Valve has always been a company based on experimentation and it looks like the Steam Controller is not the lighthouse which guides SteamOS through the fog. Just a week after presenting the prototype at CES, a 3D mockup of a new one makes not-insignificant changes. Gone is the touchscreen and the first revealed button placement. Frankly, just about the only things untouched on the front face are the twin touchpads and the palm grips.
Image Credit: Leszek Godlewski (Twitter)
To fully understand the breadth of the changes, the announcement image is included below. There is basically no discussion about the back so that aspect might be untouched.
The changes were apparently made to assist compatibility with games ported from more traditional input schemes. Looking at the original prototype, there was no obvious mapping from a Sony or Microsoft-based controller to those buttons spread out for both the left and right thumbs to access. The new setup is the typical four face buttons on the right and four more buttons on the left as a surrogate directional pad. If they continue to iterate down this path I hope that the directional pad is more effective than most from the last two generations. It looks like the four directions are separated from one another which does not inspire confidence.
There are two stories which entangle on this one. The first is that Valve is willing to perform rapid iteration until they achieve what they consider a maximum. That is the method to quickest success especially since it allows cross-pollination between designs.
The second is that it also makes the public a little bit nervous.
Honestly I am somewhat
Honestly I am somewhat disappointed with this step back. The touch screen was an interesting idea. I understand the reason, to appeal more to the PS/XBox crowd. But still disappointed.
Maybe they should release both versions and allow the consumers the choice of what they would like more?
It would be nice to have the original idea on my PC for sure.
I wouldn’t call it a step
I wouldn’t call it a step back. Ever since they originally showed it, I thought it was odd to include the touchpad in the middle.The far left and right controls are touch pads themselves. Having a third was redundant. Now if it was the only touchpad like the ps4 controller it would be a step back by removing it.
There is not enough time for
There is not enough time for Valve to fully tweak its first generation controller, the SteamBox OEMs are chomping at the Bit to begin selling their products! The touch screen will have to wait for any next version of the controller!
Valve could release the SteamBox without the controller, as the SteamBoxes are PCs in their own right, and should work with any and all, but the most proprietary controller hardware. But valve promised a Steam Controller, and it would not be good to not deliver, so the BETA testing will continue until the design process is frozen, hopefully soon, and the first generation controller will ship. Maybe Steam should look into later designing some form of modular controller with updateable/changable/customizable hand grips, or different interchangeable parts buit around the dual track pads core.
I like the option.
I like the option. Personally, touchpads I’ve worked with tend to be flaky and tend to do things I don’t want them to. I shut them off on my laptops because they keep screwing with my typing, etc. I think good gamers may have similar issues.
Still, I think having separate offerings is still a good idea.
I’m looking forward to
I’m looking forward to playing with this controller. It looks very unique and I hope it opens up a lot of possibilities.
I don’t think removing the integrated touch screen will have too much of an affect. Touch screen on a controller they way it is designed seems odd with all the other touch stuff. Also, the lack of it, could contribute to less charging.
Opens up the door to more devices to work in concern.
It would be cool if they design the controller to add components. I can see a NVidia Shield “like” attachment with a touch screen to add display options. Or even a wrist watch or apps for mobile devices like smart glass that can be used instead. Oh course support in an SDK would be paramount for it to do any good.