Controller Isn't Working in the Game

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.

Table of contents

Parsec is passing the controller but the game won't use it
Parsec can't see the controller on the guest
Issues with Parsec not being elevated
Issues with the host on Windows Server
The host's controller drivers aren't working
Something is interfering with the host drivers


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 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.

Windows macOS Android Linux

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.

  • Wii U Pro Controller: WiinUSoft
  • Switch Pro Controller: Genuine ones should work out of the box. If you have issues with genuine or non genuine controllers, see BetterJoy
  • Wiimote: WiiUSoft or Wiimotehook
  • Gamecube: Mayflash adapters work in PC mode. For others, see Delfinovin


Issues with Parsec not being elevated

Parsec needs to run with system permissions to be able to use the Parsec Virtual USB controller driver. Learn how to make sure Parsec is running as system.


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 the controller driver. You may also notice Parsec creating non-functional controllers infinitely in a loop, and Device Manager showing lots of controllers with a yellow warning. If you have our Parsec VUSB Gamepad Driver Beta, you may instead notice it fail in Device Manager with Code 39.

To work around both of these issues, make sure you install the archived copy of the Xbox 360 controller drivers and the ViGEm controller drivers, then restart the machine. After installation is complete, check if the controller shows up in gamepad-tester following the instructions at the top of the article.


The host's controller drivers aren't working

In case you are also certain the controller is working correctly on the guest's computer, and everything else above appears correct, you can try reinstalling the Parsec controller drivers.

Issues on Computers tab

Reinstall Parsec, or, use the link in the Parsec host settings, under "Parsec Virtual USB Gamepads" to get the Parsec driver installer. After installation is complete, check if the controller shows up in gamepad-tester following the instructions at the top of the article. If you still have issues, you may want to reach out to our Discord, linked under the help icon in the Parsec application.

Issues on Arcade Beta

In case you have trouble with Arcade, try to get the ViGEmBus controller driver and remove the Parsec Virtual USB drivers with these steps, on the computer that is hosting the game:


  • Once done, press Windows + R
  • Type devmgmt.msc on the newly opened window
  • Press Enter


  • Under “Universal Serial Bus Controllers”, find Parsec Virtual USB Adapter
  • Right-click it, and select “Uninstall device”


  • On the newly opened window, select “Delete the driver software for this device.”
  • Click “Uninstall”


  • Restart your computer and try hosting again

When people join the stream, they should be able to press buttons on their controller and you’ll hear a USB connection sound indicating their controller was connected. If you still have issues with the controller, check gamepad-tester with the instructions further on top of this article.


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.