Steam Controller gets face buttons in place of touchscreen, uses AA batteries

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 23:16 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Steam Controllers have had something of an overhaul, Valve announced during its Developer Days event today, ditching the touchscreen in favour of more traditional controls.

Although the Developer Days is a closed event, session recordings will be made available to the public at a later date, and as there’s no NDA, many attendees are tweeting or otherwise sharing news and announcements from the inside. According to SteamDB‘s round up, the Steam Controller is undergoing changes as Valve processes beta feedback.

The most significant change is the loss of the central touchpad, which would have been used to emulate a variety of controls, as customised by users or laid out by developers. To increase the controller’s backwards compatibility, it will now have a set of face buttons laid out like those on an Xbox or PlayStation controller, and a traditional D-pad is on the cards.

The final version of the controller is expected to use standard AA batteries, so the user can opt for a commercial rechargeable option.

The Steam API has support for up to 16 Steam Controllers at once, apparently; a cover version is already available in the latest Steamworks SDK.

There won’t be any biometrics on the pad, as hands aren’t the best place to capture that kind of data, Valve said, but it is future-proofing by keeping VR in mind while designing.

Steam Controllers were originally expected to be manufactured in-house only, but Valve has now said Steam Machine collaborators will be able to craft their own versions. Apart from the central touchscreen, their main differentiation is the use of twin haptic touchpads rather than sticks, something our hands-on test didn’t much approve of, and which Valve has admitted will likely never rival the keyboard and mouse for pro players.

The controllers are, of course, for use with Steam Machines, 13 of which were shown at CES 2014.

Thanks, Kotaku.

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