Fix Controller Detected but not Working in Game with 6 Tips

Check for compatibility and firmware issues to fix gamepad recognized but not working in games

by Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
Windows & Software Expert
Milan has been enthusiastic about technology ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. He's a PC enthusiast and he... read more
Reviewed by Vlad Turiceanu
Vlad Turiceanu
Vlad Turiceanu
Editor-in-Chief
Passionate about technology, Windows, and everything that has a power button, he spent most of his time developing new skills and learning more about the tech world. Coming... read more
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  • When your gamepad is recognized but not working, it is usually an issue related to broken drivers. 
  • If your gamepad is not working in games, make sure your computer drivers are not outdated.
  • Windows Troubleshooter is another tool that provides solutions for fixing pc gamepads.
  • Is the gamepad still not working? Make sure you have no ghosts or unknown or duplicate devices.
gamepad won’t work

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If your gamepad is recognized but not working in games, it’s bound to affect the whole gaming experience, which makes it imperative to identify and eliminate the underlying cause.

A gamepad makes for the ultimate immersive gaming experience, so when your gamepad is not working in games, the frustration is real.

Before you dismiss the issue as a hardware-related one or other underlying cause, try to connect it to another USB port or another computer. Also, check if a different gamepad is working on your computer.

If you’re still having trouble with your gamepad not working on Windows, here are tried solutions to help you navigate and resolve the issue.

Why is my controller connected but not working PC?

There are several reasons why the gamepad doesn’t work in games, the primary one being issues with the connection itself. Computers these days have both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports. So, you will have to verify if the controller supports the one you are plugging it into.

Another reason reported by users is that their controller doesn’t support XInput API. Older or cheaper models generally support DirectInput API, while games have now moved on to XInput API. So, it’s recommended that you verify compatibility before purchasing the controller.

Other issues include problems with the firmware or drivers installed for the controller.

But, remember, apart from compatibility issues, none of the underlying causes are severe enough and can be fixed in no time.

Moreover, here are some error variations that you may encounter, but nonetheless, fix with the solutions below:

  • USB gamepad not working in games – controller works but not in game
  • Controller connected but not working PC – your game controller is not connected correctly
  • Controller not working in Windows 11, 10
  • Controller detected but not working in Steam
  • Game not detecting controller
  • PS4, Xbox controller not working on PC

Without further ado, let’s just jump right in!

What do I do if my pc controller is not working in game?

1. Run Windows Troubleshooter

  1. Go to the Windows Search Bar, type Control Panel, and click on the relevant search result.
  2. Go to View by the option on the top right corner, and select Large icons.large icon to fix gamepad recognized but not working in games
  3. Select Troubleshooting.troubleshooting to fix gamepad recognized but not working in games
  4. Click the View all option on the left pane.view all to fix gamepad recognized but not working in games
  5. Chose Hardware and Devices, right-click on it, and select Run as Administrator.
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the troubleshooting process.

Running the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter should resolve the issue if you’re experiencing problems with a recently installed device or hardware on your computer.

The troubleshooter checks for commonly occurring issues and ensures any new device or hardware is correctly installed on your computer. Once done, check if the gamepad is recognized, but if it is not working problem in-game is resolved.

2. Reinstall USB drivers

  1. Right-click the Start button and select Device Manager.device manager to fix gamepad recognized but not working in games
  2. Find Universal Serial Bus controllers and double-click on them to expand the section.Universal serial bus controllers
  3. Right-click on the USB Composite device and Mass Storage device and select Uninstall device.uninstall to fix gamepad recognized but not working in games
  4. Click Uninstall in the confirmation prompt.uninstall
  5. Repeat for all other problematic devices.
  6. Reboot your computer.

Once you restart the computer, Windows will automatically reinstall USB controllers on your PC and run the devices properly.

You can use third-party software to update USB drivers automatically, and it will install the latest driver versions for your device.

The most valid method to perform this is using software with an extensive database of drivers that are safe to use and have been verified for malware. We recommend DriverFix as one of the most reliable driver updating software available on the market.

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3. Remove ghost devices

  1. Press Windows + S to open the Search menu, enter Device Manager in the text field, and click on the relevant search result.device manager
  2. Click on the View menu, and enable the Show hidden devices setting.show hidden devices to fix gamepad recognized but not working in games
  3. Now, expand Human Interface Devices, Sound, video and game controllers, and Universal Serial Bus controllers list, and look for lighter and more transparent devices.sections
  4. If any are found, right-click on them and select Uninstall device.uninstall device to fix gamepad recognized but not working in games
  5. Next, click on Uninstall in the confirmation box that pops up.uninstall
  6. Close Device Manager and reboot the computer.

Ghost devices are devices that are no longer attached to your PC. Windows kept a record of these devices, but the information was not removed when the device was unattached. And this often leads to conflicts.

After removing the devices, verify if the controller is now recognized and working in games on Windows.

4. Restart PC in Safe Mode

When you boot Windows into Safe Mode, it will load with limited files, services, and drivers. If the gamepad problem isn’t there while in Safe Mode, then your default settings and primary drivers are not contributing to the issue.

In this case, you should look for third-party app conflicts, compatibility issues, or duplication of devices.

5. Remove duplicate devices

Note icon
NOTE
Before executing the steps listed here, boot your computer into Safe Mode.
  1. Press Windows + R to open the Run command, enter devmgmt.msc, and click OK.devmgmt.msc
  2. Again, double-click on Human Interface Devices, Sound, video and game controllers, and Universal Serial Bus controllers to expand them.
  3. Now, locate all duplicate entries, right-click on them individually, and select Uninstall device.uninstall
  4. Confirm the same by clicking on Uninstall in the prompt.uninstall
  5. Close Device Manager and boot your computer normally (not Safe Mode).

While deleting the entries in the Device Manager, remove only the duplicate ones and not both. Once done, verify if the gamepad is recognized but not working in the problem of the game is resolved. If it’s still there, head to the last method.

6. Contact your gamepad device’s manufacturer

As a final resort, you can contact the gamepad’s manufacturer for more on how to resolve the issue. Any device manufacturer has a website where you can find contact options.

Usually, you can also find FAQs and knowledge base articles on the manufacturer’s website that may address the problem. If that doesn’t help, look for a live chat option or drop the support team an email.

How do I test my gamepad on Windows 10?

  1. Press Windows + R to open the Run command and enter joy.CPL in the text field, and click OK.joy.cpl
  2. Select the connected gamepad, and click on Properties.properties
  3. Head to the Test tab, and you can now follow the on-screen instructions to test the gamepad.test to fix gamepad recognized but not working in games

Windows offers a simple and effective built-in tool to test the gamepad in Windows 10 and 11. Besides, you could also use a website like Gamepad Tester for the purpose.

How do I detect a controller on my PC?

The process of enabling the controller for a game is different for each, though the basic idea remains the same. In most cases, you have to set up the controller, which should automatically work with all games on the platform, as with Steam.

Also, once you connect the controller to Windows 10, it should automatically work with the games unless there are other issues. Many users connect the PS4 controller to Windows, while others use Xbox One controllers on the computer for an enhanced gaming experience.

Let’s now find out what you should do if the gamepad is recognized but not working in games on your computer.

What can I do if a gamepad is recognized but not working in games on Windows 11?

If the gamepad is recognized but not working in games on Windows 11, identify when the problem was first seen on the computer. Then, uninstall any third-party apps added around the same period.

Also, the Power Management settings could be causing the problem. Head to the USB port’s properties in the Device Manager, and disable the Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power setting in the Power Management tab.

Power Management settings

And, of course, if nothing else works, there’s always the option to perform a system restore, or reset Windows 11 to its factory settings.

These are all the ways to solve gamepad issues on Windows and enjoy your gaming session without the OS or the controller throwing any errors.

Also, check the best controllers compatible with Windows, and enjoy the gameplay like it’s supposed to.

Let us know in the comments section whether these steps and solutions worked for you.

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