Why We Can’t Get Behind The Steam Controller

Senior Contributor
09.30.13 20 Comments


SteamOS and Steam Machines are a pretty big deal to gaming and are going to be a step forward for PC gamers. Then there’s the Steam Controller, which, uh, er, well, it’s… unique.

Bagging on a controller without touching it is unfair, and it’s not like Valve is doing something insane and wacky. Dual, clickable touchpads is not a bad input idea, although one has to question putting essentially everything on the top triggers and exiling the traditional four buttons to surrounding (ugh) a clickable trackpad. It will make games that aren’t traditionally living-room affairs easier to manage, although how Valve thinks your average RTS will be more playable on the couch without a magnifying glass is a mystery for the ages. And Valve did announce a gamepad tool to easily configure the Steam Controller and other devices.

No, the problem with the design is that it’s just somehow unsettling in that completely accidental way consumer products designed in a vacuum can sometimes be. It looks like David Cronenberg’s idea of a game controller. Nobody can seriously pretend their first thought, upon seeing this thing, wasn’t something along the lines of this:


Or, sticking with the Cronenberg theme, this:


Again, it is completely, 100%, absolutely unfair to trash a controller we haven’t touched yet. Valve has never gone wrong before and it’s not like we’re talking a Nintendo controller here. Still, if you go to try this thing out, run your thumbs across the touchpads, and it tells you to rub your thumbs in circles around them to “configure” it? Maybe consider using another controller.

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