Even though the Game Developers Conference only starts next week in San Francisco, Valve has decided to present the redesigned steam controller before the event.
Valve must have figured out that the world is not quite ready for touch screens on game controllers, even though PS4’s success might suggest that. In fact, it ditched that feature right after exposing the concept, as the first versions included some square buttons instead of the tactile displays. The new version (or rather versions, since Valve means to exhibit not less than 10 hand-built iterations of the redesigned controller at GDC 2014) features normal buttons and a D-Pad. This takes away a bit from the originality of the initial design, but attests the fact that Valve is receptive to its customers’ feedback.
The video game developer and distributor promises to not go unnoticed at this year’s Game Developers Conference: “For those of you able to attend GDC next week, please drop by our booth, as there will be some demo stations set up with the latest prototypes for play testing and feedback gathering. For those of you not able to attend GDC, for now we wanted to at least share a photo of the latest design changes.”
Steam Controller’s new design makes the device similar to the one found on Xbox consoles. Sure, the version including a touch screen seemed a bit ahead of its time and would have placed Valve at the top of the chart in terms of innovation, but most gamers still prefer hardware buttons. Mind you, the two touch surfaces from the sides are still there, so Valve didn’t give up entirely on its initial design.
In the middle of the controller there is a logo-emblazoned glowing home button that is flanked by a Start and a Select button. A bit lower are the D-pad on the left and the A, B, X, Y buttons on the right. While the current iteration looks more like what we call a controller, it might take a while until Valve settles for a design.
It’s a known fact that Valve will enable users to upgrade their Steam Machines once these become available. While this is a great idea that would help the company distinguish itself from other console makers, some people believe that creating a standardized hardware configuration for most if not all of the Steam Machines could help game developers figure out what gaming technologies to focus on.