Nothing destroys a killing spree like spilling Mountain Dew all over your controller and making it all sticky. Or maybe you've just used it too much and worn out the buttons and thumbsticks. Whatever the case, many gamepads are easily repaired. Here's how to open up your Xbox or PlayStation controller and fix its buttons.
Picture: Dominic Hallau
If your controller's just feeling a bit dirty and sticky, you can crack it open and use a little rubbing alcohol to clean them out. Alternatively, if you want to replace the buttons and sticks completely, you can order new parts and replace them in most controllers. If you want a little customisation, you can even order buttons and shells in different colours from sites like GamerModz, Evil Controllers or Amazon.
Xbox 360 and Xbox One Controllers
The Xbox 360 controller is very easy to repair or customise, because most of the parts are easily removable. If you want to replace the buttons or thumbsticks, you can just take apart the casing and pop them out. You can then clean them with rubbing alcohol or replace them completely. Note, however, that you can only remove the thumb grip on the joysticks. If you want to replace the trigger buttons or the actual stick mechanism, you'll need to desolder them as shown in this video. If you prefer a step-by-step guide with photos, this Instructable is pretty good (and was the inspiration for this post).
Xbox One controllers, unfortunately, are not as user-friendly. You can open it up and clean it out if need be, but if you want to replace the shell, sticks, or buttons, you'll need some soldering chops. The video above shows you what you need to do, but it's decidedly more difficult. The upcoming Xbox One Elite controller is supposed to be more moddable, however, and it comes out in October.
PlayStation 3 and 4 Controllers
The PlayStation3 controller is pretty moddable; you can replace the thumb pads, D-pad, and all the buttons. You can also replace the shell, if yours is damaged or if you want a new colour (just make sure yours is compatible -- there are a few different variations of the official PS3 controller out there). Taking it apart is quite easy; as shown in the video above.
The PlayStation 4 controller is a tad more complicated but still very doable. Like the PS3 controller, you can replace the buttons, triggers, thumb pads, D-pad, and even the battery (if you'd like longer battery life). Some people have even swapped in Xbox thumbstick pads. The video above shows replacing most buttons, while this video shows how to replace the triggers. Just be careful of the ribbon cables when you open it up.
We could list every gamepad in existence, but you get the idea -- a lot of these are much easier to take apart than you might think.