Here’s a plot twist that we didn’t see coming – the classic Nintendo Switch Online exclusive controllers can now be used on Steam.
Nintendo Switch Online subscribers can purchase wireless retro controllers from the Nintendo Store. Until now, they could only be used on the Nintendo Switch because they were tailor-made for use with the subscription service’s various retro libraries.
However, in the last Steam client update notes (opens in new tab), Valve confirms that “Support for classic Nintendo Online controllers” has been added. The patch note with weird words didn’t stay that way for long. A spokesperson for Valve confirmed On the edge (opens in new tab) that all these pads – NES, SNES, N64 and Sega Genesis / Mega Drive – are supported.
Good luck getting these controllers
Unfortunately, buying Nintendo’s classic pads is not a trip to the Mushroom Kingdom. To be eligible, you must first be a Nintendo Switch Online subscriber. This has been the case since the release of the classic NES pad in 2018.
Even if you’re already a subscriber, these retro controllers aren’t easy to find. They are usually out of stock and restocks usually don’t last long. Now, you’re in luck. Nintendo has the NES controller in stock (opens in new tab) and the Pad SNES is also available (opens in new tab) at the time of writing.
If you want an N64 or Genesis controller, however, you’ll have to wait for more stock to arrive. controller page (opens in new tab) to keep tabs on them.
What’s the point of using these pads on Steam?
Of course, Nintendo’s selection of classic controllers is a little lacking in the buttons department. You probably won’t beat Elden Ring with an SNES pad, for example (although the challenge is there if you choose to accept it).
However, it is a new addition to Steam. And it can be beneficial if you own any number of classic game builds. The Mega Man X Legacy collection comes to mind here. Or the just-released Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium, which features a ton of games with simple control layouts.
Nintendo’s classic controller support is also a potential win for Steam Deck users. Valve’s handheld console eventually became an emulation powerhouse. You can connect these classic pads wirelessly or via USB and essentially turn your Deck into a portable retro machine.
Granted, support for these classic controllers on Steam is unlikely to be embraced by everyone. Not just because of their scarce availability, but also because of how impractical they will be for most of the best games on Steam. Still, we’re not going to criticize Valve for expanding their list of compatible controllers, and the novelty factor is always welcome.