Valve unveils the Steam Controller

Written by Edward Chester

September 27, 2013 // 8:02 p.m.

Tags: #controller #steam #steam-controller #steam-machines #steamos #steam-os #valve

Valve has revealed plans for a new game controller - the Steam Controller, that's designed to work with the company's SteamOS and Steam Machines.

The device looks similar to a typical console controller but instead of thumbsticks for controlling movement it uses trackpads, a move that Valve thinks will offer "a new and, we believe, vastly superior control scheme, all while enabling you to play from the comfort of your sofa."

In particular Valve sees the new controls as being much better for "RTS games. Casual, cursor-driven games. Strategy games [and] 4x space exploration games."

The device will also feature sophisticated haptic feedback to create a more immersive control system. It achieves this usiing "dual linear resonant actuators. These small, strong, weighted electro-magnets are attached to each of the dual trackpads. They are capable of delivering a wide range of force and vibration, allowing precise control over frequency, amplitude, and direction of movement."

The third string in the Steam Controllers bow is a clickable touchscreen. This allows for a multitude of controls to be replicated onscreen.

In terms of more conventional controls there will also be trigger controls on the back edges.

As with Valve's two other announcements from earlier in the week, the Steam Controller is being designed with openness in mind, with Valve making available tools that will allow users to "participate in all aspects of the experience, from industrial design to electrical engineering."

The Steam Controller follows the announcements of SteamOS and Steam Machines. The former is a gaming-centric operating system based on Canonical's Ubuntu Linux that will allow the full catalogue of Steam games to be run on - in particular - living room PCs. The latter is the broad term for the hardware devices that will be commercially available that will run SteamOS. Valve is designing the first Machines but is also allowing other system builders and hardware manufacturers to make their own versions.

Valve unveils the Steam Controller

All three announcements also follow last year's release of Big Picture mode, which was Valve's first move towards living room gaming with a game controller-friendly interface for standard Steam installations.

SteamOS will be available soon as a free download while the official Steam-designed versions of Steam Machines and Steam Controller will be available to 300 lucky people. To be in with a chance of receiving one these users will have to complete a set of Steam related tasks, as laid out here, with entry closing on 25 October.
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