Steamworks Documentation
Input Sources
An "input source" is a region of the controller that can be thought of as a larger modular unit. This refers to a physical region of the controller rather than a virtual or abstract input mode.

This section provides a detailed breakdown of the different kinds of input sources known to the configurator, see Input Sources in the "General Concepts" page for a high-level overview.



Trackpads are available on the Steam Controller and the PlayStation 4 Controller. The Steam Controller has left and right circular trackpads, whereas the PlayStation 4 controller features a single rectangular trackpad in the center. The Steam Input configurator can treat the PlayStation 4 controller's trackpad as one single trackpad ("Center Trackpad") or split it into two ("Left Trackpad" and "Right Trackpad"). The Steam Controller's trackpads feature haptic feedback whereas the PlayStation 4 controllers do not.

  • Left Trackpad
  • Right Trackpad
  • Center Trackpad

  • The touch surface itself (analog)
  • Clicking the surface (digital)



Joysticks are available on virtually all modern controllers. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox controllers all feature twin sticks, but the Steam Controller only has one, which is considered the "Left Joystick" in this case. The PlayStation 4, Xbox, and Steam controllers all feature "clickable sticks", that is, an extra digital button that sits underneath the joystick assembly itself.

  • Left Joystick
  • Right Joystick

  • The joystick itself (analog)
  • Clicking the stick in (digital)

Button Pad


The button pad is simply a collection of four digital "face buttons" arranged together in a group, usually in a diamond pattern. In the Xinput standard, these are A, B, X, and Y. On PlayStation, these are Square, Triangle, Cross, and Circle. The labels of these buttons are perhaps the single most inconsistent feature across controller designs.

Any or all of the buttons can be pressed independently, but given that they are typically operated with a single thumb, the usual expectation is that no more than two buttons will be pressed together at any given time. Most typically, such button pairs are aligned on the same diagonal axis (X and A, Y and B).

  • "South" button (e.g. A)
  • "East" button (e.g. B)
  • "West" button (e.g. X)
  • "North" button (e.g. Y)



The Dpad, or digital pad, is a single physical input that houses four discrete digital inputs corresponding to the four cardinal directions. Unlike the button pad, the digital pad is physically constructed in such a way that only one directional input may be pressed for any given axis (it is impossible to press North and South simultaneously, but North and West is okay).

  • South
  • East
  • West
  • North



An analog trigger is a single-axis input typically located on the back of the controller, and sensitive to various degrees of pulling. All four major controller models feature exactly two analog triggers.

  • Left Trigger
  • Right Trigger

  • Analog pull
  • Digital click*

*Of the four major supported controller models, only the Steam Controller supports a discrete digital "click" at the end of a full pull. However, the player can set a threshold in the Steam Input Configurator to emulate this behavior for all other controller models.



The Steam Controller, PlayStation 4 controller and the recently added PS5 (DualSense) feature internal gyroscopes which allow for motion controls, aim assist, etc. The Xbox controllers have no gyro support.


The "Switch" input source is a catch-all for all the physical inputs that don't belong to another group. All of its sub-inputs are simple digital buttons.

  • Back button
  • Start button
  • Left Shoulder button
  • Right Shoulder button
  • Left Grip paddle
  • Right Grip paddle

Further reading