What is a home console without a controller? A whole lot of not much at all but Valve seems to realise that. Following the announcement of SteamOS, an operating system designed around the Steam gaming platform, and the Steam Machines beta, which will doubtless prove to be a vehicle for the OS, Valve has taken the wraps off the final component: a game controller. And it’s unlike anything we’ve seen to date.
By far the most unusual sight is the absence of analogue sticks. Instead Valve has opted to use two trackpads for the Steam Controller, which will “…bridge the gap from the desk to the living room without compromises.” Valve says that the device will work with every title available on Steam and, to that end, have included haptics feedback, a total of sixteen buttons and a touchscreen which sits between the two trackpads.
Gamepad key bindings look to be a custom affair, with users being able to share with the community. The Steam Controller will emulate a mouse and keyboard for older titles and playing games which are traditionally PC-based, like first person shooters and real-time strategy titles, will probably require relearning the controls in a new format.
The Steam Controller is also part of the Steam Machines hardware beta, though the controller used for the test won’t be the same as the one which will be released for general consumption. Instead of a second trackpad, the test controllers will feature four buttons – a more traditional configuration.