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Valve Steam Controller revealed

Valve has revealed its third Steam Machines-related announcement, showing off a controller designed specifically for playing PC games

Following on from its SteamOS and Steam Machines reveals earlier in the week, Valve has just unveiled the Steam Controller, an official gamepad designed to let gamers enjoy PC games from the sofa.

Although many PC games support Microsoft’s official USB Xbox 360 controller, some are designed purely for mouse and keyboard. That’s where the Steam Controller comes in – it has twin trackpads in place of analogue sticks or buttons that “allow far higher fidelity input than has previously been possible with traditional handheld controllers”. Each one is clickable, letting it act as a button as well as a control surface. They also double as speakers, using “a higher-bandwidth haptic information channel than exists in any other consumer product that we know of” that adds a greater sense of feedback than any kind of force feedback controller to date.

Steam Machine controller

A touch screen in the centre of the controller will assign shortcuts to each of its four corners in certain games, or allow for any number of virtual buttons to mimic the ones on a keyboard. The whole screen acts as a physical button too. When players interact with the touchscreen, a transparent version of its interface is overlaid on the main TV screen, so you don’t have to keep looking down to see where your buttons are.

Twin triggers and shoulder buttons also make an appearance, as do four face buttons dotted around the touch screen and two larger ones on the back for a total of 16 separate buttons. Half can be accessed without removing your fingers from the touchpads, and are placed symmetrically for both left- and right-handed gamers.

Although it will almost certainly ship as part of the Steam Machine beta consoles, which were previously known as the Steambox, the Steam Controller will also be available on its own and Valve has promised absolute compatibility with all versions of Steam. It is able to switch to a Legacy mode for games not designed for controller support, effectively mimicking a keyboard and mouse, and a community profile manager will let gamers swap setups for specific games.

Steam Controller

The Steam Controller is still very much a prototype, and will be going through several rounds of beta testing. If you want want to be in contention to try one, you must sign up to the Steam Universe community group, agree to the hardware beta terms and conditions, have at least 10 Steam friends, a public community profile and play games with a gamepad on Big Picture mode. If you’ve already followed these steps for the Steam Machines beta, there’s no need to do it a second time.

We’re expecting to hear more in the coming weeks regarding Valve’s design plans, along with prices and release dates, but in the meantime you can find out more as the company reveals all on the Steam Universe community forum. you can find out more about Valve’s Steam Machines and SteamOS plans at our News hub

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