Microsoft’s Xbox One Drivers Are Costing Indie Developers Time And Money

Microsoft’s Xbox One Drivers Are Costing Indie Developers Time And Money

There’s no doubt that the Xbox One pad is a significant improvement on it’s older 360 variation, especially if you’re using it as a PC controller. But one Australia developer has pointed out that Microsoft has gotten pretty lazy when it comes to their driver support — and it’s costing developers time and money.

It’s an issue that cropped up in a negative Steam review for Assault Android Cactus, the twin-stick bullet hell shooter from Queensland developers Witch Beam. Given the nature of the game, controller support is pretty essential.

So when Sanatana Mishra spotted this review, he felt compelled to investigate — after all, the game only has 7 negative reviews out of 347 so far.

“I am unable to play with gamepad: the game detects two gamepads, and therefore makes me play with two characters instead of one,” user [Fr]Lysandar wrote. “The developers are not cooperative forum, and I find myself in a situation where you thought, ‘We did not have it in our tests, Microsoft is at fault (I have no problem in any other games) we certainly can do nothing.'”

Mishra tweeted this morning that the issue doesn’t exist in singleplayer games — because the second emulated pad doesn’t do anything — so the negative review exists solely because of a bug on Microsoft’s end.

Mishra’s solution: allow developers, or at least issue a patch, that would allow the Xbox One controller’s firmware to be updated so that the issue could be resolved. His frustration is understandable: Microsoft’s inaction forces developers like himself and his studio to find custom workarounds for something that could be rectified by Microsoft themselves.

Even if the workaround was difficult, it’s certainly much more feasible for a company with Microsoft’s size and scope than for small teams to find solutions. And considering Microsoft is pushing the ability to stream games from Xbox One to Windows 10, it’s likely that users will be using their Xbox One controller on their PC — where the same issue could potentially crop up.


  • I don’t understand what the issue is? I’m not saying there isn’t an issue, I’m just saying I don’t specifically understand what the bug is, and out of curiosity really want to know.
    Is it a case of you have one xbox controller connected, you open the game and press start, game seems to think you have 2 controllers connected and has 2 players join the game as though you are playing local multiplayer, but if you go into the singleplayer game, you can just ignore this and continue playing normally anyway?

    • There are sort of a few part to it., the first is that on some configurations of Windows 10 + XBox One control pads the control pad actually has two drivers installed and whenever an input is read by Windows it is read as two separate controllers pressing a button.

      In Cactus we register additional inputs on the character select screen as additional join commands, so as it stands right now anyone playing the game on this hardware configuration is incapable of playing properly because they will *always* be logging in as 2 players on their one control pad and making the game nearly impossible to play.

      Now this issue does not occur in our test cases on Windows 10 when the XBox One controller firmware has been updated to the latest version, and while this may not be the sole link (I’ll get to that in a minute) it isn’t something we can tell people to do on PC because Microsoft offers no method to update the XBox One controller outside of using an XBox One itself.

      Now the primary work around we have found is to disable one of the drivers in the computers device manager, however it appears to cause issues in other games as the remaining driver is not set up correctly (Which could be to do with controller firmware).

      Ideally Microsoft would allow PC users to update their firmware so that we can rule that out as causing any issues, and then also look in to the ‘phantom’ additional control pad driver.

      On our end we intend to solve the problem by offering a configuration option to either disable one controller type or limit the game to 1 player mode, we’re still looking in to the best solution.

      Meanwhile XBox 360 pads, Dual Shock 4 pads, and a variety of other control pads all just work by default, though running DS4Windows with the game can cause similar problems due to it making a Dual Shock 4 controller show up as both a regular Direct Input device and and a fake XInput device, that one is easily solved by just closing DS4Windows though as the game has native support for Dual Shock 4 control pads.

      • I’d heard previously about driver issues with XBONE controllers but the firmware problem is an interesting spanner in the works… so much for console parts offering a fixed configuration to avoid compatibility issues!

        • To be fair, it sounds like this problem doesn’t occur when the controller is used with a console: you plug it into an Xbox One, and the console ensures that the controller is running compatible firmware. The same doesn’t seem to happen with a PC.

  • I always think the gamepad has been pixellated to protect its identity every time I see a photo of the XB1 controller.

  • So is this only an issue for controllers with original firmware that hasn’t been updated? Mainly effecting users who don’t actually have an Xbox One but use the XB1 controller? The article is a bit confusing and makes it sound like the inability to update firmware from PC is the issue.

    • I did an interview with another one of the Witch Beam developers late last week about the difficulties of implementing DualShock 4 support natively on PC. The game’s been mentioned on the site, don’t worry!

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