, it does help me a bit to think about the number of other things that could give an advantage (console performance, internet speed, TV size, etc.). So in a way, it may not really even be possible to have a ‘level’ playing field.


If I had the money, I’d already have a Nacon Revolution Pro or a Hori Onyx, just to stop the hand cramps Dual Shock pads give me. PS4 pads aren’t as bad, but it still happens. Just moving the sticks helps so so much.


Using a Pro Controller is only like using a Fightstick or Steering Wheel, it’s just a better tool for the job. It’s not cheating or giving you an unfair advantage


In my experience, these controllers are more of luxury accessories than some kind of “performance enhancing” hardware. You’ll probably pick this controller up and continue playing games more or less as well as you were doing before. So, from a fairness perspective, I don’t think you’ve got anything to feel bad about. I’d be more concerned with whether you think this purchase is actually worth the money.


Two things; the advantage of paddles is that they allow you to press buttons without taking your thumbs off the sticks. You can achieve the same effect by practicing claw grip and various other contortions, so honestly compared to another person with no input issues a set of paddles isn’t exactly game changing, but it is nice.

The other thing which swung it for me was; so many games use R3 to trigger sprint, and my original controller wore out that input pretty quickly. As I was going to have to spend £45 to get a new one, which might have the exact same issue in another three months, it seemed valid to spend more to get something with appreciably better input options. I wish I’d spent a bit more to get the option to re-map the paddles, but in the scheme of things I’m happy with mine and its lasted almost a year with no issues