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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Introducing.... Valve's wii-mote!
Ooh boy, I think they flew a little too close to the sun on this one.
i really don't care.
it looks like it's built for people with inverted thumbs, or claws.
I think its pretty rad take on a controller. much better than what the wii tried when it came to changing the basic layout. To be honest most games don't utilize the face buttons like they used to so I don't see it really being a huge issue. Also having two face buttons per thumb I think makes perfect sense. I really wanna give it a try though... than I can really be sure if its a ya or ney
Wow...weird. I'd like to try it out IRL though. Don't judge it till it's in your hands people. Built in custom key binds is HUGE tho. Consoles are WAY behind in custom control settings
That controller looks ugly as hell. Is it functional? Time will tell, but it already loses on aesthetics in my book haha.
Wow. That... looks like a weird controller.
looks great but the button layout in the center instead of on the side of the right, no thanks...
Very interesting. the lack of face buttons to one side is the only thing i'd question at this point.
This design is intriguing. I'm not loving it so far, but would enjoy getting my hands on it. It is ugly, but functionality and being comfortable is much more important.
i feel like getting use to this controller would take some practice time
At the very least it will be an interesting experiment.
i love steam to death but i just dont know about the controller it has good ideas but i just dont know if i want to use it instead of an xbox one controller
I agree. Until I get to try it I remain skeptical. And I am highly disappointed by this whole week of announcements. I was hoping to hear about a steambox that competes with the consoles. Not a valve sticker or go on pcs.
There's no way to know what this thing could do until someone can hold it in their hands and report on it.
Even then, I'd have to try it for myself. I've tried playing several C&C games on Xbox. It just doesn't work with a controller. An RTS needs a mouse and keyboard, or else some whole other way of controlling units, a la Pikmin on Wii or something.
But what this looks like, at first blush, is a horrible set of compromises to get a headline - "Steam Controller Works With Entire Steam Library." And really? Using the buzzword "haptic" when it clearly is not haptic feedback?
I expected a little more from Valve.
I know im supposed to be reasonable and not judge the controller before i use it, but for the love of god, look at that monstrosity!
Good lord, the fact that they replaced the analog sticks with touch pads alone....
I couldn't have come up with a worse controller if i was having a fever dream.
Controller looks cool and if it plays well with all the games available on Steam than this will be a great investment for myself.
Uhm... I can't imagine how it must feel to use the track pads.
As with all things, I'm willing to reserve judgment. Until then, this thing just looks... well, strange. But that's just looks, the Nintendo 64 controller looked strange too but became one of my favorites.