This article covers potential reasons and troubleshooting steps for when someone cannot use their controller to move on a game through Parsec. If people are trying to use the mouse and keyboard, refer to the article about issues with the mouse and keyboard instead.
Parsec is passing the controller but the game won't use it
In some cases, Parsec will pass the controller as normal but the game won't use it. To check whether the problem is actually Parsec, instead of just the game, the person hosting the game needs to follow the instructions below.
- Open gamepad-tester.com on the host computer
- Do the following on the host, depending on where the game is being hosted:
- Arcade: Keep both the game and browser visible in the screen, and click on the game so that Parsec can send inputs to it
- Computers tab: If Parsec settings > Approved apps is enabled, approve your internet browser there so that Parsec can send inputs
- Ask the people who are connected to press a lot of buttons, then check if it shows on the website. Parsec only connects the controllers if guests press buttons on them
If the guest controllers do work on the website, it means Parsec is passing the controller correctly, and the rest is up to the game/emulator. Most emulators need you to configure the controllers in their settings, and some games require you to enable multiplayer somewhere, or configure it further.
Parsec's controllers are not special and just work as if an ordinary xbox controller was plugged on the host computer via USB. If you're confused about how to configure your game/emulator or whether the game has multiplayer, look it up online. Just keep in mind a few things:
- Some games don't detect controllers that got plugged in after the game was opened. If you're hosting your desktop using the Computers tab, try restarting the game to ensure this isn't the case. If you're hosting on Arcade, it isn't possible to restart the game because the Arcade session closes with it, so that game may not be playable on Arcade
- If the host is using the Computers tab and has Settings > Host > Virtual Gamepad Type set to Dualshock 4, that may not work well with the game you're trying. If you don't have a specific reason to use it, keep it as Xbox 360 and restart Parsec from the tray bar. Guests' controllers will still work correctly regardless of what controller they use
- If you've ever messed with Steam's controller settings, it may be preventing controllers from working on games added to Steam. Double-check your Steam settings if you recall making changes to it. You can also confirm this is an issue with the Steam configuration by trying to play something outside Steam
- If your game is not multiplayer, but you want to take turns with other people, keep in mind that not all games let both controllers move in the game whenever you want. You may want to reorder the controller position with this guide
If a guest controller isn't showing in the site at all, read the rest of this article for potential reasons.
Parsec can't see the controller on the guest
If you couldn't see the controller on the host with the instructions above, then the guests should disconnect from the host and go to Parsec's settings > Gamepad, which will list the controllers seen on the guest machine. If guests can see their controller working correctly in the settings, it means the issue is on the host machine.
However, if guests cannot see their controllers in their own settings when plugged in properly, here's what can be attempted depending on their operating system.
Most popular controllers work just fine, such as genuine Dualshock 4, Dualsense, Switch Pro, Joycon, and Xbox controllers. Gamecube controllers will work with a Mayflash adapter set to PC mode.
If the controller isn't showing in the settings, consider using a program to convert it to Xinput, the xbox controller API.
You should be able to use bluetooth Xbox, Dualshock 4 and Dualsense controllers, which are officially supported by Apple, as well as any other controllers that are supported by them. If you're having issues with controllers, generally try it both with bluetooth and USB cables.
Catalina or older
- Catalina and older does not recognize Xinput controllers, so you'll need this driver when trying an xbox controller. If the driver requests security permissions, you must approve them to get the controllers working
- Bluetooth controllers may not work properly. If in doubt, use it with a USB cable
- Dualshock 4 controllers should work out of the box (given you use it with a USB cable)
Controller support on Android is inconsistent due to the large amounts of phone makers offering different levels of compatibility. Your best bet is to update your gamepad firmware (e.g. there was a major firmware update for Xbox One controllers with Bluetooth that improved compatibility with Android). You may also have different results with an OTG cable instead of Bluetooth.
- Xbox controllers will need drivers. The best one we found is xboxdrv (sudo apt-get install xboxdrv)
- Bluetooth connection on Xbox One S controllers will need xpadneo
Controllers on Linux work via evdev, using kernel drivers already on your system. You will likely need a kernel driver to make your controller work, such as;
- xpad or xboxdrv for Xinput
- hid-sony for PS3/PS4
- hid-nintendo for Switch Pro and Joycons
- hid-playstation for DualSense (PS5)
The host's controller drivers aren't working
In case you are also certain things are working properly on the guest, the host can either reinstall Parsec or install the drivers directly from ViGEmBus' github releases, and restart the computer once installed. After restarting, check if the controller shows up in gamepad-tester following the instructions at the top of the article.
Issues with the host on Windows Server
If you’re using a cloud machine with Windows Server, it may lack the Xbox 360 controller drivers, which is needed in addition to ViGEmBus. You may also notice Parsec creating non-functional controllers infinitely in a loop, and Device Manager showing lots of controllers with a yellow warning.
Install the archived copy of the Xbox 360 controller drivers and restart the machine.
Something is interfering with the host drivers
Go to Device Manager (Press Windows key + R, type devmgmt.msc, press Enter), and check if you see something named "SCP Virtual Bus" in the System devices section. This is used for Dualshock 3 controllers, but it may conflict with our drivers. If you have it, try uninstalling it, restart the computer, and test if your issue is fixed.
There's also Zadig, which is commonly used for Gamecube controllers. It can potentially hide Parsec's xbox controllers and make it not show up at all depending on how it was set up. If you've used Zadig, revert any changes you've made with it and check if Parsec's controllers start to show up correctly.