Valve Completes Its Trifecta of Announcements with the Steam Controller
Today's the day for Valve's third and final announcement for the week, which has already seen the likes of SteamOS and Steam Machines. So what does the company have in store for today? The Steam Controller. It's a gamepad designed to work with the entire Steam library while you're comfortably sitting on your couch. It looks like nothing else you've seen before, however, as the Steam Controller has two trackpads in place of the traditional face buttons. Each trackpad is high-resolution for the utmost precision and can also be pressed in like a button. Haptic feedback has been worked in as well, yet Valve decided on a new generation system in order to deliver a better range of force and vibration.
In the middle of the controller is a touchscreen to give gamers any number of possible actions outside of the buttons. The touchscreen has to be clicked in order to register an action, so feel free to swipe along to find the exact action before committing to it. Developers can program it to function as a radial dial, a scrolling menu, a map, or any number of other features Valve hasn't thought of. Touching the screen brings up an overlay on your TV or monitor so you can see what you're doing without taking your eyes off the game.
As for the buttons, Valve has packed each Steam Controller with sixteen in total. About half of them can be accessed without removing your thumbs from the trackpads. Every one of them has been placed symmetrically too, so there's no awkward reaching or reprogramming if you're a lefty or a righty. Valve has engineered the controller to be registered as a keyboard and mouse in games that don't support controllers, with various bindings able to be created and shared by the Steam Community. An example for Portal 2 can be seen below.
Like SteamOS and Steam Machines, the Steam Controller can be tweaked and modified by its users. Valve is planning to open the doors to see just what everyone can come up with for the controllers, so maybe that touch screen will have many more uses down the road. The lucky 300 people selected for the Steam Machines beta will also receive a Steam Controller, however it'll have four buttons instead of a touchscreen and will connect via a USB cable instead of wirelessly. If you don't plan to get one of the Steam Machines when they're available next year but like the controller, you can buy one separately. Oh, and Valve has no intention of abandoning keyboard and mouse support in favor of the Steam Controllers, the company's just providing another input option.