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Steam Controller
The Steam Controller takes cues from the mouse

30 Sep 2013 | Rasmus Larsen |

Valve has unveiled the SteamOS and has told us that anyone can build a Steam Machine. The final step in their plan to compete in the living room game console field is a new game controller that takes cues from the PC mouse. It also has haptic feedback.

The Steam controller

Steam is a PC platform today, but Valve wants to reinvent itself with a game console for the living room. Therefore, it is not completely unexpected that their first game controller tries to combine the classic game controller with a PC mouse that most games on Steam are built around.

Steam Controller
Valve presents the Steam Controller that aims to combine a controller and the PC mouse

The game controller is simply dubbed Steam Controller and has the same basic form as other game controllers. But instead of the analog sticks it has two touch-sensitive “trackpads”. They can be controlled with the thumb and are very sensitive, according to Valve. The entire surface also acts as a button. Valve believes that the trackpads can replace the mouse, and let users control FPS or strategy games as they would do with a real mouse – or almost. Valve also says that all current games automatically see the controller as a mouse and keyboard, so it will work without developers having to add support.

The controller has an integrated haptic feedback system, and Valve is quick to emphasize that it is far more advanced than the typical “rumble” systems of the existing controllers. It is built with small precise actuators that can apply force and vibration, and combine these for a range of effects. Valve hints that this will allow game developers to utilize haptic feedback in entirely new ways, for example make users feel that they are running on asphalt or grass. They can even play audio and function as speakers.

Steam Controller
An example of how the Steam Controller could be configured

In the center is a small touch display that can be programmed by the game developers and function as for example an information center (a clock or smartphone); a second screen experience. The touch screen also has a physical click function integrated. The game controller naturally has a range of buttons and can be “hacked” by the community.

Valve has unveiled the three elements of its living room game console plans to take on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. So, what do you think?

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