Steam Controller: Innovation or Failure?

Official Steam Announcement:

Will the Controller Catch On:


These posts are all about the announcement of the new “Steam Controller” which is the third in a series of announcements from the Company Valve, concerning their foray into the console space. This peripheral is very different than standard controllers, and Valve is trying to sell it as a superior gaming experience. This controller looks very interesting to me and I am excited for when I can get my hands on one.

The first post is the official announcement from Valve that details the specifics of their controller. The second post talks about whether or not the controller will be a successful innovation. The last post describes a hands on experience with a beta version of the controller. I think the most interesting thing about all of these posts is the discussion of whether or not this controller will fail, or be a useful innovation. If all of the features work as stated in the post by Valve, I think that this could be a really useful if not amazing piece of tech. However, it all comes down to two things, how it feels, and whether or not the inputs will function adequately in most games.

If the controller doesn’t feel right it won’t be fun to use it. Tommy Refenes, who is responsible for the movement system in Super Meat Boy (widely renowned for its extremely tight and responsive controls), stated that “I’m excited to see what [the] final hardware feels like because I think with the upcoming iterations of the controller we’ll see something that is different, but still feels good.” It seems likely that this new controller will still feel good while playing games.

The only other worrying detail about the controller is its input. On the normal Xbox/PS3 controllers there are two sticks and then 4 buttons immediately above and to the right of the right analog stick. This placement is usually very important in genres such as fighting games, platformers, and fps, because they are used for critical actions that must be accessed quickly. This is changed with the Steam Controller, those 4 buttons are instead in the center and they are split into two groups by the touchscreen on the controller. This means that if anybody wants to hit those buttons they will have to remove their thumb from the left touchpad. The controller makes up for this by adding two additional inputs on the bottom of the controller, but it remains to be seen if this different setup will work well for games. It might be that we just have to adjust to the controller, or that it is actually a difficult setup. We can only hope that it is option one.

I’m excited for this controller, and I hope that it will be a well executed and successful device that actually innovates and changes the gaming experience in a positive way.

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