The lights are on
As we reported on Wednesday, Valve has developed a controller intended for use with SteamOS (and Steam on other platforms) and the Steam Machines coming in 2014. The Steam Controller isn't exactly like a console controller, though.
Instead of thumbsticks, the Steam Controller features track pads. There is a touchscreen in the middle, and the four buttons found on standard gamepads (Xbox 360 controller and DualShock 3) are placed around the trackpad.
Valve's selling proposition is that the Steam controller is designed to work with the entire Steam library, even those games that don't support gamepads. It accomplishes this by including a legacy mode that mimics keyboard and mouse functionality. Valve claims the fidelity approaches that of a high-end gaming mouse.
The Steam Controller also contains more sensitive and nuanced haptic feedback (rumble). The controller is fully "hackable," though, which means that users will be able to configure the hardware and the keybindings (and share them) however they please. Selection for the Steam Controller beta will be handled via the same process as the Steam Machines beta.
Our TakeThis week has seen a trio of related announcements that herald Valve's push to bring PC gaming into the living room. An operating system, a variety of hardware configurations, and now a controller that Valve believes is better suited for the PC than Microsoft's Xbox 360 gamepad (a favorite of many) could be a powerful combination, but we won't know for sure until next year.
This week has felt more like a series of teasers than anything substantial. There are no screenshots or mockups of SteamOS as an interface and no idea of how even the prototype Steam Machines are configured. The controller, while possibly better suited to titles that aren't playable with traditional controllers doesn't look comfortable or feasible for precision-based shooters. A lack of elevated thumbsticks seems like it would decrease precision.
I'm interested in trying this controller for myself, but I think there is going to be a lot of skepticism until gamers try it out. Moving the buttons around is going to mean relearning muscle memory, and the track pads need to be markedly better than the other flat-surface control mechanisms we've come to loathe for precision gaming (tablets and phones).
Until there is some evidence that developers are jumping aboard the SteamOS train, the operating system remains best conceptualized as a streaming box that requires another PC (or Mac) for content. I'm not convinced that SteamOS fills a need or solves an existing problem. I'm also not certain why developers would invest in a Linux/SteamOS version of a game that is simply going to be free via SteamPlay and garner no substantial funds.
As for the Steam Controller, I'm not sure that anyone is going to choose to play an RTS on this rather than with a mouse and keyboard. Traditional PC shooter fans likely won't abandon their control scheme of choice for this. I'm really not sure who this controller is for yet.
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I think I'll stick with KB and M or a controller thank you very much!
I can't really see the picture. Is it supposed to be dark? I seems weird, though.
Yeah, what about L3/R3? Is the input even analog, or is it digital? Do you have to start touching their exact centers for the pads to work? If not, the center could really be too close to the edge to work correctly? Am I supposed to play CS source with this? Or Civilization V? Or Morrowind? Or...
I wish they had made a non-touchpad one, touchpad controllers for gaming have always been weird for me, and if you removed your finger it's weird to get it to go back wo a position you started from. Maybe it's just me, but we'll see I'm intirgued though I must say.
Aaaaaand just like that, my curiosity about Steam Box has disappeared. Why Gabe? Why punish us so?
The touchpad based controls doesn't seem very serviceable. Every tried playing a shooter or any other game with your touchpad? Things feel off, its like using a mouse on a rubberised surface, very hard to move around and does not feel natural.
Eh.. back to my ps3.
Does this even qualify as a controller? WTF.
I really want to see someone play DOTA 2 on it. Or any MOBA, for that matter...they're the only paradigm I'm not comfortable using a gamepad with
I'm confused by the layout. The placement of the buttons seems awkward to me and I don't understand why they would use track pads instead of thumbsticks. It'll feel like playing a touchscreen game where the thumbsticks aren't really there and I've never enjoyed any of those games.
Anybody remember the Turbo Touch gamepad for the Super NES? It sucked. Hopefully Valve can pull off some magic with this... thing. I'll wait for a demo to show up at [generic retailer name here] before I write it off, but I'm not sure I'll spend money on these shenanigans.
Abomination was the first the thing that came to my mind after seeing the controller.
HAHAHAHAHA what a flippin joke. I expected more from this company. I'd rather play a game with Kinect than this thing. Valve here is an idea finish Half Life 3.