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 like how there are buttons where the ring fingers go on the controller. That is a plus. I remain unsold about the positioning of the XYBA buttons. X and Y will become much less important to me due to using the left track pad. Only time will tell. I agree with GI that this week has been a week of previews. Announcing a product a little closer to completion could prevent a lot of head scratching for Valve.
I for one really like the design and first impressions of the controller. It's obvious Valve really invested a lot on research and testing its new handheld gear on all gaming genres available on PC. And if this impressive piece of hardware is what came out of it - then I'm definitely impressed. And even if some gamers don't like it and still prefer the traditional mouse and keyboard, I still believe Valve's daring move to invade the living room will push the competition to a more focused and quality driven direction to benefit it's customers - and that's always a good thing. Let's not forget guys that this is still a step forward for the industry as a whole. I'm not a PC gamer and I was planning to get a PS4 next year, but this has got me considering purchasing a steam box too.
Definitely not for me.
Where is the D-Pad???
will this thing work with a windows PC? if so, i'd just get one to try it out, keyboard and mouse is the way to go but if I want to play a game that doesn't support a controller and I want to lay in bed to play a game, i'd at least give this thing a shot, I hope it works better than it looks like it does.
It looks... eh. Then again, I really don't like the whole Steam Box in general.
The more I see of this Steam Console the more likely it seems to be a failure. Hasn't Valve been watching the trend in consoles? They've all moved toward the XBox 360 controller, Wii motion controls, and everything about this controller smacks in the face of that (not in a wildly original way either). Looking at that thing I might as well be playing my game on an iPad mini.
No way to tell til I get my hands on it. But, I don't see Valve putting out trash hardware, and if this works as advertised then it could be pretty awesome. Still, If it costs more than a console controller I fear I may never care enough to find out.
I think it's quite an interesting looking controller actually. I'm not twiddle thumbs on the thumb sticks of other controllers, so maybe that's why.
It would be interesting to try it out.
I want to get my hands on this thing! It looks so intriguing
That controller looks very confusing!
Time will tell whether or not this controller is able to accomplish the same things as a versatile keyboard.
These "announcements" are pathetic, every last one of them. Zero specifics on "Steambox" hardware, very little information on the OS, and now this?
The only announcement that I want to hear from Valve is Half Life 3, that's it. Hey Valve, remember when you used to make games?
F*&# you Valve, F*&# you.
I really don't like this controller at all, but I'll have to use it first to judge it. I'm not getting steam, though, so I won't have to worry nonetheless. ;)