Valve has released a demonstration of a prototype Steam Controller, showing how the twin-touchpad system can work with unmodified PC games, even as some big-name developers hint heavily at Linux support for their future titles.
Part of Valve's SteamOS initiative - an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution designed to make playing PC games as accessible as playing console games, and the central pillar of its Steam Machine push - the Steam Controller is designed to address the issues with playing games designed for a keyboard and mouse in the living room. To launch with a multi-function touch-screen in the centre flanked by two concave touch-sensitive surfaces where the direction pads and buttons would normally be found, the Steam Controller is certainly eye-catching.
Valve has claimed the design of the Steam Controller can truly take over from a keyboard and mouse for many games, however, and to prove it has released a video showing the controller being used on a variety of games from turn-based strategy titles to first-person shooters. Although its prototype isn't fully refined yet - the promised touch-screen represented by four more sedate buttons - it's a good indication of how the system will work, and whether it can truly offer an alternative control system that won't have PC gamers throwing the pad across the room in frustration.
The release comes as Valve updates the beta builds of its Steam digital distribution platform to include code for game streaming, a feature that will allow gamers to play Windows-only titles on a Linux-based Steam Machine by streaming the video from a remote PC - a handy solution for those who don't want their bulky and noisy gaming machine in the living room, and who can't afford a dedicated gaming-capable HTPC build.
At the same time, publishers are increasingly putting their weight behind triple-A gaming on Linux: DICE creative director Lars Gustavsson recently told Polygon
that 'we strongly want to get into Linux,
' while Creative Assembly's brand director Rob Bartholomew confirmed to PCGamesN
there was 'absolutely no reason
' it couldn't bring its games, including Rome: Total War II, to the platform.
Valve's demonstration video is reproduced for your delectation below.