Configure Half-Life 2 to use Madcatz Panther XL Joystick

Posted Jan 9, 2005
Last Updated Nov 8, 2011

Many PC gamers play first-person shooters with a keyboard and mouse. While I can usually hold my own with that setup, my favorite is using a joystick. Of course, I don’t like just any joystick… I insist on one with a stick and a trackball… and my favorite is the Madcatz Panther XL. I have three at home.

I’ve used the Panther XL for five years now… and I’m sad to say that (as far as I know), it is no longer being produced. So getting support for it is sometimes problematic. When I moved over to Windows XP I had problems getting the Madcatz to work. Luckily I found a site some time back with the XP drivers.

My all-time favorite game is, of course, Counter-Strike. I have used the Panther XL very successfully with the game. But, when the game moved over to the Steam platform, it took me a while to use my Panther… you have to place your joystick.cfg in the Steam "cstrike” folder.

Now I picked up Half-Life 2 and Steam seems to have changed its structure again. Now you must place the settings for your joystick.cfg file into a new file called "userconfig.cfg” inside a "cfg” folder for each mod you’re playing.

For example, I had to rename my joystick.cfg file userconfig.cfg and placed it into the following directory.

C:Program Files/Valve/Steam/SteamApps/MySteamUsername/ half-life2/hl2/cfg

Doing this made it so that I could use my Panther with Half-Life 2.


  1. On two separate computers, I sometimes have to unplug and then plug in my Panther after Windows is running to get Windows to use the Panther.
  2. If Half-Life 2 does not automatically use your joystick, you may have to open Half-Life options in the game console and check the Joystick option.
  3. If Half-Life 2 still does not run your Panther, you may have to click the "~” to open the advanced console and type "exec userconfig.cfg” to make Half-Life 2 run your joystick settings.

Download all the files I know needed to use the Panther XL on Windows XP and play Half-Life 2. Thanks to Clan Assassin 3D for their resources on the Panther XL.

2011-11-08 This article has lost its value over time, as the number of Panther XL units must be dwindling every day. It was a great controller in its day. I personally stopped using a joystick with games after my son convinced me to give a keyboard and mouse a try. At first it was very awkward... but in time I found it better for first-person shooters. Now my Panther XLs collect dust somewhere in the house.


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