3 Things Valve Should Fix For The Steam Box - Apozem Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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3 Things Valve Should Fix For The Steam Box

You're killing me, Valve. You guys have terrible timing. I write up a post about the tantalizing possibility of an official Valve-branded console for the living room and you steal my thunder with a confirmation that it's happening. Way to make me toss a well-written blog post down the drain.

Complaining aside, the timing is humorous. I had just finished a final edit on a post speculating about a Steam Box when Valve announced that day they were making a console. I guess it's fate. Maybe I should write up a blog post speculating about Half-Life 3.

The Steam Box is official, and it's coming to living rooms everywhere soon. Color me excited. The new Big Picture mode is perfect for large televisions and people who prefer their games with a controller. I can't wait to see what Valve makes.

However, there are a few nagging issues. If Valve really wants to see widespread acceptance of the Steam Box, they need to work on a few things.

Controller Compatibility

As of now, gamepad support varies widely on Steam. Some games feature support for controllers of all types. Others like Batman: Arkham City support only wired Xbox 360 controllers. A large majority of Steam titles don't accept anything except mouse and keyboard. That's to be expected for games like Civilization, but it gets real tedious for action-shooters like Mass Effect.

Valve needs some kind of motivating force to push developers toward adding gamepad support, and not just for Xbox controllers. How cool would it be to have one person play with a PS3 controller and another with mouse and keyboard?

One fix I've found for PC games that ignore the controller is to use third-party software like Xpadder. It assigns key presses to buttons on the controller, essentially allowing you to play any game with a controller. It's not perfect, but Xpadder makes the PC port of Mass Effect much more tolerable. Some first-party version of Xpadder built into Steam would go a long way toward easing the transition toward gamepads.

Technical Trouble

As great as PC gaming is, it can be a real pain when you run into technical issues. It says a lot that there's an entire website dedicated to collecting errors in PC games and how to fix them. Anyone who has tried to whip the PC port of Borderlands into shape knows how much of a struggle it can be to fix the glitches.

Console players are not accustomed to this kind of thing. They (correctly) expect every game to run without issue. You don't want to force customers to troubleshoot their own game. That's just bad.

Mouse Mayhem

Picture this. A kid hears a lot about the new Steam Box. He buys one, sits down, and downloads Call of Duty. He starts his first multiplayer match. Dead. Respawns. Dead. Respawns again. Dead.

The problem is mouse-and-keyboard aiming is more accurate than a controller. Even with some generous aim assist, controllers simply aren't as accurate. This gives a competitive advantage to the PC players. What's the kid supposed to do? Learn how to play with mouse and keyboard? Give up?

Even with these issues, I can't wait to see the Steam Box. Whatever Valve comes up with, it'll be cool. Hopefully it will take a slice of Microsoft and Sony's market. Steam is flat-out awesome. It's cool to see more people getting to play it.

What do you think? What do you want to see out of a Steam console? Would you prefer a mouse and keyboard or a controller?

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