The third and final announcement from Valve this week revealed a controller to go along with their Steam Machines and SteamOS reveals.
The Steam controller works with two trackpads on the left and right sides, as well as sixteen buttons Valve has designed (for the most part) to be used without lifting thumbs off the trackpads (which can both also be pressed as buttons). The backside of the controller has two long buttons that can be mapped to additional actions. The midsection of the controller is populated with four buttons and a touchscreen interface that can be customized depending on the game being played. Valve's touchscreen has a few special features unique to itself. The screen itself is a button, which allows users to swipe through numerous options before committing to any single one. This means that there can be a huge variety in the number of functions the touchscreen can provide, in addition to the other physical buttons on the controller.
Due to the high degree of accuracy traditional PC games require, the controller does not feature conventional rumble technology. Instead it uses "a new generation of super-precise haptic feedback, employing dual linear resonant actuators." This means the controller can provide very precise rumble feedback without interfering with gameplay. The announcement also mentioned briefly that "as a parlour trick" the haptic rumble can ever convert the trackpads into speakers.
Every button of this new gamepad can be remapped depending on the game users are interested in playing. Players will be able to share their favorite configurations with their friends and community. Eventually, the most popular controller layouts will be made into lists for other players to easily access.
Finally, the controller, much like many of Valve's products, was designed to be taken apart and tinkered with by enterprising gamers:
Just as the Steam Community and Workshop contributors currently deliver tremendous value via additions to software products on Steam, we believe that they will meaningfully contribute to the design of the Steam Controller. We plan to make tools available that will enable users to participate in all aspects of the experience, from industrial design to electrical engineering. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.
That wraps up this week of Valve bombshells. SteamOS, Steam Boxes, and now a strange, new controller, together they have the potential to cause a number of huge waves in the industry and maybe even shift the policies of Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.
What do you all think of these announcements? Good? Bad? Underwhelming? Exciting? Let us know in the comments!