A Steam Controller announcement was expected but what was revealed is completely different from traditional console controllers as it feature two trackpads in place of thumbsticks. Additionally, the face buttons are placed around a touchpad in the middle of the controller where they are accessible to both the left and right hands instead of the traditional location on the right side of the gamepad. However, the trigger and bumper buttons remain in their traditional location but two more have been added to the rear. There are a total of 16 buttons when you count the clickable touchpads and the controller is designed to be used by right-handed or left-handed people.
"We set out with a singular goal: bring the Steam experience, in its entirety, into the living-room. We knew how to build the user interface, we knew how to build a machine, and even an operating system. But that still left input — our biggest missing link. We realized early on that our goals required a new kind of input technology — one that could bridge the gap from the desk to the living room without compromises. So we spent a year experimenting with new approaches to input and we now believe we’ve arrived at something worth sharing and testing with you," Valve explained on its website.
Valve says the controller is designed to work with the entire catalog of games whether they include gamepad support or not. It also supports haptic feedback much like the Xbox One controller to provide a greater fidelity of feedback from in-game actions.
The dual trackpads are the most immediate concern for most gamers but Valve claims that they 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."
This will supposedly allow genres such as real-time strategy to be used with the controller in addition to the mouse and keyboard. Regular versions of Steam will work with the controller on top of SteamOS.
The controller will be included as part of the Steam Machines beta that is launching soon but will not include the touchscreen at the center and will not be wireless. Instead, they will feature four buttons in the middle and will also come with a wire to be plugged into the gaming PC.
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