What the Steam Controller tells us about the way Valve works

Innovative genius or unusable white elephant, the Steam Controller has attracted plenty of commentary. Valve explains what it really means

In early February, there was a minor controversy surrounding the critically acclaimed strategy sim, XCOM 2. It turned out that the game, which most people play with a mouse and keyboard, would only be supporting one type of joypad: Valve’s idiosyncratic Steam Controller.

Launched in November alongside the new range of Steam Machine PCs, this ambitious and innovative control device has provoked a range of reactions – though confusion seems to be the most common. Featuring two large HD haptic track pads, a single analogue thumbstick and an array of buttons (including two on the inside edges of the pad’s handles), the Steam Controller is designed to bring the precision controls of the mouse/keyboard combo to a handheld form factor. Each of the touch pads, for example, features haptic feedback, allowing you to sense where your thumb is on the surface, rather like moving a mouse around on a desktop.

We’re very interested in trying to make hardware more like software

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