A quick guide to 'console-style' couch gaming based on my setup!

mitxlove

Average Stuffer
Original poster
Jan 7, 2016
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I wrote this on my blog but I figured maybe it'll be helpful for someone on this forum! Let me know what you think about it, would love to discuss better alternatives and whatnot!

Convert your setup to game on your PC like if it was a console, only better!

note: this is a quick guide on setting up your PC for couch gaming mostly based off of what I did with my setup!
Update: 5/12/17 - Added an 'alternatives' list to the the end of each section

My setup:



Why a console-like couch gaming setup?

I wanted to achieve a 'console-style' couch gaming experience because I wanted a little versatility when it came to how I spend my time gaming, I don't always want to sit at my desk as sometimes I want to just hang out with the girlfriend on the couch, or do a little multiplayer/split screen gaming when guests come over. It also just feels plain badass playing at ultra settings, at 60 FPS on a 50in TV. I also did not want to spend money on a console and a different game library.

Disclaimer:

As you can see, my Desk and TV are quite close to each other, which made setting up for couch gaming quite simple. If your PC and your TV are not in the same room, this guide may not be for you. Also, this guide focuses on the use of a controller, so keyboard/mouse dependent games like League of Legends or MMO's are not really supported in this kind of setup, so if you mostly play games like this, again, this guide might not be for you. However, I have included a few alternative options for those that have a different setup in mind.

There are three basic components to a couch gaming setup:

1. An HDMI cable - $10-$15

Alternatives - Steam Link, Nvidia Shield

2. An Xbox One controller + Wireless adapter - $25 (adapter) - $65 (combo)

Alternatives - PS4 controller + adapter, Steam controller + adapter, Steelseries controller, Mouse + keyboard lapboard (Razer Turret, Corsair Lapdog, etc.)

3. Controller Companion software - $3

Alternatives - wireless keyboard/mouse, Gopher 360 free software, Steam controller, Steam OS or strictly Steam Big Picture

total price range = $38 - $83 (for my setup)

1. HDMI cable (or DisplayPort) - HDMI and DisplayPort cables have become very cheap as of recent years and this is why I went with a "wired" choice for my setup. I bought a 15ft HDMI cable that cost me just over $10 on Amazon Prime, and there is similar pricing for DisplayPort cables!

I ran the cable from my PC, down the leg of my desk, into the nook between where the carpet and the wooden wall liner meet, to behind the TV stand, and into to TV. This process did not take me very long, but did require a few cable management skills and a bit of 'elbow grease'. I suggest that you try to hide cable like I did as hiding the cable looks great of course and creates a feeling of having a 'wireless' setup that can impress unknowing guests.

2. Xbox One Controller + Wireless USB adapter (or just the adapter if you already have an Xbox One controller) - First off, I'd like to point out that more and more games (mostly Triple A titles, but quite a few indie games as well) are including full controller support on PC. Many are also supporting local/split screen multiplayer; Rocket League, Black Ops 3, and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 are a few titles that come to mind that you can play with a friend at home. Personally, around 3/4 of my game library supports play with controller and I tend to mostly play single player and/or casual games while on the couch, which is why I did not make any attempt at having a keyboard and mouse combo in this setup. As for navigating through Windows without a mouse or keyboard, don't worry, I'll be explaining my solution for that a little further down! Before we get there however...

Let's face it, cables are kind of ugly (unless of course, we're talking custom PSU cables) and the last thing you want when you're trying to do some 'modern' couch gaming is to have to run an annoyingly long micro USB cable from your PC all the way to the controller at the couch! After all, you may have children or other guests that may trip over the cable, and it just looks bad.

This is where the Xbox One wireless adapter is a blessing! It connects to your PC via USB, and wirelessly connects your controller to your PC exactly in the fashion that a wireless controller connects to a console. The adapter can support up to 8 controllers, it remember the controllers so you don't have to 'connect' them every time you turn on your PC, and in my months of ownership, I have not experienced much, if any, input lag at all. I smoke fools at battlefield 1 and Black Ops 3 with it just fine.

I chose an Xbox One controller because I assumed that it would integrate well and be fully supported by Windows, as opposed to a PS4 controller which has no ties to Microsoft at all. While I believe I was right in my reasons for choosing the Xbox One controller, I have a friend that uses his PS4 controller on his PC and so far it seems as though the controller is accepted and supported pretty easily by Windows 10, although I am not 100% sure whether he uses some sort of third party software for it. I recently found out that PS4 controllers now also have an available wireless USB adapter as well, so your PS4 controller may make a good option! Of course a Steam controller should be considered as well.





So if you've followed in my footsteps and went and got yourself a long HDMI cable, and a wireless adapter for your controller, you've probably switched the desktop image over to the TV, and are sitting on the couch with a controller in hand! Congrats! But oh no, you forgot to turn on Big Picture mode on Steam, and now you have to get your butt up and walk all the way back to your desk and open it up with your mouse. This next component is crucial for that true "never get up except to pee and refill snacks" couch gaming...

3. Controller Companion (Steam) - I actually just found out about this little software a few months ago and oh my has it dialed my couch gaming experience up to 11! Essentially, Controller Companion is an inexpensive ($3) app/software available for purchase on Steam that allows you to use your Xbox One controller (maybe PS4 as well, need to check..) as a mouse on Windows. It's functions include just about everything you can do with a traditional mouse. The software allows you to customize your preferences, including the option to open the software automatically on startup, and to turn off the controller function at any time. From what I can tell the software runs independent of Steam and therefore does not need Steam to be open in order to work.

A few points to note about the software:

-You can boot up your PC from sleep mode by pressing the Xbox home button on your controller, the software will automatically turn on and you can log into your desktop with the controller.

-It has an auto turn-off function when you enter a game, but it doesn't always work (I've noticed it happens mostly with Ubisoft games), in which case the solution is to hold the back button and press start, this will turn off the mouse function and you can play your game like normal.

-Because of its mouse functions, you can easily switch from playing a game, to watching Youtube, or surfing the web, adding a load of multimedia experiences to your couch gaming.

-The keyboard scroll wheel function takes some getting used to, but after some practice you can actually 'type' quite efficiently. This software and controller combo may make a good option for those looking for peripherals for an HTPC.


Once you have all of these 3 components, it's super simple to just turn on your PC, turn on the TV, and plop down on the couch! With the help of the controller companion software, you can use your controller to switch the display over from the desktop monitor to the TV, and you can choose to navigate through your game library either on normal desktop mode, or through Steam's Big Picture mode for a more 'gamer-like' experience.

Hopefully you guys find this article helpful and inspiring when it comes to setting up your living room/couch gaming experience! Let me know your thoughts and ideas about this topic! I would love to hear about your methods and solutions to PC gaming on the couch!
 

Kmpkt

Innovation through Miniaturization
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Feb 1, 2016
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Your boxed action figures make me think of the 40 Year Old Virgin. Nice guide BTW ; )
 
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K888D

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Feb 23, 2016
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Great article, I'm a big fan of living room gaming!

You may have already considered and dismissed it, but the Steam Controller is actually a pretty good alternative for controlling your PC from the couch. When steam is running in the background the controller can be used as a fully functional mouse without the need for any extra software, the touchpads are actually really accurate and responsive for moving the cursor around, they work very much like a touchpad on a laptop making it very easy to control your PC.

The downside to the controller is the touchpads can be difficult to master when playing certain types of games such as fast paced FPS shooters, some people actually prefer using the touchpads compared to traditional dual stick controllers, but I think they are still in the minority. Where the Steam controller comes into its own though is playing games that are more suited to using a traditional mouse, such as RTS games, you get much better control using a touchpad compared to tilting a stick around.
 

mitxlove

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Original poster
Jan 7, 2016
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Your boxed action figures make me think of the 40 Year Old Virgin. Nice guide BTW ; )

LMAO well in this case its the 25 year old non-virgin :D but yeah I 'm a bit of a geek with action figures and other collectibles lol thank you!

Great article, I'm a big fan of living room gaming!

You may have already considered and dismissed it, but the Steam Controller is actually a pretty good alternative for controlling your PC from the couch. When steam is running in the background the controller can be used as a fully functional mouse without the need for any extra software, the touchpads are actually really accurate and responsive for moving the cursor around, they work very much like a touchpad on a laptop making it very easy to control your PC.

The downside to the controller is the touchpads can be difficult to master when playing certain types of games such as fast paced FPS shooters, some people actually prefer using the touchpads compared to traditional dual stick controllers, but I think they are still in the minority. Where the Steam controller comes into its own though is playing games that are more suited to using a traditional mouse, such as RTS games, you get much better control using a touchpad compared to tilting a stick around.

I put it under the 'alternatives' section lol I don't have much experience with it but I did read it was a pretty capable couch gaming tool! Good to know that it can navigate through Windows, thanks for that info! I have been curious to give that controller a shot but I don't necesarilly have the need unless I wanna try to learn to play League Of Legends with it...hmmmm

Anyways glad you liked the article!
 

fminus

Cable-Tie Ninja
May 14, 2016
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Ah there is so much you missed on the software level!

I just went through a similar process, and here are some of my recommendations:
I boot directly into Steam BPM , as it's the easiest way to create a seamless setup.

Elegant way to change your windows shell:

If you own the professional edition of Windows, you can also use the Group Policy Editor for this:

1) Type gpedit.msc in RUN or Start Menu search box and press Enter
2) Go to "User Configuration"
3) Go to "Administrative Templates"
4) Go to "System"
5) Go to "Custom User Interface"
6) Set "Enabled" and enter the full path to your executable in the text input field.
7) Press OK

Blizzard games and Battle.net launcher here.
For Origin games I followed the guide here.
Remote management with TightVNC
Netflix.

If you install TightVNC first, you can do all your game installs remotely. No need for a keyboard and mouse after the initial setup.
 

3lfk1ng

King of Cable Management
Editorial Staff
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Jun 3, 2016
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Just as a note, the 2nd gen PS4 controllers (just $50) works natively with Windows and Steam (only 1st gen controller requires dongle).
As long as your computer has Bluetooth, no additional adapters or dongles are necessary.

Also, the 1st gen controller apparently won't function while charging on Windows.
The 2nd gen controller can be used wired/wireless without this issue.

The PS4 controller also has a built-in gyro and a touchpad so it offers a lot of the same advanced functionality that the Steam controller offers (and Steam recognizes them).

DS4 Windows is a FREE tool that allows the controllers trackpad to control the mouse in Windows 10.

Also, I highly recommend using Launchbox as your frontend.
 
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mitxlove

Average Stuffer
Original poster
Jan 7, 2016
62
40
Ah there is so much you missed on the software level!

I just went through a similar process, and here are some of my recommendations:
I boot directly into Steam BPM , as it's the easiest way to create a seamless setup.

Elegant way to change your windows shell:



Blizzard games and Battle.net launcher here.
For Origin games I followed the guide here.
Remote management with TightVNC
Netflix.

If you install TightVNC first, you can do all your game installs remotely. No need for a keyboard and mouse after the initial setup.

Thanks for the info, this would definitely make a great Steam Machine/console setup! I didn't think it through this route as I also use my PC for work at my desk so I don't mind booting to the desktop first, but if I were to setup my PC just at the TV to be a full time couch gamer, I would definitely go this route!

Just as a note, the 2nd gen PS4 controllers (just $50) works natively with Windows and Steam (only 1st gen controller requires dongle).
As long as your computer has Bluetooth, no additional adapters or dongles are necessary.

Also, the 1st gen controller apparently won't function while charging on Windows.
The 2nd gen controller can be used wired/wireless without this issue.

The PS4 controller also has a built-in gyro and a touchpad so it offers a lot of the same advanced functionality that the Steam controller offers (and Steam recognizes them).

DS4 Windows is a FREE tool that allows the controllers trackpad to control the mouse in Windows 10.

Also, I highly recommend using Launchbox as your frontend.

Now I see why my friends controller works easily with his setup, he must have the 2nd gen then! I have heard faintly of the DS4 tool, I will add it to the list of alternative softwares! Although I think I read that controller companion also works for ps4 controllers but hey its free right? lol

Launchbox is great from what I hear, I've thought about using it but then I found out you can add non-steam games in your Steam library page so I just use my Steam as my universal launcher, I may add this to the list as well tho! thanks for the info!