To finish off this week’s round of announcements, Valve unveiled a partner to the upcoming Steam Machines and SteamOS, the Steam Controller. This week’s headlines have been filled with Steam launches and Valves done well to keep us in suspense, even if it did feel like a bit of an anti-climax.
The Steam Controller is shaped like any other controller but instead of analogue sticks, features two clickable track pads. When comparing the accuracy to that of an analogue stick, Valve said the pads offered an accuracy that “approaches that of a desktop mouse”. Between these two pads is a touch screen, with a high resolution – this too is clickable.
“Players can swipe through pages of actions in games where that’s appropriate. When programmed by game developers using our API, the touch screen can work as a scrolling menu, a radial dial, provide secondary info like a map or use other custom input modes we haven’t thought of yet”
With 16 buttons in total, 4 can be found situated around the touchscreen and the rear of the device. To address the issue that some games require a keyboard, developers will be able to assign keyboard buttons through the controller, as Valve say’s allowing the controller to “present itself as a keyboard and mouse”.
The controller is riddled with haptic sensors which offer in game feedback for the user; situated behind the track pads, touchscreen and shoulder buttons. These not only provide a physical feedback but also double up as speakers offering audio and waveform feedback.
The controller is open and as hackable as any other PC hardware, Valve has touted. Gamers can modify controls for each game and the precision of the sensors mean you’ll get an unrivalled experience.
Sadly, if you want your hands on this controller, you’ll have to wait till after the beta – that is of course if you’re not already in. Again Valve is selecting only 300 participants who meet their criteria and therefore, your chances are slim. These beta units will not be wireless and the touch screen will be replaced by 4 buttons.
So as we round up this week’s onslaught of Steam news, it is clear that Valve wants to make the living room its own. It wants a presence on the couch and it is trying hard. I am yet to see if this will work – PC gamers will love it. But those hoping for a dedicated Steam Console, might find buying, what is just a PC with SteamOS, a little boring. If Valve wanted to compete with the consoles, it should have released its own – it could easily have done so. But the fact they still rely on PCs mean that there is still a barrier between the markets; and new time gamers, who want to simple game, might just go for a PS4 or XBOX One. We’ll wait and see.