Valve Changes Steam Controller to Add a Thumbstick
The Steam Controller was one of three new Steam-themed projects that Valve announced last fall and it’s undergone a lot of testing and revising since the initial announcement. While it hasn’t been officially revealed, the latest Steam client beta was mined for data and it looks like the next iteration of the Steam Controller prototype will swap out the d-pad for a thumbstick.
If you recall last September’s announcement, the original concept for the Steam controller saw the two touchpads, seven small buttons on the face and a touchscreen occupying the centre of the controller. Ahead of this year’s Game Developers’ Conference, the touchscreen was dropped with Valve including a four-button touchpad to go with A, B, X and Y buttons. In other words, it was a compromise between the innovative original controller design and a more traditional layout.
The latest concept, if the leak holds true, will go even more to the typical controller layout than the previous concept. The four-button d-pad will be replaced by a thumbstick. It’s not a big change but it is noteworthy for the fact that it likely means that testers, developers and the press aren’t entirely ready to let go of what they know and expect from game controllers. Granted, I was never a fan of Valve’s version of a d-pad and would have preferred something more traditional.
With this latest change, though, I have to wonder if Valve is getting a little too conservative. While gamers can be resistant to change, they are willing to stomach change is it’s not a blatant cash grab. Look at all the talk about the Xbox One’s DRM and “resistance to change” if you want that spin on resistance to change. Me? I was excited for the Steam Controller ten months ago. I did call it the first major controller innovation in 16 years. I just hope that Valve doesn’t go back on all the new concepts before the final release.