Following the announcements of the Steam OS operating system and Steam Machines hardware, Valve has revealed the Steam Controller. Through the three announcements, the developer of Portal and Half-Life is trying to bring the Steam experience to the living room.
The Steam Controller was designed to work with every single game available on the Steam service and interestingly, older games from the catalog or even titles that weren’t supposed to work with a controller will be compatible.
But what’s most interesting about this announcement is the design of the wireless device. First of all, there are no analog sticks. Instead, there are two clickable trackpads that use a technology known as haptic feedback. Valve implemented this technology to make up for the lack physical interaction and to create a controller that feels similar to using a traditional desktop mouse.
Here’s a more technical explanation:
“Trackpads, by their nature, are less physical than thumbsticks. By themselves, they are “light touch” devices and don’t offer the kind of visceral feedback that players get from pushing joysticks around. As we investigated trackpad-based input devices, it became clear through testing that we had to find ways to add more physicality to the experience. It also became clear that “rumble”, as it has been traditionally implemented (a lopsided weight spun around a single axis), was not going to be enough. Not even close.
The Steam Controller is built around a new generation of super-precise haptic feedback, employing 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.”
Apart from the pair of trackpads, the device also has a touchscreen. According to Valve, the touch surface was implemented to make sure that the controller supports every single title in their catalog. Finally, members from the Steam Community can share their favorite control schemes, so that other players can use them.
The Steam Controller will come with every Steam Machine, but it’ll also work on any version of Steam.