Valve will allow multiple manufacturers to produce Steam Machines, but its unique controllers are an in-house affair only.
“The controller is going to be a Valve product.We’re going to manufacture it. We’re going to supply all the people who are making third party Steam Machines with controllers,” he said.
“It’s not really because we’re super anxious to get in the hardware business and we think it’s the best way to turn 90 degrees and start racing toward success in hardware and making money in that way. It’s really because we want the controllers to exist.
“We want them to have the attributes that we think are important, that allow people to play all the games on Steam, and we didn’t think that it was really going to be possible to outsource the design for manufacturing and the finishing of the controller in a way that would allow third parties to take from us an idea or a reference design and bring it to market soon enough.
“We just think that, for now, at least, we have to do that ourselves. So we’re going to be doing high volume production of the controller for ourselves.”
Valve doesn’t expect to turn a profit on the controllers, which represent its very first step into mass hardware production – a costly decision.
“We’re making a lot of decisions that are not actually optimized for cost. We’re not going to lose money when we go make the controller. We have enough confidence around that, that we’ve thought through the manufacturing. But we’re also not looking at it the same way that typical hardware manufacturers would look at it,” he said.
That said, Coomer believes Valve has made some smart decision with its controller; the shift from physical analog controls to haptic touch pads will save money, he said. The unusual inputs seem to work really well in this Steam Controller demo featuring Portal 2, Civilization 5 and more.
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