Valve Looks To Reinvent Gamepads With Steam Controller’s Dual Trackpads

Mihir Patkar 30-09-2013

After announcing the new free-to-download Steam OS Steam Introduces Free-To-Download SteamOS, Streams Windows & Mac Games Valve, the makers of Half-Life, have unveiled a new operating system meant for gamers: SteamOS. According to Valve, it's meant for "living room machines". Read More and giving a bit more information about the Steam Machine video game console, Valve has now revealed the last of its three announcements: a new game controller. The Steam Controller is unlike any gamepad you have seen before as it features dual trackpads and can work with any game that was traditionally designed for a keyboard and mouse.


The dual high-resolution trackpads claim to offer higher fidelity input than other gamepads, and are clickable to double up as buttons. “Steam gamers, who are used to the input associated with PCs, will appreciate that the Steam Controller’s resolution approaches that of a desktop mouse,”  Valve says.

The trackpads feature dual linear resonant actuators, which provide precise haptic feedback for force and vibration, delivering in-game information about speed, boundaries, textures, etc. And they can even play audio waveforms and function as speakers.


There are a total of 16 buttons on the Steam Controller, with a ‘legacy mode’ that allows it to present itself as a keyboard and mouse to support the full catalogue of existing Steam games, including its many awesome free-to-play titles A Selection Of The Best Free-To-Play Steam Games Content delivery service Steam is a real money-spinner for Valve, prompting publishers like EA to shy away from it in pursuit of their own system. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of free gems... Read More .

The middle of the controller is a touchscreen, which is also a clickable button to take action on whatever you see on it, such as a map or a radial dial. Just touching the touchscreen will have its display overlay on your monitor’s screen, letting you access the touchscreen without switching gaze between the controller and the screen.


And yes, like all things Steam, the Controller is completely open and hackable, so the community can think of ways to improve it. Right now, there’s no word on when the Steam Controller will be released or what its price will be, but you can head over to its official page to sign up to be a beta tester.

Source: Steam Controller

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  1. Jo-anne P
    October 1, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    I would give it a try and judge for myself but I am leaning towards the positive

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 1, 2013 at 5:12 pm

      Same here. I think it could be quite neat if it works like they say. Plus, some of the game devs who have used it have good things to say so far.

  2. Jack Russ
    October 1, 2013 at 11:13 am

    I agree with Eugene. I don't think I can enjoy this kind of pad.

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 1, 2013 at 11:16 am

      I think it's unfair to dismiss it without actually using it. Why have a preconceived notion about a technology none of us even knows?

    • Gravity D
      October 2, 2013 at 6:36 am

      well I kinda support both of your comments
      while at one hand Eugene and Jack says what I feel but at the other hand it not fair to reject it just by looking at it.

      what I mean to say is, may be this controller feels great (may even better than sticks) but it would never satisfy the thirst we have to smash sticks and buttons.

      e.g if you remember the time when there used to be flip phones, then you would also remember the way we used to hangup on others. |

      e.g 2. remember playing snakes on nokia, it is still more fun than most of the touch arcade games.

      but may be it is time to move on, but then there is xbox one and PS4 controller... so it will take another generation to adopt to these controllers.

  3. Yannis V
    October 1, 2013 at 8:04 am

    It's an interesting concept, which is why it leads some people to skepticism. The majority of gamers who grew up with consoles and PC are used to having that solid button feedback they get from game pads and mouse/keyboard.

    It will definitely take some getting used to but ultimately it might just be that evolution of the gamepad we haven't seen in years. It could also be a flop, who knows.

    What really has me concerned is the SteamOS itself. It's linux based which means it doesn't have that many games that natively work on it. Sure, this could be the beginning of a shift, which is Gabe Newell's goal given how much he supports linux as a game's platform. But what I'm worried about is that the adoption rate will be slow and that may lead to Valve's plans failing.

  4. Eugene Belyakova
    September 30, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Need buttons and sticks. This would be like playing on a phone.

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 1, 2013 at 11:15 am

      Perhaps try it out first? :)

  5. Old Flannel
    September 30, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    This will give you no feeling of control at all, you need something physical, something that pushes back and lets you know you're in an experience.

    plus it's steam which means kiss goodbye any consumer rights you thought you had.

    • James B
      September 30, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      Why do you think you need something that pushes back? You realise lots of people use a trackpad instead of a mouse, right? It seems a tad early to say the control style sucks without having actually tried it; seems like this is exactly the kind of thing they would have thought of when designing it, don't you? It's also got a good few months of beta testing before it'll be publicly released - if indeed it does feel crap, I expect it'll be rectified.

    • Bill Kracke
      September 30, 2013 at 3:26 pm

      I'm not familiar enough with Steam's consumer rights issues to comment on that (which seems to be the biggest concern), but I would stipulate that the wildly successful mobile device game market suggests that tactile feedback is not required.

      I see folks every day playing "dual-stick" games on a smooth glass surface.

      I'm curious if the concentric rings provide something additional that helps you "find your home row", so to speak.