Unveiled today, this is one of the major announcements coming our of Steam as they make a push to compete in the living room arena currently occupied by game consoles. Following the reveal on SteamOS and Steam Machine program, now we know how you’ll control and interact with your games from the couch.
This owl-like pad features two clickable high-resolution touch sensors in lieu of traditional analog joysticks. Traditional triggers and buttons flank the sensors, and new haptic feedback sensors should improve upon the current force rumble we’re used to today. Valve claims that this setup should be more sensitive and accurate than current controller tech, and should close some of the gap between controller gamers and the advantage that Mouse+Keyboard gamers enjoy.
A screen in the middle of the controller feeds info to the player, and the entire surface is one large button. Instead of a touchscreen which could be accidentally brushed by the player, to engage with single functions, the entire surface requires enough force to click it.
Lastly, Valve is touting a high degree of compatibility and hackability. It’s currently compatible with any version of Steam, and will obviously work with SteamOS and Steam Machine products released in the future. A new set of APIs will be made available to developers once the controller leaves BETA. Plus Valve will make select tools available to consumers allowing them to participate in hardware hacking and design.
The design is already proving somewhat controversial in discussion online. I’ll be curious to try it out as I feel dual analog sticks slow me down (WASD FOR LYFE!), so if Valve as found the trick to smooth out that experience then sign me up!