The Steam Controller Is Valve's Third Announcement

Posted by Alex (3159 posts) -
The Steam Controller, which we're almost kind of possibly sure isn't Half-Life 3.

After Valve announced both SteamOS and the Steam Machine gaming PCs earlier this week, most people logically believed that the company's final announcement for the week would end up being a controller. They were right. It's totally a controller.

That said, I don't imagine most people were expecting the controller design we've been given. Titled the Steam Controller, this new device features a form and function that would be considered "nontraditional" by most modern gaming standards. Most notably, there are no analog sticks anywhere on the device. In their place are a pair of clickable trackpads, which Valve believes will offer a high fidelity input akin to a desktop mouse. For those who might lament the lack of physical interaction one would have in absence of actual sticks, Valve explains that it has included a new type of "haptic feedback" that...well, here, let's just read their explanation.

The Steam Controller is built around a new generation of super-precise haptic feedback, employing dual linear resonant actuators. These small, strong, weighted electro-magnets are attached to each of the dual trackpads. They are capable of delivering a wide range of force and vibration, allowing precise control over frequency, amplitude, and direction of movement.

This haptic capability provides a vital channel of information to the player - delivering in-game information about speed, boundaries, thresholds, textures, action confirmations, or any other events about which game designers want players to be aware. It is a higher-bandwidth haptic information channel than exists in any other consumer product that we know of. As a parlour trick they can even play audio waveforms and function as speakers.

In addition to all of that, the controller features a clickable touch screen in the center, and is designed to be entirely "hackable," in that Valve plans to "make tools available that will enable users to participate in all aspects of the experience, from industrial design to electrical engineering." Most importantly, the announcement goes out of its way to tout support for Euro Truck Simulator 2.

The controller will go out alongside the 300 Steam Machine beta units that Valve plans to release to selected testers this year. However, the version in this beta won't include the touch-screen (it'll have additional face buttons instead), and won't be wireless.

This has been an interesting week, hasn't it?

#1 Posted by flasaltine (1876 posts) -

Do you have to scroll the trackpads like a laptop or can you just hold in a position?

#2 Edited by SlashDance (1864 posts) -

"It's better than actual sticks, honest!"

edit: it might totally be by the way, we shouldn't judge this thing before trying it.

#3 Posted by JamieOD (81 posts) -

No idea what to expect until I use one so I'm willing to give it a shot.

#4 Edited by DonPixel (2759 posts) -

yeah... looks overly complicated for Mass Market appeal.

#5 Posted by Overbite (243 posts) -

This thing looks so silly

#6 Posted by JSwan13 (339 posts) -

sweet boombox

#7 Posted by the_messenger (28 posts) -

Either it'll be amazing or feel insane. I'll give it a shot, what the hell.

#8 Edited by Darson (474 posts) -


#9 Edited by elitefury (62 posts) -

All for it. Good to see them try something different.

#10 Posted by buft (3409 posts) -

they double as speakers,it always seemed to be a great idea on the wii but it never really got much play.

#11 Posted by stryk187 (9 posts) -

That thing looks like Wall-E and Johnny-5 had a crackbaby.

#12 Posted by Hailinel (25787 posts) -

And I thought trackpads on laptops were annoying.

#13 Posted by Sin4profit (3233 posts) -

@flacracker: pretty sure it works just like virtual thumbsticks but as a trackpad it could be programmed to go either way..or even run you finger around the rim of it for driving games and such.

#14 Posted by Vuud (2052 posts) -

I think you plug it into your brain via your datajack and you can hack the matrix.

#15 Posted by Forcen (2137 posts) -

This sure looks like the controller to play mouse driven games with. Civ 5 with this could really work.

#16 Posted by stunik101 (78 posts) -

Sounds totally ridiculous ..but if it works it could be awesome

#17 Edited by Synekal (51 posts) -

I'm cautiously optimistic.

I trust Valve (probably too much), but we've seen controllers like this in the past. Hell, the NES had something similar to this. And they've all just felt weird.

But, if anyone can make weird things like this work it's Valve. Having it completely open and hackable is a nice touch too. (GET IT?!?!)

#18 Edited by owack6 (255 posts) -

It looks like someone made a controller out of a tiny Boom-Box.

#19 Posted by SikNastiWitIt (26 posts) -

I think it's awesome that they're doing something interesting. If you don't like it, the 360 controller still works...

#20 Posted by rk (16 posts) -

Can't remember the last time Valve did something wrong, so I'm optimistic.

#21 Posted by xatmos (94 posts) -

All 3 announcements were clearly trolls, here's Half Life 4.

#22 Posted by PimblyCharles (1795 posts) -

At this point I doubt we'll ever see another Half-Life :(

#23 Edited by SpaceButler (49 posts) -

Very interesting. That controller might be excellent for certain games and horrible for others. I'll be looking forward to first-hand accounts.

#24 Edited by porjos (247 posts) -

"Traditional gamepads force us to accept compromises," writes the company. "We've made it a goal to improve upon the resolution and fidelity of input that’s possible with those devices."

Hopefully, this levels the playing field with controller vs mouse/keyboard in multi-player shooters.

#25 Posted by wrecks (2445 posts) -

Hell yeah, that could work.

#26 Posted by exfate (466 posts) -

I think it seems pretty great conceptually. It's far enough removed from a typical controller though that it's impossible to really judge without getting your hands on it.

It also sounds expensive...

#27 Edited by composite (141 posts) -

It looks like a bad design. I can't believe it doesn't at least have some form or face buttons or d-pad/joystick. You have four buttons you can press without lifting your thumbs of one of the trackpads. If you lift off one, you have 6 buttons, but those two surrounding the touchscreen look awkwardly placed at best. If you lift of one of the sticks on a regular controller, you have 8 buttons that you can be pressing while stick being able to move/aim. I think touch implementations of joysticks are bad, even with all the haptics and physical contours. I don't know, was super excited about the Steam Machine, but this controller seems like a miss.

#28 Posted by The_Laughing_Man (13807 posts) -

That looks stupid as shit.....I LOVE IT!

#29 Posted by MarkHawk (103 posts) -

The super-precise haptic feedback sounds pretty interesting. Valve has been speaking out against traditional controller inputs for sometime and their lack of practicality. It'll be interesting to see if Valve's can really come up with a new way that's more intuitive.

#30 Posted by Superkenon (1569 posts) -

What the fuck is that thing.

#31 Posted by kishinfoulux (2883 posts) -

No analog? LOL. No thanks. I use controllers instead of mouse/keyboard for a reason.

#32 Posted by Yesiamaduck (1493 posts) -

Good thing Euro Truck sim is a fantastic game.. I think I'll stick with my 360 controller (and soon XBONE controller and windows for now)

#33 Posted by Beomoose (738 posts) -

@jswan13 said:

sweet boombox

Cannot un-see, thanks

#34 Posted by TheRealMoot (531 posts) -

It looks more like a tiny stereo...

#35 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (5014 posts) -

I would try it

#36 Posted by thefriend (191 posts) -

@kishinfoulux: I can't tell if you're trolling. A mouse is far superior compared to analog sticks.

#37 Posted by Morningstar (2327 posts) -

Looks like shit. Hopefully it plays better than it looks.

#38 Posted by Nitrocore (367 posts) -

I see that they went for the "Wall-e" design.

#39 Posted by Rasgueado (794 posts) -

Heck yes! Let's try something *different* for a change.

#40 Edited by PresidentOfJellybeans (317 posts) -

What's the worst part of a laptop computer? The track pad?.. Let's make a controller out of that! Brilliant!.. Kinda surprised Microsoft didn't think of this first.

#41 Edited by Tennmuerti (8520 posts) -

Huh, well. At least it's something new and interesting.

We will see how it will function and if it will work out to be a great way to control things or not. But uh as Hailinel mentioned track pads on laptops suck, especially for gaming. Even tho this is mostly trying to replace analog sticks rather then a mouse, unlike a trackpad.

Time will tell.

#42 Posted by michaelferrari (26 posts) -

I'm sorry, but this is just another classic scenario where Valve does something that had anybody else done, they would be getting torn to shreds. Nintendo releases a controller with a built in tablet? "That's so stupid!" These guys make a controller with touch-pads, and "Oh hey, ya never know!" I love Valve, but this is getting out of control.

#43 Edited by kpaadet (420 posts) -

Somebody kill it with fire!

#44 Posted by dr_mantas (2404 posts) -

For people like me, who play games sitting at their PC, this changes absolutely nothing.

The entire Valve push into the living room is incredibly weird.

#45 Edited by masterpaperlink (1918 posts) -

If they can give me the same precision and speed i get with a mouse on my thumb this could be amazing, gabe was of the opinion that the most efficient form of input came from the fingers. we will see, i want one real bad.

#46 Posted by mrfluke (5682 posts) -


#47 Posted by MondyofAus (33 posts) -

What the FUCK is that.

Cautiously optimistic, just because I trust Valve. They've given nobody any reason not to.

#48 Posted by Ketchupp (679 posts) -

I'm in.

#49 Posted by benu302000 (217 posts) -



#50 Posted by iAmJohn (6166 posts) -

If Valve wasn't behind this thing, no one would give it any benefit of the doubt whatsoever. There's a good reason for that.

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