Valve Unveils the Steam Controller
By Zack Wheat on September 27th, 2013 (14 comments)
After two big announcements this week in which Valve Software made a powerful step towards commanding the living room, they have wrapped up the week by announcing the controller which gamers will be using for these Steam Machines.
Eschewing any preconceived notions of what a traditional gaming controller is supposed to look like, the Steam Controller comes with two touchpads and a single touch screen in the center along with four buttons flanking the touch screen and four shoulder buttons. Three more sit beneath the touch screen and touch pads.
This design is strange at first glance, but Valve insists that it has been assembled this way in order to achieve the controller's true purpose of making every game in the Steam Library playable on Steam Machines. The controller is designed so that it can totally replace a keyboard and mouse setup, and is apparently quite effective at this already:
"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."
Valve has also made this an incredibly open controller, desiging the controller "from the ground up to be hackable." Allowing the average user to customize everything "from industrial design to electrical engineering," this will unquestionably be the most open controller on the market.
It's interesting to note that while Steam Machine systems are being assembled and released by multiple hardware companies, this Steam Controller is made in-house at Valve. All this talk of openness very likely means that outside hardware companies will be able to work with Valve's template and come up with their own Steam Controllers, but at the very least, it will be fascinating to see what users pull off with the device.
This is the final Steam Machines announcement for now, according to Valve's statement, but it's been quite a week. When those beta machines and controllers go out to users, the true potential of this system should start to really rear its head.
For more screenshots and details, you can see Valve's full release here.
Zack Wheat is a Staff Writer at 4Player who fights the urge every day to make sweeping statements about video games using as many words as possible. He has an unbridled love for anything Metal Gear or Ace Attorney, a fondness for JRPGs, and an embarrassing affection for J-pop. Follow him on Twitter, because he loves you.
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