VR World

GDC 2014: Hands On with Valve's New Steam Controller

Today while exploring the floor of the 2014 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, we stumbled upon Valve’s Steam Controller booth where they were demonstrating their Steam Machines running various Steam titles with their latest iteration of the Steam Controller which they had only updated a few days ago. Today was actually the first day that the expo floor was open so not many people actually knew that Valve was showing this on the floor at their booth, much like Sony is with their Morpheus VR headset announced yesterday and Oculus is with their Rift DK2 which they only announced today. We’ll have articles for those following this one.

We’ve got a video for you, followed by detailed photos below:

Now, getting back to the Steam Controller. First, the Steam Controller was not wireless, but rather wired directly into the Steam Machines box via USB as you can see below.

Once we started playing with it a bit, we noticed that the button placement itself was better than it was on the previous version, but it was still more awkward than actually using the capacitive touch sensors. And that the entire casing of the controller was made using an SLA 3D printer.

As you can see, the dpad buttons are on the left while the standard YBAX buttons are on the right, but still very centered, making them a bit hard to press when compared to the relative comfort of the touchpads. There is also a Steam button in the center, which I didn’t actually press for fear of breaking the demo but I can only assume would bring up the ‘Big Picture’ mode in SteamOS or anyone using Steam on a PC.

There are also media buttons to the left and right of the Steam button in the center with the play button being on the right and the stop button being on the left. This would imply that Valve also intends this to be somewhat of a media controller, which isn’t necessarily far fetched, except for the lack of support for video in SteamOS for now.

The bottom also is how users will be able to access their batteries as well as press the bottom two buttons which are both very comfortable to use and become a bit weird not to have after a bit of gaming using this controller.

There are also two triggers, both left and right as well as a top left and top right bumper. And the USB port is still located centrally right between them.

Below, you can see the controller in-hand and the relative size to my hand. It felt comfortable in my hand and the capacitive sensors/wheels that you see were hypersensitive to my touch to the point where they almost engaged before I touched them. This is probably something that Valve needs to tune themselves until they get it to the right point, but this is very beta hardware as we found out that these controllers are only about a week old.