Valve Reveals The Steam Controller

Steam-Controller

Among the slew of announcements this week from Valve, many of us were wondering what would be next after the SteamOS and Steam Machines. Spoiler; it wasn’t Half Life 3 🙁 If you took a look through the agreement when signing up for the Steam Machines beta, you may have seen a section that mentioned a proprietary controller.

Enter the Steam Controller. The controller features dual track pads for superior input fidelity. Each pad is also clickable, and the entire surface of the pad will act as one big button. Trackpads are typically known as “light touch” devices. By nature they down’t offer the same feedback players receive when controlling via joystick.

That’s why the Steam Controller was built around super-precise haptic feedback, the function is achieved by way of dual linear resonant actuators. The small, strong, weighted electro-magnets are attached to each of the trackpads. Much like the new feedback system in the Xbox One controller, the trackpads on the Steam Controller will offer a wide range of force and vibration. The haptic capability gives the trackpads precise phsycial feedback. The type that’s missing from most touch devices. The feedback will react to speed, boundaries, thresholds, textures, action confirmations, and any other capability that programmers deem necessary.

Steam-Controller-Haptic-Feedback

The gamepad will also ship with a touch enabled surface, backed by a high resolution screen. The touch screen will allow an infinite range of discrete actions without the implementation of infinite numbers of buttons. The entire screen surface is also clikable, becoming one large single button. Actions will actually require a click, thus giving users the ability to touch the screen, choose from a range of actions, and then commit as needed. The touch screen may also act as a scrolling menu, a radial dial, or provide secondary information like maps and inventory. The fantastic feature of the touch input happens when the player touches it. An additional UI will overlay on top of the game they’re currently playing, allowing the player to keep their focus where it belongs.

Buttons have been placed based on the frequency of use, precision, and ergonomic comfort. The Steam Controller comes packed with a total of sixteen buttons. Half of which are accessible without having to lift your thumbs from the trackpads.

Steam-Controller-Bindings

As with most everything Valve implements, the controller itself has been designed from the ground up to be hackable. Valve has identified the value of it’s community and Workshop contributors, and they’re confident that the community will continue to contribute new, innovative ways of using the controllers features.

The really great thing about the Steam Controller is that it will be fully integrated with every title available on Steam; past, present and future. Looks like they weren’t screwing around with Big Picture Mode.

Valve is making a move on the living room space like never before. The combination of the Steam Machine and Controller could clip a significant part of the console consumer base away from Microsoft and Sony. Depending on the varying MSRP’s we’re likely to see on a Steam Machine, we could be seeing a legitimate contender for the living room gaming space emerging before our very eyes. Now that all this week’s announcements are out of they way, What do you think about SteamOS, Steam Machines, and the Steam Controller?

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Dylan Zellmer

Dylan splits time between games journalism, designing video games, and playing them. Outside of his deep involvement in the games industry, he enjoys It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shameless, A Song of Ice and Fire, fitness, and family.
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