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Steam Controller: A Future Without Analog Sticks

Valve has officially released information on its new controller.

The Steam controller has been officially announced and pictures have been posted. It seems to be missing something...

That's right, the Steam controller will not have analog sticks. Instead, the controller has circular trackpads for the player's thumbs.

The most prominent elements of the Steam controller are its two circular trackpads. Driven by the player’s thumbs, each one has a high-resolution trackpad as its base. It is also clickable, allowing the entire surface to act as a button. The trackpads allow far higher fidelity input than has previously been possible with traditional handheld controllers. Steam gamers, who are used to the input associated with PCs, will appreciate that the Steam Controller’s resolution approaches that of a desktop mouse.

The Steam controller is meant to work well with games; new and old. The controller can even access Steam's catalog so that you have plenty of games available at your finger tips.

The Steam Controller is designed to work with all the games on Steam: past, present, and future. Even the older titles in the catalog and the ones which were not built with controller support. (We’ve fooled those older games into thinking they’re being played with a keyboard and mouse, but we’ve designed a gamepad that’s nothing like either one of those devices.) We think you’ll agree that we’re onto something with the Steam Controller, and now we want your help with the design process.

The controller also has a touch screen in its center. This feature is meant to work well with the catalog of games that Steam has developed.

The screen allows an infinite number of discrete actions to be made available to the player, without requiring an infinite number of physical buttons. The whole screen itself is also clickable, like a large single button. So actions are not invoked by a simple touch, they instead require a click. This allows a player to touch the screen, browse available actions, and only then commit to the one they want. Players can swipe through pages of actions in games where that’s appropriate. When programmed by game developers using our API, the touch screen can work as a scrolling menu, a radial dial, provide secondary info like a map or use other custom input modes we haven’t thought of yet.


The internet is already blowing up about the news of the Steam controller. It seems like everyone is up in arms about the lack of analog sticks. I wouldn't mind trying out this controller. I think the fact that Valve worked on it for so long speaks highly of it. I think this could be a great product.

What do you guys think? Are you excited about the new controller?

Published Sep. 27th 2013
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