Whilst Valve’s first two announcements took many by surprise, the third unveiling that occurred today suffered somewhat from being a shade predictable. Amidst the excitement of the first two announcements, a small, innocent and rather NES-like controller had quietly sat, conspicuously absent from all of Valve’s previous announcements, seemingly observing developments and waiting for its inevitable moment in the spotlight.
Well little fella, now’s your chance to shine.
Meet the Steam Controller, Valve’s take on the whole hand-held gaming controller thing that, let’s face it, hasn’t really changed much in over ten years.
‘But where are the analog sticks?’ I hear you cry. ‘Where are the buttons?’ In an attempt to find a middle-ground between the accessibility of a living-room controller and the multi-functionality and accuracy of the mouse and keyboard, Valve are eschewing the long established standard approach of just covering a handle with buttons and triggers, instead utilising two large circular trackpads and a central touch-screen.
Just like the Steam OS, Valve is promising that even its controller will be hackable, encouraging their users to tinker around with both the software and hardware aspects of their new design. Their intial statement was rather cryptic and open to interpretation – “We plan to make tools available that will enable users to participate in all aspects of the experience, from industrial design to electrical engineering.”
What this means? I’m not overly sure, but I’m more excited by what followed. “We can’t wait to see what you come up with.”
No price has yet been announced for the rather owlish-looking controller, but with a touch-screen interface and something very technical that Valve is calling “dual linear resonant actuators”, I’m not expecting it to be cheap. On the other hand, this is Valve we’re talking about, so making any kind of prediction is about as sensible as nailing treacle to a duck.