The Steam Controller: How Valve is building a new way to play games

By Kirk Hamilton on January 10, 2014, 1:15 AM

Valve has been in the software business for a long time, and they've gotten pretty good at it. In 2014, the PC gaming giant will be launching their first official piece of hardware: The decidedly odd, innovative Steam Controller. What will happen when a company steeped in software releases their first piece of hardware? No one -- including the people making the controller -- is quite sure.

During a brief presentation, Valve head Gabe Newell unveiled 13 Steam Machines prototypes from various third-party developers. Also on hand were several of the Valve-designed Steam Machine prototypes, complete with prototype controllers, both of which have already been sent out to 300 beta testers.

It was my first chance to try out Valve's interesting, thumbstick-less controller, and I came away intrigued.

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User Comments: 7

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hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Poor Claire. She has no idea what she's gotten herself into.

Steam Box makes as much sense as bringing back the Sega Dreamcast and charging over a grand for it.

theBest11778 theBest11778 said:

Poor Claire. She has no idea what she's gotten herself into.

Steam Box makes as much sense as bringing back the Sega Dreamcast and charging over a grand for it.

I agree at the moment. The free for all, build whatever you want, and throw a Steam Machine logo on it won't last. Steam is probably figuring this out internally. There needs to be definitive hardware standards that CANNOT change throughout a certain period of time. This will allow developers to know what boundaries they're working with. Steam would be wise to set a flat CPU minimum standard for both AMD and Intel expecting developers to design for the bottom Something like an AMD A10 and Intel Core i3 Minimum would make sense. Then set GPU minimums set for certain resolution targets. For example make a minimum GPU for 720p, 900p, 1080p, 1440/1600p, & 4k/UHD (in the future.) This way marketing can set each machine to run at a rated resolution. Cheap machines would be geared towards 720p (your $500 machines, that's all the XBO can really do anyway.)

This would set standards that developers can work with. There're still a lot more options than standard consoles, but without standards developers will continue developing PC titles as usual because they have no idea what their users are running.

ken neuts said:

Too bad steam support system is so bad, I will start boycotting steam because they can't give any support.

JC713 JC713 said:

This is like the nvidia Shield. It looks clunky and can use some ergonomic upgrades. Like look how far the Xbox and PlayStation controllers have come. It takes some work to get them perfect. Great start.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Thats only because you have gotten used to the shape of the XBox and PlayStation controllers.

People get used to the shape of knife handles. Anything else feels foreign to them, until they get used to the changes. The same is being said for Windows 8, but I'll be damned if I settle for what is offered. This Steam controller on the other hand is at least aesthetically pleasing to my eyes. At first glance, I don't know if I would warm up to how it feels. I'm at least willing to give it a try. Couldn't be much different than changing to a new mouse.

GhostRyder GhostRyder said:

Meh, im not sure what still to think of this controller. I think it sounds cool and looks cool, but I have yet to be able to put one in my hand and see how it reacts and feels. I can't personally make a judgement, but I do think on looks alone its got an odd look about it that makes me wonder how I or another user would hold it and how responsive its going to be.

Cheap machines would be geared towards 720p (your $500 machines, that's all the XBO can really do anyway.)

That's so wrong that's not even funny, im guessing you don't own an Xbox ONE or you have not read much on it if your saying 720p is all it can do.

Guest said:

They could also just grade the machines like 'Steam Machine: Diamond Class' 'Steam Machine: Platinum Class' etc down to 'Steam Machine: Bronze Class'. (Achievement Unlocked: Join the Diamond Class!) Then, on the Store list, the games could indicate the lowest/recommended category of steam machine required to run them. People could also browse the recommended games for their system class.

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