With the Steam OS as the software and the line of Steam Machines providing the hardware, it’s not that surprising that indie game company Valve would unveil a proprietary controller to bridge the gap between the two. The Steam Controller is hackable, programmable, and apparently works with all games available on Steam, the company announced Friday.
From an aesthetics point of view, the Steam Controller doesn’t look much like any traditional console peripheral — for one, there isn’t a joystick. Instead, the controller relies on two trackpads that allow for freer movement and haptic response. The sixteen buttons on the controller include two that flank the inner sides of each track pad and two on the back of the peripheral. Finally, a touch screen similar to the one offered on the Ouya controller is in the center, enabling users to make certain multitouch actions within the game.
Valve claims that the Steam Controller will work on all games available on the Steam platform — including the ones that currently do not support one. The system has a “legacy mode” to act like a keyboard and mouse, as well as a binding tool that enables users to configure the buttons on their gamepad to their own liking. Valve has also promised that the Steam Controller will be hackable and open, so developers can reprogram it easily.
While Steam OS and Steam Machines are essential to bringing the PC/console hybrid experience to life, it’s clear from the announcement how much time and effort Valve has thrown in to the Steam Controller. While Steam Machines are handled through multiple third-party partnerships, that controller will be the unifying element to it all — which means a lot is riding on it.
My tiny hands are cramping just looking at the design, but using it will be believing. It seems like the wrong thing to save for last, as everyone has kept their eye on the consoles, but the Steam Controller will be what makes the devices a Valve product.