GamePad fail on MacOS

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May 2nd – I’m happy to say that a super cheap pair (you get two) of USB gamepads from Amazon did the trick.

$ ./ DonkeyKong.v2.atr 
Using Atari800 config file: atari800-80.cfg
Created by Atari 800 Emulator, Version 3.1.0

joystick 0 found!
joystick 1 not found

Now I can enjoy games with sound and joystick on my Mac.

Original Post

Trying to enable a gamepad on my Mac (MBA 11) that will allow me to use it for the Atari800 emulated games I’ve been playing with using the Atari800 emulator.

First however I had to get OSX to recognize the controller and this turned out to be harder than expected. I had two controllers sitting around that should have worked and both failed to be useable in OSX 11.

The Steelseries Stratos and the Steam Controller both claim they can be used in OSX and should have worked, but neither ended up working.

Game controllers nogo


I downloaded their update app and pushed new firmware to the controller but even then while OSX would randomly see it in the BT pairing panel, and would attempt to pair each time after claiming it was paired it would then just drop to disconnected. I don’t blame just the Steelseries on this- BT in general is just a continual letdown. I’ve never had anything besides speakers ever work consistently or reliable in BT in OSX.

Screen Shot 2018 04 29 at 10 38 18 AM

Screen Shot 2018 04 29 at 10 39 01 AM
Updating the Strats had no effect on OSX ability to pair with it and recognize it as a controller.


The steam controller was also a letdown. It did work with Steam but wouldn’t configure as a controller for anything else. Worse it was detected by the Mac as a enhanced keyboard but there was no way to configure that either and no Pref Pane to setup or configure it. You have to use the actual Steam app, in BigBox mode to configure the controller. And while it was detected and would have worked for Steam games it didn’t work outside of Steam and so wasn’t useful.

Screen Shot 2018 04 29 at 11 06 41 AM

Screen Shot 2018 04 29 at 11 08 30 AM
The only way to update the SteamControllers firmware was to launch the Steam App and it did detect the outdated firmware and launch the updater automatically.

Screen Shot 2018 04 29 at 11 11 02 AM
Configuration Panel in SteamApp BigBox mode.

Next Steps

For now I’ve ordered some cheap $15 dollar USB retro game controllers from Amazon that claim to work with OSX and Windows. When they arrive I’ll see if I can get them to work with the Atari800 emulator.

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