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access_time September 27, 2013 at 10:47 AM in News by Ryan Bates

Valve announces trackpad-based Steam Controller

Steam Controller

Valve promised three major announcements this week, and the third has just fallen into the palm of gamers’ hands.

Today Valve released the first images of the Steam Controller, on the heels of Monday’s announcement of a Steam OS and Wednesday’s announcement of a prototype console.

The Steam Controller, as it is being billed currently, eschews joysticks or thumbsticks for dual trackpads. With Steam and PC gamers being used to keyboards and mice, the Steam Controller looks to replicate that experience on a couch, as both trackpads function as clickable buttons as well as high fidelity inputs.

Featured in the center of the pad is a touchscreen, which will serve multiple purposes dependent on the game being played. The touchscreen itself will also be clickable, serving to prevent accidental button-presses. Developers can utilize the touchscreen in a number of ways, including scroll menus, radial dials, or a second-screen experience. Unlike consoles, however, Steam Controller’s touchscreen can be overlayed onto the game the user is playing, allowing users to keep their eyes on the game at all times while still having the option for a second-screen experience.

Valve also promises strong haptic feedback, as opposed to a weight spun around a single axis, ergonomic mindfulness in button placement, and the ability to share bindings through the Steam community for popular games.

Portal Controller

Those lucky enough to get in the beta program for Steam OS and “Steam Box,” as it has been nicknamed, will also receive the Steam Controller in a beta form.


  • killatia September 27, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    The layout of the controller look terrible to me.

    • Ryan Bates September 27, 2013 at 11:38 AM

      What don’t you like about it?

      • killatia September 27, 2013 at 11:56 AM

        The placements of the A B X & Y buttons feels wrong to me, the track pads looks bigger then they need to be, and the overall design of the controller’s handle doesn’t look comfortable. The touch screen in the center is a nice touch though, but according to valve’s faq’s that feature won’t be in the beta testing version of the controller.

        • Ryan Bates September 27, 2013 at 12:00 PM

          Since I’m primarily a console gamer myself, at first it seemed odd to me too. But if you consider that most people watching this are PC gamers, used to using mice, it makes sense. They don’t move their fingers as much as console players do, so the layout of the buttons requiring little to no movement seems to match up with that characteristic. And the trackpads seem big, but again, you can move a mouse anywhere, and I think that’s where Valve was going with that.

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