Login

Valve's revamped Steam Controller feels less traditional than it looks

dsc01441.0.jpg

Just a few short days after revealing its revamped Steam Controller, Valve is letting gamers and developers try it out for themselves on the GDC 2014 show floor. As Valve revealed last week, the new controller does away with the proposed touch screen and instead adds eight front-facing buttons, much as you’d see on an Xbox or PlayStation controller (the ABXY buttons mimic the size, layout, and general feel of the Xbox One controller). When asked about the touchscreen’s removal, a Valve representative told us that the company made the decision as a way to cut costs after tests revealed that users really didn’t need the flexibility that the touchscreen prototype offered.

There’s no doubt that the inclusion of these buttons made the Steam Controller a bit more friendly, and the placement seems logical — particularly in a game like Portal 2 where most of the interaction is with the touchpads and shoulder buttons. While we never got a chance to take the touchscreen out for a test drive (the prototype we tried back in November featured four rectangular buttons in place of the touchscreen), the ABXY placement on the new controller definitely appears more intuitive than it was on the original model.

Actually using those touchpads remains as initially tricky as it was when we first tried them out, but the potential remains for this to be a really new and interesting way of controlling a game. The lack of physical resistance is off-putting at first, as is the fact that there’s no natural "home" position for your thumb to snap back to — but thinking of it more like a mouse, with the precision aiming inherent to it, helped make it a bit more natural.

Unsurprisingly, the controller is still very much a prototype — a Valve representative told us that they were literally hand-building them five days ago for the show. As such, they are rather light and don’t feel solidly built — that said, the touchpads and buttons were all responsive despite the lack of polish. As for when we might see a more final version, all we know is that they’ll be ready alongside the first Steam Machines.

The Verge
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.
Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.