For Valve, is the Steam controller both a blessing and a curse?

As excited as we may be about Steam machines democratizing PC gaming in the living room, there’s no question Valve’s new platform will encounter some obstacles on its road to success. Valve will have to persuade other developers to support a new platform, for starters, and it will be forced to work with hardware makers, particularly AMD and Nvidia, to ensure SteamOS gets top-notch driver support. On top of that, Valve will need to convince PC gamers to step out of their comfort zone and embrace a wildly different operating system without support for many familiar apps and games.

At the Game Developers Conference last month, I became aware of another potential bump on the road: the Steam controller.

The Steam controller has a unique design with dual touchpads instead of analog sticks or d-pads. Its design is supposed to let gamers play not just shooters, but also titles that traditionally require a keyboard and mouse. (Think Civilization V and Diablo III.) When Valve first revealed the Steam controller, it said the device’s dual touchpads have a much higher resolution than typical analog sticks. Thanks to a “new generation of super-precise haptic feedback,” the touchpads can also convey “speed, boundaries, thresholds, textures, action confirmations, or any other events about which game designers want players to be aware.” This video shows just how fast and versatile the Stream controller can be for a seasoned user.

On paper, that all looks great. Conventional console controllers are markedly slower and less accurate than a mouse and keyboard even in first-person shooters. The Steam controller promises not just to remedy that, but also to make a whole bunch of new games comfortable to play from the couch. 

But there’s a downside. As I learned first-hand, the Steam controller has a pretty steep learning curve—steep enough, I fear, to put off some potential converts.

Valve had several Steam machines set up at its GDC booth, all hooked up to the very latest Steam controller prototypes. Over a period of about 10 minutes, I gave the controller a shot in both Portal 2 and a Japanese-looking side-scroller whose name I can’t recall. In Portal 2, the Steam controller was so unlike anything I’d ever used that I was completely useless with it. Oh, the shape of the device was excellent, and the positioning of the buttons was great. But I could barely circle-strafe, and precise aiming was entirely out of the question. So was the kind of quick response needed to complete the next puzzle. All I could do was run around and try to get a feel for the elusive touchpad controls.

At this point, one of the Valve guys shepherding the demos told me I’d better not run Portal 2, since it tended to crash on the particular Steam machine I was using. So, I fired up the aforementioned side-scroller. There, the 2D environment made it easier to steer my character around, but I still had trouble with the sensitivity and response of the two touchpads. The main thing that threw me off, I think, was that the touchpads register absolute finger positions—not relative ones like the touchpad on a laptop might. Holding your thumbs in exactly the right positions with only a couple of concentric ridges for guidance is… tricky.

After getting myself killed a few times, I put down the controller and spoke with the Valve guy. Was I just uncommonly clumsy, I asked, or was the learning curve really so steep? To my surprise, he said it personally took him eight hours to get fully acquainted with the Steam controller. The learning process does vary from user to user, he added, and faster learners can apparently pull off the same feat in only 15 minutes. But based on my own experience, that probably requires some uncanny dexterity.

Even 15 minutes is a long time, though, especially for someone who’s used to instant familiarity with mice, keyboards, and conventional gamepads. A quick brush with a Steam machine at a store, a friend’s house, or some other venue might easily discourage a future purchase. If we’re looking at eight hours of learning time for a Valve employee, I worry that some folks will spend much longer wrestling with the thing. For a brand-new platform whose success will hinge on broad adoption, that’s not a good thing.

Simply plugging an Xbox controller into a Steam machine would take care of that problem. I’m sure Valve will make it possible. That said, an Xbox controller would also put players at a disadvantage in multiplayer skirmishes, where they’d likely fight PC players armed with keyboards, mice, and (yes) Steam controllers. An Xbox gamepad would also seriously limit the playability of Steam’s many point-and-click games—and one of the big selling points of Steam machines is their ability to bring those titles to the living room.

What does Valve think of all this? Well, the Valve guy I spoke to said the company is indeed concerned about the Steam controller’s steep learning curve—but it thinks the size of Steam’s current user base will work in its favor, and so will the Steam controller’s support for titles that can’t be played with conventional gamepads. In other words, it’s willing to gamble that the pros will outweigh the cons.

I suppose I can’t argue with that. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that one of the Steam machines’ hottest features may also be a barrier to their success.

Comments closed
    • Nutmeg
    • 5 years ago

    I think we’re just so used to the typical analog stick controller that we take it for granted, but go back to 1996 and you pick up an N64 controller for the first time, I bet it took a while if you had only ever used a d-pad.

    • Prion
    • 6 years ago

    2D games tend to be designed around 8-way digital controls for movement anyway, was the d-pad not suitable for this nameless game?

    • Bensam123
    • 6 years ago

    You just need to get used to it. 8 hours isn’t a long time.

    Buy a nostromo and use it for a bit. You’ll eventually get used to it, but it’ll feel weird and off at first. From personal experience though nostromos are still much better then keyboards.

    Input devices often times make you feel frustrated and off when using new ones because it’s essentially the source of your ability to do well in games. I’m sure if you turned the sensitivity down you would’ve done better as it’s more forgiving. One sensitivity setting doesn’t work for everyone.

    • mGuy
    • 6 years ago

    Valve should bundle with controller a couple of casual games designed to teach how to use it. The new user can get some positive feedback while learning the controller. I’m a PC gamer and remember how frustrating it was to try to play TF2 on the xbox. It turned me off to the console to this day.

    Microsoft did this with solitaire and minesweeper in widows. One to learn to point and click, one to teach left mouse right mouse clicks.

    • Xenolith
    • 6 years ago

    You can still use a mouse/keyboard. The controller will just be an option, so not a road block.

    • tipoo
    • 6 years ago

    [quote<]The main thing that threw me off, I think, was that the touchpads register absolute finger positions—not relative ones like the touchpad on a laptop might. Holding your thumbs in exactly the right positions with only a couple of concentric ridges for guidance is... tricky.[/quote<] I believe this will all be customizable. Even with individual settings for each side. Ie one could be relative (you want that for aiming in a FPS for example) while the other is absolute (you want that for movement in an FPS), or you can also set one or both to the trackball setting.

    • balanarahul
    • 6 years ago

    Any news on installing a real OS on PS4, the kind that runs LibreOffice and Firefox?

      • Mr. Eco
      • 6 years ago

      The one that has a name beginning and ending with ‘U’?

    • YukaKun
    • 6 years ago

    Steep learning curve? Nah, that’s just you getting old or just being unable to learn new stuff (not a troll, just… harsh and bully truth).

    I have been wishing for this type of input device since the first time I saw a touch pad on a notebook.

    Cheers!

      • indeego
      • 6 years ago

      [i<]> Nah, that's just you getting old or just being unable to learn new stuff (not a troll, just... harsh and bully truth).[/i<] Not sure what a bully truth is...Yeah so good luck getting 40%+ of your audience to adapt if this is the attitude you take. Technology forced down people's throats has just as much the ability to turn them off. I think Microsoft is well aware of this with Bob and Metro. "Just learn how to adapt to full screen apps, what's wrong with you!?"

        • YukaKun
        • 6 years ago

        I don’t know if you remember when you were a toodler and “new technology” was basically anything around you. New and shiny. Everything. Our parents didn’t know much of what was going around us tech-wise so we had to discover what we liked to use best, and some technologies were mandatory to learn in order to do certain things (I got to use a mouse at age ~9, MS-DOS 5.x and then 6.22 when I got my first computer, age 12). Had no issues learning it, when all adults were struggling with this new way to interact with it (old office folks with a keyboard only).

        My point is, just because you believe its hard to learn it, doesn’t means that new generation of people (kids, teens), with little tech baggage on their heads, will find it “hard” to understand and adapt. That’s why saying it has a “steep learning curve” is very self-indulging: there’s no way neither of us can measure it by ourselves. You need to put a kid (or a bunch of them) in front of it and let them use it. I’m sure we’ll be all amazed at how incapable we’ve become over the years to adapt and break some paradigms on how to control stuff.

        And a “bully truth” is a way of saying something bluntly that can be interpreted (specially on a faceless-post) as offensive with little to no merit on the context you provide such “truth”.

        Cheers!

          • indeego
          • 6 years ago

          It’s interesting that you list DOS, because I’m sure just as many kids your age passed it over as well. And just as many mainframe people and programmers (my mom being one of them) learned to adapt also. DOS didn’t stick, the interface was eventually hidden and then supplanted with a GUI-first attitude. Now how many phones Out Of the Box have CLI readily available?

          “My point is, just because you believe its hard to learn it, doesn’t means that new generation of people (kids, teens), with little tech baggage on their heads, will find it “hard” to understand and adapt.”

          And my point is that if you do not provide the proper “bridge” for the old/new generations, good luck getting entire markets to take hold while other technologies do exactly that. Apple provided a smartphone OS long after Microsoft and Blackberry had, but they did it wisely. Microsoft and Blackberry’s smartphones were clunky and ill-formed.

          I don’t know if this will take off or not, but if it doesn’t, and the control scheme is to blame, then that is one very large mistake made just to be “cutting edge.”

          There are loads of technologies that were adopted by “kids” that don’t make it into the marketplace, or stay relevant. This is why Facebook buys and bets on more than people using Facebook, they saw the writing on the wall 5-years ago, I imagine.

            • YukaKun
            • 6 years ago

            I actually used “DOS” because of the adult I was referring to were from MF. They hated when they had to click stuff, haha.

            And in regards to phones, I would say they’re a great example. The first blackberries were not hard to handle and guess who were the ones teaching the “adults” how to use them… Same as I see toodlers now grabbing smartphones and watching youtube like they have always known how to.

            Also, I don’t thing Apple did anything special with the touch aspect of the equation (input device: touch screen), just made a dumb-friendly UI phone OS. Valve can do that as well with SteamOS, I guess. That’s why I do not believe that the device itself has a “steep learning curve”, but I do agree when you say it will be up to Valve how they play it out. The basic idea behind a controller is… well… control, so if Valve makes a solid “controller” the rest will just come easily with how they integrate it with SteamOS (and games, of course).

            I do miss the idea of having a touch screen with programmable interface though; it had a lot of potential, but I do see why they moved away from it. Having too much options sometimes gets in the way (we could argue this one back to my main argument, haha).

            Anyway, I do understand why you make the argument of having a lot of risk involved, but we could go around and argue many choices on input that sound crazy, but they actually were great for most people (except unwilling gamers to shift paradigm). Think of the Wii. I do believe the nun-wiimote combo is a great input combination, but you NEED games to be developed around it or you’ll get half assed attempts of an input from them. Kinnect being the half assed attempt of input it is, the idea is neat and sound. There are hacks for it and make wonders as input (don’t recall who, but I remember it was a globe as complement that made Kinnect great).

            Cheers!

      • NeelyCam
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<]Steep learning curve? Nah, that's just you getting old or just being unable to learn new stuff (not a troll, just... harsh and bully truth).[/quote<] You don't know until you try it.

        • YukaKun
        • 6 years ago

        Yes, that is true. I am just extrapolating out of what I want from a touchpad. Have you used a Wacom board? Or a cheap-ass Genius one? haha.

        Even using 2 cellphones could emulate this idea. And it would be bluetooth! Well, not really…

        Cheers!

      • UberGerbil
      • 6 years ago

      “New” doesn’t automatically mean “better” especially when it comes to physical UI design. I’m not going to have an opinion until I actually try it, and I’m a little surprised someone who hasn’t tried it is so dismissive of someone who has. But only a little, because that’s a problem common to the very young.

        • YukaKun
        • 6 years ago

        And I wasn’t talking about if the device would be good or bad; I just pointed out that “learning curves” could not be generalized that easily when talking about an input device aimed for kids and teens. We old people have less adaptability to new stuff because of age. That is all the observation I am doing.

        Anyway, it is true I need to try it out. Like I said, I have been waiting for this controller to be available for a very long time. I will pass judgement if it is good or bad when I try it out.

        Cheers!

          • Cyril
          • 6 years ago

          [quote<]We old people have less adaptability to new stuff because of age. That is all the observation I am doing.[/quote<] I'm 28, FWIW. Not lining up for the early bird specials quite yet. 😉

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 6 years ago

    Give a mouse and keyboard to a console player and they are useless for some time FYI. Same as giving a traditional game pad to a PC gamer.

    I think that the learning curve is just indicative of how the controller exists in a new paradigm we aren’t used to yet.

    • Voldenuit
    • 6 years ago

    They should add a d-pad/analog mode to the controller, and hinge the circles so they can be pressed down on and used like an 8-way pad (perhaps withanalog sensitivity and more discrete directions).

    Switch between ‘trackpad’ and ‘d-pad’ behaviour automatically based on games and user setting.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 6 years ago

    I think the controller will be fine as there is always a learning curve when it comes to controllers. I know it took me some time to learn how to use the analog sticks on the first Playstation, the Nintendo N64, Xbox first gigantic controller, etc.

    I think if you are a casual console user you will always have that disadvantage. I am still pretty clumsy playing console games using any controller because M+KB are my primary input tools when playing games where as my buddy who plays nothing but console games cannot barely play FPS games on a PC.

    That being said I was able to get Portal down in less than 1/2 hour using the Steam controller. What I struggled with was how “jumpy” it felt because I was used to the analog stick type of precision

    Valve should have some type of training games using Portal to help people get used to the controller. Have like 5 levels that get progressively more advanced in movement so by the time you are at the end of the trainer you can effectively have mouse like responses that feel natural using the controller.

    • superjawes
    • 6 years ago

    I played FPSs on consoles for years, but now that I’ve been playing on PC, I have lost most if not all of my ability to aim with a right thumb stick.

    So this may not be an issue unique to the Steam controller. I think anyone expecting mouse-like precision is going to be surprised, and they are going to need to learn how it feels in the same way one has to learn how the right thumb stick feels.

    That’s not to say that it cannot be improved, though. One of the andvantages of a controller is analog input on the movement thumb (and something like [url=https://techreport.com/news/26283/aimpad-game-controller-ties-cherry-mx-switches-to-analog-input<]this[/url<] is very new). Perhaps Valve should compromise and make a non-ambidextrous controller. Let the movement default to a thumb stick while starting to introduce a touch pad for aiming. The familiarity might ease the learning curve.

      • NeelyCam
      • 6 years ago

      Console gamers are simply better than PC gamers, because console gaming is more difficult.

      None of you PC gamer losers could touch me if I played with a mouse.

        • NeelyCam
        • 6 years ago

        Ok, I’m losing my trolling powers..

          • Voldenuit
          • 6 years ago

          That’s a Neverending Story (II) moment right there. Instead of feeding trolls flames, you feed them love, then their guts twist and they die. Or something.

            • sweatshopking
            • 6 years ago

            HASN’T WORKED ON ME YET.

            • NeelyCam
            • 6 years ago

            <3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3

            • sweatshopking
            • 6 years ago

            awwww I love you too, Tiff!

    • tviceman
    • 6 years ago

    If it truly is “better” than a controller once the learning curve is overcome, I am willing to climb that mountain. I won’t give up a mouse and keyboard entirely, though.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 6 years ago

    [quote<]The main thing that threw me off, I think, was that the touchpads register absolute finger positions—not relative ones like the touchpad on a laptop might. Holding your thumbs in exactly the right positions with only a couple of concentric ridges for guidance is... tricky.[/quote<] I'm confused here. I think touchpads on a laptop register absolute, not relative. Ie if I touch the top right corner of my touchpad with my finger, the mouse cursor will abruptly teleport to the top right of the screen. This is an "absolute" coordinate relationship, a one-to-one representation between my touchpad and the monitor. A "relative" coordinate relationship is best described by, say, swiping your iPhone home screen left or right. In this case, it doesn't matter where you place your finger, only how much distance it travels [i<]relative[/i<] to the "dead zone" of the home screen. Can you clarify your point, Cyril? Or maybe somebody with experience on using a controller try to explain?

      • emorgoch
      • 6 years ago

      That’s not the behaviour I’ve seen on most laptop trackpads. Usually the are relative by default, where the cursor stays in its position regardless of where you touch and move relative to how you move your finger.

      However, I have seen some where the software drivers allow you to set them to be absolute instead.

        • ssidbroadcast
        • 6 years ago

        … oh my God you’re right. I just tested it now (original post was written on an iPhone) and sure enough, the trackpad is relative. My mind is blown. Apologies to Cyril. When did this shift to relative happen? I seem to recall absolute coordinates being the norm for trackpads.

          • emorgoch
          • 6 years ago

          No clue. For the 10 or so years that I’ve used laptops, the trackpads have always defaulted to relative. And as far as I can remember, the P2 366 laptop my dad many moons had was also relative based.

          • Voldenuit
          • 6 years ago

          I thought absolute trackpads were called… touchscreens?

          • tipoo
          • 6 years ago

          At least the last 15 years. We’re so glad you came back from the coma 😛

          If you think about it, taking multiple swipes to get across a screen (which I’m sure everyone is very familiar with doing) would not exist if that was so.

    • DPete27
    • 6 years ago

    Anybody know if there’s a windows driver for the steam controller to plug into a PC? I know it would be a small audience (not that the steambox audience isn’t already small), but purchasing a steam controller is much less of a financial commitment than a whole console that’s essentially the same as your gaming rig (just with a different OS). I think I can speak for everyone when I say I’m much more apt to make an exploratory purchase of a steam controller than the whole console.

    Getting enthusiasts excited about the steam controller would be great for marketing since those are the people that will likely champion its adoption.

    [Edit:] I suppose you could just install the steam OS on your PC and use the controller, but that requires extra work. I suppose they wouldn’t want to cannibalize their OS by allowing people to use it in Windows.

      • MrJP
      • 6 years ago

      It’s dead in the water if it doesn’t work in Windows. SteamOS is going to account for a very small minority of Steam users for the foreseeable future.

    • daviejambo
    • 6 years ago

    I was playing BF4 on the big screen with a controller last night funny enough

    Was not a disadvantage at all

      • Meadows
      • 6 years ago

      That’s because everyone else has the same handicap.

        • daviejambo
        • 6 years ago

        PC version ? Doubt it

          • sweatshopking
          • 6 years ago

          The tests with shadow run suggest otherwise.

      • Prestige Worldwide
      • 6 years ago

      You must be equally bad with mouse / kb and controller then

      lel

        • HisDivineOrder
        • 6 years ago

        Perhaps he plays a lot of vehicle driving? 😉

      • hubick
      • 6 years ago

      I play BF pretty much exclusively, Vietnam through BF2 on the PC, then switched to the living room and the 360 for BF2, BC2, and now BF4 on the PS4.

      I’d love a couch friendly controller to enable me to switch back to the power of the PC and a 4K TV in my living room.

      I just can’t see this Steam Controller really being *that* good against competitive mouse and keyboard players?

      As Meadows said, we all have the same handicap on consoles, but if they dump everyone together on Steam, I don’t expect a good experience for controller players. I guess we’ll see 🙁

    • Meadows
    • 6 years ago

    How big is this thing exactly? I expect thumb strain if reaching for those arrow+ABXY buttons often. The whole contraption looks like a pain in the …hand to hold and use.

    The dual touchpads are a great idea to solve a ripe old console gaming problem though, and I applaud them for that.

    • ronch
    • 6 years ago

    [quote<] On top of that, Valve will need to convince PC gamers to step out of their comfort zone and embrace a wildly different operating system without support for many familiar apps and games.[/quote<] This. I'm not gonna ditch Windows 7 for SteamOS or Linux in general. 1. Linux distros are generally buggy, no matter how much Linux fanbois defend their favorite distro. Ok, maybe Valve's sorted things out with SteamOS but I'm sure there are still a billion bugs lurking about. 2. If AMD can't perfect their Windows drivers which they've been working on for eternity, what makes you think they'll perfect their Linux drivers this century? 3. That controller doesn't look like I, as a gamer, will be happy using it. 4. I'm totally not gonna ditch all my existing Windows apps for a gaming box, nor am I gonna buy another PC that's being sold off as a Steambox. If I want a computer that does nothing but play games, I'm gonna get a PS4 or Xbone. So there.

      • thor84no
      • 6 years ago

      1. Being a heavy user of both Linux Mint and Windows 7, I must say I don’t really find modern versions of Linux any buggier than Windows. It’s not like either is bug free by any stretch, but both are very stable and let you do pretty much what you want to do without issues 99% of the time. Having just yesterday gone through the sheer horror of reinstalling Windows (on an SSD, and the bastard thing wouldn’t work until I physically disconnected EVERY drive other than the one I was installing to) on my home computer I can assure you, Windows has its fair share of issues.

      2. Yes, they’re crap with drivers and I’m sure their Linux drivers will keep lagging behind for ages. Good thing I have an nVidia card I suppose. I also believe steam boxes are designed around nVidia cards for the most part, not AMD.

      3. That controller looks like I, as a gamer, will prefer it over the XBox 360 controller that keeps trying to kill my thumbs. Choice is good.

      4. Who is asking you to ditch Windows? This whole thing is aimed at replacing your console, not your desktop. How is having the option to *build your own console* a bad thing?

      Edit: grammar.

        • sweatshopking
        • 6 years ago

        I wish I could ever get Linux mint to install. Tried 7 times. Failed everyone.

    • BlackStar
    • 6 years ago

    If this allows me to play Diablo 3 on my couch, count me in.

      • sweatshopking
      • 6 years ago

      A ps3 or 4 allows you to do that…

        • thor84no
        • 6 years ago

        A PS3 or PS4 costs more than installing Steam OS on my old computer (that I don’t use anymore) and buying this controller. Not everyone owns or wants one just because they have a game or two they’d like to play.

          • ClickClick5
          • 6 years ago

          Or get a PS3 or 360 controller. None of this is new people.

            • sweatshopking
            • 6 years ago

            exactly. steam os brings nothing new to pc gaming, except worse drivers and storefront lock in.

            • thor84no
            • 6 years ago

            “Just use a PS3 or 360 controller” just isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. In fact it isn’t even a solution to this specific problem since there is no support for a controller on the PC version of Diablo 3 (and no, buying a console and then a second copy of the game is not a reasonable or sensible way of getting around this). Now expand this to the myriad of other PC games I own that this controller could work with that a PS3 or 360 controller wouldn’t work with and really, it seems like it’d be worth a punt, learning curve and all. Sure, it’s not really known how well it’ll work, but that’s a terrible reason to NOT make one.

            • tviceman
            • 6 years ago

            Can’t the steam controller be mapped to mouse controls, though?

            • sweatshopking
            • 6 years ago

            Any controller can. I’ve played plenty of games using mapping software.

            • thor84no
            • 6 years ago

            I tried that recently with Fable I and a 360 controller. It was an absolute nightmare.. It “worked” in a manner of speaking, but it was incredibly unresponsive and difficult to use. What software do you use for mapping that doesn’t make you want to kill the controller with a blowtorch?

            • sweatshopking
            • 6 years ago

            I used xpadder, and I never had any unresponsiveness at all. Worked like a dream. I used it to play oblivion back in the day.

            • HisDivineOrder
            • 6 years ago

            Diablo 3 for PC doesn’t support controllers.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 6 years ago

            yeah but this Steam controller is supposed to work like a mouse, so maybe it’ll “work” assuming Windows drivers, but I’ve played Diablo with a touchpad before – no fun.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 6 years ago

          Good luck getting Diablo 3 to work under Steam OS. The cost of a Windows license is going to be required.

            • thor84no
            • 6 years ago

            I’d assume he already has a PC version of it or he’d get a console version of the game. If he has a PC version of D3, he most likely has a Windows computer as well, and the Steam OS streaming thing is actually surprisingly good (assuming you have a decent network).

            • derFunkenstein
            • 6 years ago

            My point is Steam OS doesn’t help you play Diablo, so if you’re building a new PC as a Steam Machine you need another Windows license.

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 6 years ago

      Well, it won’t.

      • joe655
      • 6 years ago

      You can do this now with Pinnacle Game Profiler or Xpadder. Pinnacle has a few extra features that make it feel more like playing a console (imo).

    • Ninjitsu
    • 6 years ago

    Interestingly I still suck at shooters with a conventional game pad, even though I’ve played quite a few of them on consoles of friends over the years.

    I can play games like Sleeping Dogs or Batman Arkham Something fairly well though. However, i had to switch to kb/mouse in all the shooing sequences in Sleeping Dogs.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 6 years ago

      People say that you can’t control games like Assassin’s Creed or Saints Row with a kb/m, but I’ve beaten both and enjoyed them immensely on kb/m.

      I’ve rather rusty on a controller as a result. Games that seem to truly require controller (to me) are sidescrollers, fighters, and racing games (mostly because I lack a steering wheel). That said, I think what Valve wants to do with the Steam controller is a great idea. I’d be tempted to use such a controller to control OTHER games when using a HTPC to game on my home theater.

      It’s rather limiting to play only games that feel good with a controller. Especially to me. But I suspect that’s true of a lot of games for other gamers, too.

      Steam wants to open it up so you have Civ V feeling not horrible on a couch without a kb/m. It’s also hard to imagine four people playing the same game splitscreen with each one having a kb/m of their own, right? Not a common scenario, admittedly, but possible. I welcome new and different control methods as options as long as they are not required.

      Since they still fully support PS3 and 360 controllers, it seems like they’re hitting all types of users. If you don’t want to use a Steam controller… don’t.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 6 years ago

    Pretty sure it was Strider they had on demo?

      • Cyril
      • 6 years ago

      Ah, yes, I think that might have been it.

    • Deanjo
    • 6 years ago

    Personally for me, pretty much any game pad feels clumsy to me. For me most just don’t “feel right”. Guess I’m just an old arcade joystick aficionado at heart.

    • nanoflower
    • 6 years ago

    I remember reading and hearing from people that tried to play games like Civ V using the Steam controller. While it can be made to work it’s clumsy in comparison to something like a keyboard and mouse. One comment I read said that it seemed awkward even for the Valve guy they were watching. Seems like Valve is trying to come up with a single solution for every game and coming up a bit short.

    I’ve been there before trying out different mice to see which one I wanted to buy. If one didn’t feel right I immediately moved on. I can’t see this controller being any different except in the case of someone buying it for you. In that case maybe somebody would be willing to take the time to learn how to use it but everyone else is likely to try it and move on if they dislike it. I would have to imagine Valve is aware of the issue. Maybe they hope that they can just win people over by continually pushing just how great their new controller is?

      • thor84no
      • 6 years ago

      I don’t think it’s entirely fair to compare it to mouse and keyboard. Steam OS and by extension many/most Steam boxes will support mouse and keyboard. If you want to use that, you can use that. The controller is for people who for whatever reason don’t have the room or inclination to use a mouse and keyboard – this is designed as a console replacement for the living room after all. As such, I think it should be compared to its real competitors, the XBox/PS controllers, not keyboard and mouse. In that department they’ve gone for something new, something that has the potential to allow you to play games designed for mouse and keyboard without tearing your eye-balls out. How well it’ll work remains to be seen, but I’d be happy to go through a bit of a learning curve to have an alternative input form like that if it can just live up to that promise.

      • Great_Big_Abyss
      • 6 years ago

      I would LOVE for there to be a solution to couch gaming.

      I’ve given up my main gaming rig (for various reasons I won’t get into here) and now have a dedicated HTPC that is capable of playing any game I throw at it. Unfortunately, I’m currently limited to either an Xbox controller, an HTPC keyboard with touchpad built in (K400r) or a traditional wireless mouse and keyboard (with the mouse on the arm of the couch, not ideal!)

      Something like the Steam controller could make my life much simpler, and allow me to play the games I love (like Civ V). Is the steam controller necessarily it? I don’t know. Never tried it.

      Also, anyword on if the steam controller will be compatible with Windows? I might consider picking one up if it is, but I don’t think I’m ready to leave Windows and go full-steam-OS.

        • mcnabney
        • 6 years ago

        Dude, there are many ways to get a flat surface for mousing on the sofa.

          • Great_Big_Abyss
          • 6 years ago

          Yeah, I know, but they’re just not ideal. It’s never as nice as sitting at a desk with your mouse/keyboard on a flat surface. The point of couch computing is it’s supposed to be comfortable. Contorting yourself into weird shapes just so you can play some games is not my idea of a good time.

    • One Sick Puppy
    • 6 years ago

    Good commentary. Another thing that is potentially very important is the gamer’s ability to quickly switch from playing a game to typing a comment in a game’s chatbox. Granted, many users use headsets nowadays, but there’s still alot of people opting to type their dialogue… isn’t there? I remember the last time I played Team Fortress 2, the 3-4 seconds it takes to respawn is enough to type a quick blurb. I can’t see that being the case on the couch.

      • Deanjo
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<]Another thing that is potentially very important is the gamer's ability to quickly switch from playing a game to typing a comment in a game's chatbox.[/quote<] Only for those that do "online" gaming. Believe it or not, there still is a very large crowd that prefers the solo game.

        • ronch
        • 6 years ago

        I’ve never been a fan of online gaming. In fact, they turn me off. Just don’t feel like playing with other humans. Perfectly happy playing alone.

          • Sabresiberian
          • 6 years ago

          “Online gaming” encompasses a lot more variety than you seem to think. I’ve been playing PC games online for 15 years, and most of that is solo.

          MMOGs, for example, allow people to get together, but you can largely play all by yourself. 🙂

        • sweatshopking
        • 6 years ago

        Sure, its a large crowd, its just not the largest crowd. Cod doesn’t sell a billion copies for its awesome single player. Titanfall doesn’t even include one, and its the biggest game in a while.

          • Deanjo
          • 6 years ago

          And yet GTA blew by COD in sales. Must be for it’s great multiplayer right. You might want to take a look at the top 100 games sales from last year.

          [url<]http://metro.co.uk/2014/01/16/100-best-selling-video-games-of-2013-revealed-4265929/[/url<]

            • sweatshopking
            • 6 years ago

            first off, that’s UK, not globe, and second, yes? gta iv still has VERY active players online. i’m not sure what you’re point is. are you actually arguing more people don’t play online than do?? really?

            • Deanjo
            • 6 years ago

            GTA IV? Can’t even read I see.

            • sweatshopking
            • 6 years ago

            I can’t read? I said that even GTA IV still has lots of online players and its like 5 years old. What’s confusing about that? My assumption, as I don’t have a console, is that GTA v would have a pretty active multiplayer community since IV does, MEANING THEY ARE BUYING GTA V FOR ITS MULTIPLAYER.

            that list sucks anyway, FIFA was number two. You think that’s true internationally?

            • Deanjo
            • 6 years ago

            Not familiar with the tons of issues with GTA V and multiplayer I see. You assume wrong.

            • sweatshopking
            • 6 years ago

            I am not familiar, and neither are many of the people purchasing the game with expectations of multiplayer.
            your view is wrong. More people play online vs offline. Its not surprising or debatable. There are lots of people that play single player, there are just more that play with friends. Its not a personal attack.

            • Deanjo
            • 6 years ago

            [quote<]More people play online vs offline[/quote<] You have shown nothing to back that up. However the top games sales is loaded with games that don't even have a multiplayer component to them.

            • sweatshopking
            • 6 years ago

            Which top games? The top 5 all have multiplayer….

            • NeelyCam
            • 6 years ago

            Thou shalt not mention a console game in this forum.

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