Steam Controller overhauled, ditches touchscreen

Valve Steam Controller header hardware

Since its announcement back in September 2013, Valve has been iterating on their Steam controller prototype.

During the Steam Dev Days 2014 conference, Valve revealed that the latest prototype version has ditched the front touchscreen, and will now feature 4 traditional face buttons and a D-pad for backwards compatibility.

Breaking from convention, the Steam Controller uses touch sensitive and click-able trackpads in the place of traditional analogue sticks.

The controller will use AA batteries, which means rechargeable batteries shouldn’t prove a problem. No integrated batteries or charging options have been revealed yet.

Valve said that biometrics remain important to them, but the hands are not a good place to capture the biometric data. This could mean that biometric sensors won’t feature in the final Steam Controller design.

The controllers have gyroscopes built-in, presumably for motion sensing games. Valve is keeping Virtual Reality applications in mind with the Steam Controller development, an area that gyroscopic motion sensors will come in handy for gameplay.

The latest Steamworks Software Developer Kit (SDK) has implemented the Steam Controller API so that developers can get prototypes working with their games.

Valve says that more changes will be made to the prototype as they process feedback from the Steam Machine beta testing program.

The Steam controller will eventually be made available as a retail product, sold through the Steam Store, and bundled with Valve approved Steam Machines manufactured by third-parties.

All previous information should hold true for now: The controller packs in sixteen buttons, including two pressable by your fingers underneath the controller.

The controller’s software will revert to a default setup to mimic most of the functions of a keyboard and mouse in-game and this is a customisable setting. The trackpads can accommodate either right- or left-handed mouse users.

The controller is also said to be easily “hackable” and dismantled, according to Valve.

Valve says that the controllers should be available at the same time as its Steam Machines (expected for a 2014 launch) and they will play nicely with Steam clients on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

Valve hasn’t issued any new concept pictures and prototype pictures, so for now we’ll have to use our imagination – as Twitterer Leszek Godlewski did with his mock image below.

Steam Controller mock image

Steam Controller mock image

Below is an official shot of the original Steam prototype design, along with their initial proof of concept video.

Steam Controller - first prototype issued

Steam Controller – first prototype issued

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Steam Controller overhauled, ditches touchscreen

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