Valve is one of the world’s most beloved gaming companies. Creators of the game sale mecca that is Steam and awesome games like Team Fortress 2 and the Half Life series, Valve has built up an excellent reputation with gamers over its history.
Valve recently announced that it was entering the hardware space. Well, most gamers had known about Steam’s plans for quite some time, but last week, Steam was finally ready to unveil the goods.
Steam’s three announcements were:
-A game-oriented operating system based on Linux (which will be available for free)
-Home console hardware
-A revolutionary new gamepad
We’ve known about Steam’s console for quite some time, which is a PC-style box that runs Valve’s new OS. It’s the Steam Controller that has truly intrigued people.
The Steam Controller looks totally different from any other controller ever made. Instead of using joysticks for movement, the Steam Controller uses two trackpacks designed for high precision.
These trackpads feature a similar resolution to that of a desktop mouse, which means that, with a bit of practice, PC gamers will be able to enjoy a near-PC level of precision. If you’re the type of gamer who can snipe a headshot with a mouse and keyboard but not with a joystick, then the Steam Controller is designed for you.
Here are some other cool features included in the Steam Controller:
-Each trackpad features an electromagnet which is designed to provide more precise haptic feedback (which means it responds better to the touch of your fingers). That electromagnet is also able to function as a speaker, although Valve expects that to be more of a “parlor trick” than a practical feature.
-The Steam Controller is designed to work with all the games on Steam: “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.” In other words, if a game works with a keyboard and mouse, then it should work with the Steam Controller.
-The Steam Controller is designed to function as a mouse and keyboard. Obviously, a keyboard has more buttons than a controller. How did Valve get around this problem? They included a high-resolution touchscreen in the middle of the controller where the most important gaming functions will be placed.
-In addition to the touch screen, there are three horizontal buttons beneath the touch screen and four physical buttons around the edges of the screen.
-There are four triggers on the back of the Steam Controller and two buttons on the back of the pad. There’s no directional pad/D-pad.
So far, the Steam Controller is in its early testing phases. A prototype unit is expected to be released to beta testers soon, although those beta units won’t feature a high-resolution screen.
The Steam Controller is one of the most creative takes on the gaming controller we’ve seen in many years. It throws traditional design out the window and combines some of the best PC features with the best console features. And that’s why this controller has the potential to be massive.
Look for the Steam Controller and its console/OS to arrive early in 2014. Whether gamers take the chance or not remains to be seen.