What Is A Gamepad? Parts, Types, Pricing, Explained!

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The majority of people’s favorite pastime has been playing video games. Gaming is a multibillion-dollar business that is only expected to become more prominent. Video gaming has evolved into a highly competitive industry with growing professionalism due to its ongoing popularity. It has been an evolving industry.

Almost every game has had franchises, and every time it does, its programs have improved–the graphics, the storyline, the design, etc. I used to have a PSP 2000 back then, and I played Tekken, GTA, The Sims, Harvest Moon, and so much more. My brother had one too, and he’s been obsessed with it since, years later, my parents decided to buy him a PS4.

That’s when I learned about gamepads. It was so easy to play on PSP, but PS4 is much more technical, although it felt nice. The experience was much better; seeing the whole gameplay on a giant television screen was the virtual experience that every gamer should feel. 

What Is A Gamepad?

A gamepad or joypad is an input device for consumer electronics like video game consoles, portable gaming consoles, mobile phones, or PCs. To control movement or activities in a game, gamers often utilize a controller with a set of buttons or keys on its face. Its buttons and keys on its face let gamers control movement and action in their games. This eliminates the need for a keyboard or mouse in order to play one’s favorite games.

To communicate with your device, an electrical signal is sent from the controller to your device when you push down on certain buttons with your fingers. And to enhance your gaming experience, this instructs your device on carrying out specific game-related tasks for you. For a beginner, it’s hard to handle a gamepad at first. Don’t be discouraged; once you get the hang of it, you will be addicted in no time.

How Do Gamepads Work?

A gamepad is a rather basic gadget when you think about it. It consists of two or four buttons and a directional pad. In some cases, it also has two analog sticks. So, how can this little gadget handle so many different games? The solution lies in the way gamepads operate. They connect with your computer or console via an input protocol, which is simply a fancy way of stating that they employ specific signals. When you press a button on the gamepad, a signal is sent to your system informing it of the action to be taken. This might range from just moving your character ahead to firing a weapon.

There are several input protocols available, but by far, the most prevalent is known as XInput. Microsoft created this exclusively for Xbox controllers, and practically all recent games support it.

History Of Gamepads

Gamepads started from arcade machines. They were used as an input device to control the on-screen action. Invented in 1966, they were initially called joysticks. However, these devices often cause hand and arm fatigue due to their small size and lack of ergonomic design features.

1972MagnavoxLaunched the first commercial gaming system with box-type controllers
1974AtariDeveloped the arcade game Pong, which was eventually marketed with at-home controllers
1977AtariReleased the Atari 2600, the first at-home one-button analog stick for their gaming console
1983NintendoLaunched the Family Computer, the first controller with a directional pad and four buttons (Select & Start, A & B)
1985NintendoLaunched the Nintendo Entertainment System with the same button that made a global impact
1988SegaIntroduced the Sega Mega Drive, the first gaming console with the gamepad design we still use today. Still, it only has three buttons other than the directional pad. 
1991GravisLaunched the first gamepad for PCs. 
1994SonyReleased the PlayStation, which had a directional pad, face buttons, and shoulder buttons.
1996NintedooReleased the Nintendo 64, the first gaming console with an analog stick in the gamepad. 
1998SonyLaunched the PlayStation (DualShock), which has the first gamepad with two analog sticks.
2001NintendoReleased GameCube, which has a new design for the buttons and analog sticks.
2001MicrosoftReleased the first Xbox
2005MicrosoftReleased the Xbox 360
2006NintendoLaunched Wii, the first motion-sensing gaming console with a one-hand-held gamepad.
2012NintendoLaunched Wii U, the first touchscreen gamepad.
2017NintendoLaunched the Nintendo Switch, the first handheld-console hybrid with detachable controllers.
2020SonyLaunched the PlayStation (DualSense), the first gamepad with interactive haptic feedback that you feel while you play

All Gamepad Manufacturers

Even though the invention and the growth of gamepads were mainly focused on gaming consoles, many companies have started to make gamepads for computers too. Even those gaming console companies have also made one for computers. Bonus, some gaming console gamepads are actually compatible with computers too (by using a USB cable and sometimes via Bluetooth adapters).

MicrosoftHas the best reliable gamepads
SonyHas the most impressive gamepads today
RazerHas the best gamepad with RGB
ScufHas the best alt-pad other than Microsoft and Sony
PowerAHas the best budget PC gamepads
LogitechHas the cheapest gamepad

Components And Parts Of A Gamepad

When you think of a gamepad, you typically see two analog sticks, four face buttons, and a directional pad. But there’s so much more to it! Modern gamepads now incorporate back and shoulder button triggers, action buttons, and various LEDs and sensors.

Membrane Switches/Microswitches

When a button is pushed, a pad at the button’s end (or beneath the silicone layer) creates a signal by completing a break in the trace. As a result of the fact that the switches are only used in two locations, namely the joysticks and the shoulder buttons when they are pushed, they produce a characteristic clicking sound.

Joysticks/Analog Sticks

Two rotary potentiometers, one each for the x and y axes, are linked to the joysticks or analog sticks. Potentiometer resistance changes as the stick is moved, causing a different voltage to be measured across each. These voltages are calibrated to produce a value for the joystick position. However, not all gamepads are equipped with this feature; like Hall Effect sensors, it features magnets at the base of the joysticks.

Directional Pad

This is usually found on the left side of the gamepad, which looks like a plus sign. It consists of the up, down, left, and right buttons. The directional pad is also called the D-pad. From the word itself, directional, the pad helps you manage the gameplay in your desired direction.

Face buttons

The face buttons are also known as AXBY or the cross, square, triangle, and circle buttons. They have a much different function than the D-pad. It has various functions depending on the console and the game itself. For example, the cross button is mainly used for selecting, and the circle is for canceling or back button. While the other two buttons would vary depending on the game.

Shoulder buttons

The shoulder buttons are the four buttons at the top of the gamepad. Primarily used for triggers and can be used in combination with AXBY buttons for a particular action on gameplays.

How Much Does A Gamepad Cost?

There are many different types of gamepads on the market, and their costs differ considerably. A simple knockoff gamepad may be purchased for as low as $10, whereas a high-end device can cost 300 dollars at most. One of the reasons gaming consoles and gamepads are costly is because they feature technology that enables players to interact with games in novel ways. Motion sensors, touch pads, and triggers are included in this device. Manufacturers must pay for the expense of incorporating this hardware into their goods, which raises the price.

The license fees paid to video game companies are another aspect that adds to the cost of gamepads. These payments, which may be extremely expensive, enable manufacturers to integrate popular games with their gadgets. Finally, there are the expenses of research and development. Manufacturers of gamepads often spend considerably in R&D to develop fresh and unique goods that will set them apart from the competition. This investment has a cost, which is reflected in the price of gaming consoles and controllers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Wrap Up

To step up your game (literally), having gamepads is one of the best choices. Some veteran users of gaming consoles have been using their gamepads on PCs. And you should too. Well, I think that gamepads are an essential part of gaming. It would be entertaining to take your gaming experience to the next level. I just hope that this blog helped you with that. 

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Anna Bonilla
Anna Bonilla

Anna isn't just any ordinary Computer Hardware Expert, she's highly skilled and multi-talented. She's a graphic designer, a writer, and a social media expert. At ErrorBook, she helps her readers in understanding the purpose of different hardware components and also helps pick the best PC Parts for their money. She also loves babysitting her nephews, baking, and crafting coffee.

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