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Replacement controllers and alternatives to standard options

Console and PC gamers alike have access to dozens of different game controllers, offering an astonishing range of capabilities. Whether you're looking for replacement or additional controllers for a popular gaming console or want to take your gaming experience to a radical new level, you'll find lots to choose from. However, there are some basic research principles and features you should know about before you start shopping. This will help you find the ideal game controllers at the right price.

Features to Look For in Controllers

Here are six popular features you may want to look for in standard-type replacement console controllers:

  • Compatibility. Sure, you might have an Xbox now and you might think the only thing you need to worry about is Xbox compatibility. But what if you switch to a PlayStation? Will you need to get new controllers? Many replacement controllers have cross-system compatibility, but this is something you should carefully check into before you buy.
  • Connection technology. Wireless controllers are becoming the norm, and for good reason. They allow you more freedom to move, and they are less likely to suffer from technical problems when connecting with the game console. If you're going to go with a wired option, make sure the manufacturer is reputable and offers a warranty.
  • Layout. Some games and systems require their controllers to have specific types of action buttons, and some require more action buttons than others. Make sure that any controller you're considering has enough action buttons to play your favorite games, and that those action buttons are laid out in an intuitive, easy-to-use manner.
  • Ergonomics. Most gamers spend long hours enjoying their pastime, so you'll want to make sure the controller is comfortable to use and won't cause wrist or arm strains. Look for easy to reach action buttons and a layout that doesn't require you to stretch or reach very far to enter any type of command.
  • Multipurpose usability. Today, game controllers are capable of doing much more than controlling game input. They allow you to access the Internet, enable additional console features, and send messages to other players -- and even friends of yours in the "real world." Look carefully into a controller's additional capabilities if you require any of these functions.
  • Extra features. Some controllers are capable of doing unique things when triggered by an action in the game, such as rumbling or reacting to motion. If these features are part of your console's regular controllers and you need them to play certain games, then make sure that the replacement controllers you're considering offer all the extra features you need to enjoy your favorite games the way they were meant to be enjoyed.

Alternative Controller Types

If you're looking for specialized controllers, here are some of the other options you can consider:

  • Arcade-style joysticks. If you're nostalgic, you may just insist on these types of controllers, especially if you're playing old-school arcade games on a PC or cloud gaming device. These joysticks perfectly replicate the arcade experience of yesteryear, and some game purists believe that they are the only way certain titles are meant to be played.
  • Retro joysticks. Remember the joysticks used with early home computing systems? They featured a single, vertically oriented joystick with one or two action buttons. They're still around, and if you want to play retro PC games, a retro PC joystick is the perfect fit.
  • Boldly redesigned controllers. Some companies, such as Delta Six, are offering unique game controllers that are unlike anything else on the market. The company's assault rifle-style game controller has full action button functionality and adds realism to shooting games like nothing before or since.
Accessories for Consoles