While you weren’t looking, the Steam controller and the Xbox 360 controller had a baby.
Before we saw any official images of Valves Steam boxes we were shown the controllers. These gamepads were intended to be Valves answer to, and replacement for, the Xbox 360 controller that has now become the standard for non-keyboard PC gamers. Steams version, however, received either negative or inquisitive responses from most people. The dual non-tactile joysticks, the center touch-screen, and the oddly placed buttons conflicted with Valves claims that this design was the end result of countless prototypes and fueled by tons of research on ergonomics. Luck gamers who have since had the opportunity to try the Steam controller had not been so impressed as to throw away their Xbox gamepads, but most have said it’s a very good start.
Based on user feedback, Valve has announced a brand new re-design of the Steam controller (seen above). The current shape is basically identical to the that of the old controller, except that it is said to be a little wider. The control layout resembles the Xbox template very closely, right down to the orientation of the X, Y, A, and B buttons. The only big difference is that those 4 buttons and located lower on the controller, where the right stick is on the Xbox pad. Hidden buttons on the handles and the top triggers look like they haven’t been changed at all. The Steam controllers analog joysticks are still smooth, touch-sensitive circles, but that’s now the only thing touch-enabled on the device. The center screen, which has since been adopted by Sony for the Playstation 4, is now gone and in its place appears to be a Steam “home” button and what looks like “play” and “stop” buttons. Also, Valve has elected to use a 4-button D-pad instead of a cross-type D-pad which as we all know can be very hit-or-miss and, in the case of Xbox, was a huge miss.
Valves announcement claims that they are currently building 10 of these controllers by hand to showcase at this years Game Developers Conference (GDC), which is scheduled for March 17-21 in San Francisco, California. Attendees to the event who visit the Valve booth may get a hands-on demo of the controller. No word yet on when we all can has the precious but me thinks it won’t be soon enough.
What do you think of the new controller compared to the old one? Let us know in the comments.