Valve has revealed the Steam Controller, a new gamepad designed to play all Steam titles in the living room. “We set out with a singular goal: bring the Steam experience, in its entirety, into the living-room,” Valve said, in part. “We knew how to build the user interface, we knew how to build a machine, and even an operating system. But that still left input — our biggest missing link.”
The Steam controller will support the full catalog of existing Steam games, even those that were not created with controller support. It features 16 buttons, a pair of trackpads with haptic feedback, and a touch screen. Users can also customize the bindings for their games. “We have built in a legacy mode that allows the controller to present itself as a keyboard and mouse. The Steam Community can use the configuration tool to create and share bindings for their favorite games. Players can choose from a list of the most popular configurations.”
Valve also says the trackpads on the controller allow “far higher fidelity input than has previously been possible with traditional handheld controllers,” and the controller’s resolution is closer to that of a desktop mouse. The implementation of haptic feedback to each trackpad using electro-magnets allows a wide range of force and vibration to be delivered to the user allowing precise control of frequency, amplitude, and direction of movement.
“This haptic capability provides a vital channel of information to the player – delivering in-game information about speed, boundaries, thresholds, textures, action confirmations, or any other events about which game designers want players to be aware. As a parlour trick they can even play audio waveforms and function as speakers,” Valve added.
The controller was “designed from the ground up to be hackable,” and Valve plans to make tools available to users so they can “participate in all aspects of the experience, from industrial design to electrical engineering.”
This is the last of three Steam-related announcements made this week, following SteamOS, a free linux-based operating system and Steam Machines, a line of living room hardware various manufacturers are working on for release in 2014.