Following its SteamOS operating system and Steam Box hardware announcements, this morning, Valve revealed the third piece of their strategy intended to bring the Steam service into people’s living rooms—the Steam Controller.
The Steam Controller is a traditional wireless gamepad, but with a different design than what you’re used to seeing. Instead of analog sticks, the controller sports two trackpads, which are meant to serve the same purpose as a pair of sticks. The trackpads are clickable and Valve claim that they allow for “higher fidelity input” than what has been possible with traditional controllers.
“Whole genres of games that were previously only playable with a keyboard and mouse are now accessible from the sofa,” Valve say on the Steam website. “RTS games. Casual, cursor-driven games. Strategy games.” They add that first-person shooters designed with precise-aiming in mind will benefit from the trackpads, too.
In addition to the trackpads, the Steam Controller features a touch screen in the centre. Like the trackpads, the touch screen, too, is clickable, and sounds like it’s meant to emulate a mouse. You can browse available actions using the touch screen and then “click” on the option you want to select. Additionally, when a player touches the touch screen, its display is overlayed on the TV screen, allowing you to keep using it without having to look down at the controller.
Finally, we come to buttons. Valve say that each button on the Steam Controller has been placed “based on frequency of use”. There are a total of sixteen buttons on the controller, placed symmetrically, and allow players to toggle configurations for left and right-handedness. Above is a look at how the Steam Controller can be used in Portal 2. However, Valve say that games on Steam will allow the user to map their buttons as they please, similar to a mouse and keyboard.
The Steam Controller will be included with Valve’s Steam Machine, but you won’t need a Steam Machine to be able to use it—Valve say it will work with “any version of Steam”.