Valve concludes its week of reveals with the Steam Controller

valve concludes its week of reveals with the steam controller

Gamer friends, meet the Steam Controller.

We’ve heard all about the SteamOS, a Linux-based, gaming-focused operating system that intentionally skirts around Windows. And we’ve gotten our first sense of the living room hardware it will load onto with Valve’s Steam Machines. Now we’ve got the Steam Controller, and since first impressions say a lot, here’s ours: man that thing looks weird.

Although it’s roughly the same shape as an Xbox 360 gamepad, the Steam Controller is fitted with a pair of clickable trackpads where you’d normally find twin thumbsticks. The four face buttons are split into pairs, with each set positioned along the inward edge of the two trackpads. Sitting between the buttons in the center of the controller is a high-resolution touchscreen that also doubles as a large, clickable button. Finally, to round things out, there are also four shoulder buttons, two per side; plus two more buttons, one per side, on the back of the controller.

Valve notes that the Steam Controller will support all games on Steam, “past, present, and future.” This even includes titles that weren’t designed with gamepad support. “We’ve fooled those older games into thinking they’re being played with a keyboard and mouse, but we’ve designed a gamepad that’s nothing like either one of those devices,” the announcement page notes.

It appears that many of the more complicated commands that a keyboard/mouse-only game might demand will be handled on the Steam Controller’s touch screen. The fact that the entire screen is a single, clickable button means that you can use the screen’s touch capabilities to browse through the list of possible commands but not actually input the desired command until you button-click the screen. What’s more, whenever you use the touchpad, its contents are overlaid on your TV screen so you don’t have to look down at the controller.

There’s also haptic technology fitted into the device, a feature that is best described as “next-gen rumble.” The dual trackpads are attached to weighted electro-magnets that “are capable of delivering a wide range of force and vibration, allowing precise control over frequency, amplitude, and direction of movement.” The Xbox One’s controller employs similar technology in its two analog triggers.

Steam Controller - Portal 2

The Steam Controller is designed with a legacy mode that makes any attached PC recognize it as a mouse and keyboard. A configuration tool – presumably free, though it’s not explicitly stated – allows users to create whatever custom key bindings they’d like. You can see an example of keyboard/mouse-mapped controls for Portal 2 on a Steam Controller in the image above. The controller is also built to be hackable in general, with Valve promising to offer tools “that will enable users to participate in all aspects of the experience, from industrial design to electrical engineering.”

Like the rest of Valve’s reveals over the past five days, continued development of the Steam Controller will be guided by input from the community. The newly revealed device is covered in the same beta that will see a limited number of participants testing out Steam Machines in the near future. The beta version of the controller will be wired and won’t sport a touchscreen – four buttons will be used in its place – but the consumer release in 2014 will more closely resemble the device picture above.


Ditch the discs: The Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is available for pre-order

Like it or not, discs seem to be going the way of the VHS tape. Digital gaming is quickly becoming the new norm even for consoles, and Microsoft’s new Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is now available for pre-order with three free games…

Light on price but rich on features, these are the best cameras for students

Need pro-level features on a budget? The best cameras for students mix advanced features with a more palatable price point. From $2K entry level full frame cameras to $600 budget picks, here are five of the best cameras for students.

Get in control with some of the best Xbox One gamepads you can get right now

A number of different controllers are available on the Xbox One, from gamepads made by Microsoft, to third-party controllers loaded with special features. Here are the best you can buy.

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for April 2019

Looking to score Nintendo's latest console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on bundles that feature must-have games like Super Mario Odyssey, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Zelda: Breath of…

Still listening on tinny, muffled TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.

The best zombie games of all time, from Resident Evil to The Last of Us

Zombies are a longtime media staple, from movies to literature to TV to video games. Plenty of zombie games are bland and boring, but a good number offer tangible reasons to care about the undead. These are the best zombie games.

The Last of Us Part 2 finishes capturing its main characters’ performances

Calling it the most "ambitious cinematic shoot" the team has ever done, Naughty Dog revealed that the motion-capture performances for the main characters in The Last of Us Part II are finished.

Transform into the ultimate leader with our tips and tricks for Civilization 6

Civilization VI offers both series veterans and total newcomers a lot to chew on from the get-go. Here are some essential starting tips to help you master the game's many intricacies.

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in Destiny 2: Forsaken

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.

World of Warcraft's allied races will make you want to start a new character

The Horde and Alliance are seeking new allies in their struggle for control of Azeroth. Whether you pledge your allegiance to the Horde or Alliance, we have a guide to help you unlock every allied race in Battle for Azeroth.

Wired headphones are so 2018. Here's how to pair a Bluetooth device to your PS4

One of the best aspects of modern consoles is how easily you can pair them with other devices. Here's our quick primer on how to connect a Bluetooth headset (or really any Bluetooth device) to your PlayStation 4.

Here are the best games to play with your friends on the Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch's hybrid design adds convenience to your gaming time, allowing you to play Switch games both at home and on the go. The design also benefits multiplayer experiences, from co-op to competitive and online to offline.

Amazon sale knocks 20% off Nintendo Switch, Pro Controller, and games

A new wave of savings on gaming content is crashing down in celebration of Earth Day. Amazon is slashing prices up to 20% off for used Nintendo Switch consoles, games, and accessories like the Switch Pro Controller.

Get Nindie with it and check out these awesome indie games for the Switch

The Nintendo Switch's portability makes indies feel at home on the platform. Luckily, there are plenty of great titles to choose from. Here are our picks for the best Nintendo Switch indie games.