Different is the only way to describe the Steam Controller. Unlike the established "traditional" controller which has dual analogs sticks, triggers, shoulder buttons and the familiar ABXY buttons in a diamond, the Steam Controller eschews almost all of familiarity. In total, the Steam Controller has 16 buttons.
The Steam Controller is designed to rival high-precision gaming keyboards and mice. Instead of dual analogs, there are two dominating "circular trackpad" — with "high resolution and absolute position control." Each trackpad is clickable and has haptic feedback. Even crazier, Valve says the haptic-equipped trackpads can play audio waveforms and double as speakers.
Valve claims on its website the Steam Controller will allow PC genres that are normally best played with keyboard and mouse to work brilliantly.
In the middle, the ABXY buttons flank a small clickable touchscreen. Valve says all the buttons have been placed in a configuration that allows gamers to never have to lift their thumbs off the trackpads. On the back, are also two buttons.
Here's what a controller configuration for Portal 2 would look like:
Beta units that go out with the 300 prototype Steam Machines won't be wirleess or include the touchscreen, but final units will. Best of all, the Steam Controller is compatible with ANY version of Steam, not just the Steam Machines or Steam OS. And of course, Valve wants you guys to tinker with the controller to help them make it better.
A Steam Machine is one thing, but a new gamepad controller with low-latency that rivals a gaming keyboard and mouse? This one is completely from left field.
Between all the news from Valve on its new living room aspirations for Steam, we're starting to think the upcoming war between Xbox One and PS4 won't be a two-console race after all. Count the Steam Machines in the race — at least starting next year.