Game Controllers

Game controllers can enhance gameplay and increase people's immersion in a game. Supporting as many game controllers as possible gives people additional ways to enjoy interacting with your game or app.

Images of game controllers from SteelSeries, Xbox, and PlayStation.

Determine game controller requirements. If your game has advanced game mechanics that can’t be supported by the remote, you can require the use of a game controller. The App Store displays a "Game Controller Required" badge to help people identify such apps, and may warn people if they haven't paired a compatible game controller with their Mac.

Confirm required game controller connections at launch. People can open your game anytime, even when there’s no connected controller. If your app requires a game controller, check for its presence at launch and gracefully prompt people to connect one if necessary.

Help people understand the advantages of using a game controller with your app. If your app supports both the remote and game controllers, show people what they can do with a game controller that they can't do with the remote.

Test all supported input devices. Make sure menus and essential navigation work with any input devices your app supports so people don't need to keep switching devices as they use your app.

For developer guidance, see Game Controller.


Game controllers tend to offer similar sets of buttons arranged in various ergonomic ways. Here is one example.

Image of a SteelSeries game controller with callouts that indicate the locations of the controller's triggers, shoulder buttons, directional pad, and thumbsticks.

Support clickable thumbsticks when present. Some controllers include thumbsticks that people can click or hold down as well as rotate. These buttons — also known as L3 and R3 — typically let people modify the action that's enabled by rotating the thumbstick. For example, clicking or holding a left thumbstick that enables motion might let people move at a different speed; clicking or holding a right thumbstick that controls camera orientation might let people zoom in or "crouch." As you consider ways to support clickable thumbsticks, be guided by the behaviors that people expect in various game genres.

In general, prefer using the left thumbstick or D-pad button to move focus in the current screen. Typically, people don't expect to use the right thumbstick to perform focus navigation while in a game.

In general, avoid using triggers or shoulder buttons to perform UI navigation. Unless your game has a deeply nested UI that requires accelerated navigation, it's typically best to let people navigate by using the A and B buttons.

Customize onscreen instructions to match the connected game controller. Different controllers can use different colors or symbols to represent similar buttons. For example, on an Xbox controller, the B button is red; on an MFI controller, the same button is green. To avoid confusing people, refer to buttons using the connected controller's labeling scheme.