Steam Controllers Due November 10th At £40/$49.99

I’ve heard good things about Valve’s Steam Controller gamepad from folks who’ve had a play on one, including our John, but I’ve still been sceptical. Can even fancy touchpads with haptic feedback come close to being okay as a mouse substitute? Watching a new demonstration video from Valve, I must say it looks better than I’d expected.

Oh, also: Valve have announced that it’ll cost £39.99/54,99€/$49.99, as will the in-home game streaming Steam Link box doodad. They’ll launch on November 10th, alongside a round of ‘Steam Machine’ pre-built PCs .

Valve’s Steam Hardware page has the deets on the initial offering. They’re already selling pre-orders for Steam Controllers and Link, naturally through Steam, and a handful will go out early on October 16th. Here’s that new trailer for the Steam Controller:

I really like that the Steam Controller seems a piece of pit designed so specifically for PC gaming, obviously drawing inspiration from Xbox pads but going beyond with features that have no function on a console – and don’t yet on PC, but could conceivably be useful. Trigger buttons which can have two actions assigned, one for soft press and one for a click, could be useful for loads of things. Clacker paddles on the back put unused fingers to work.

There’s no clear use for them yet, but folks will be able to assign buttons to whatever they please – I certainly find uses for extra mouse buttons – and through Steam’s social gubbins folks will be able to share and download profiles. I look forward to discovering some ingenious button layouts.

82 Comments

  1. Arehandoro says:

    Just pre-ordered both the controller and the SteamLink.

    I like the idea of the templates with the button’s configuration.

    • Alien says:

      Just bought a DS4 controller for pc-gaming (after years of consideration if I need a controller for pc); hmmm, maybe I should have waited for this so called “Steam Controller”…

      Nevertheless: The DS4 is great piece of hardware and the analog sticks are miles ahead of any other controller…

      • Arehandoro says:

        To be honest, I receive a Xbox 360 wired controller couple of days ago for the PC too. I should have waited too… Good thing is I can still use it with the RPi I have in the lounge for emulators.

        P.S: I chucked away the package the controller came with, could I still return it to amazon?

        • nasKo says:

          Yes, you can still return it. Though, depending on which country you are from, they might refund you a buck less or so.

      • Vandelay says:

        I got one a few months back myself. No idea how it compares to the steam controller, but versus other controllers it is wonderful. I’ve personally never got on well with the Xbox pads (and never liked the way Microsoft have all but forced it on us,) so I was glad to have such a good alternative.

  2. Cross says:

    It’ll be really interesting to see how this whole thing does, commercially.

  3. melnificent says:

    Preordered the controller. Maybe this will enable me to drop xpadder for strategy gaming on the sofa.

  4. Cockie says:

    …or €54.99, for EU peeps.

    • Pazguato says:

      Yes. More prices in euros, RPS, please.

      • Alice O'Connor says:

        I had a quick look, but the Steam site no longer lets you switch countries to quickly check out prices in other regions. I usually include Euros when I know it!

        I try to remember to mention Mac and Linux too.

        • Cockie says:

          I have the Enhanced Steam Chrome extension which allows you to see prices for stuff in all regions (if it works).

    • Saarlaender39 says:

      Yepp – €55,- OR $50,- …who finds the error?

      According to my currency converter $50,- should be appr. €45,-
      So – where does this €10,- difference come from?

      • Saarlaender39 says:

        Ah, wait…I think, I got it – it’s the VAT again, isn’t it!?

        • Cockie says:

          Yes, always the VAT. *Sad EU citizen*

        • tormeh says:

          BTW, do you need to pay VAT on Steam purchases if you’re in a US state that has VAT? Because some American states have VAT, right?

          • Chuckaluphagus says:

            Most states in the US have sales tax (our analogue to VAT), but only for purchases made in person at a store – very few apply it to purchases made via the Internet. So for most of us here, no, we pay no taxes on purchases from Steam.

          • dylnuge says:

            If you live in Washington (the state where Valve is located), yes, you pay WA state sales tax. Sales tax in the US is generally not directly applicable to internet sales if the company doesn’t have physical businesses in that state. In California (where I live) this means we pay sales tax on most things (e.g. Amazon has distribution centers here because it’s a huge state), but not Steam games because Valve (not needing physical distribution centers) only has their WA office (AFAIK; there may be other states that have to pay but not CA).

            There’s also something called “use tax” in many states which is the state’s way of trying to collect sales tax on things purchased online; it’s self-reported though and nearly no individuals actually bother with it.

          • Timbrelaine says:

            The answer is more complicated than you’d think, but for small items like this the answer is generally “no”.

          • dontnormally says:

            You’re both super wrong – sales tax is not collected under many circumstances surrounding online purchases, but you are really supposed to claim those purchases and pay tax on them at the end of the year.

          • Shuck says:

            Most US states have sales taxes, on top of which there are also local sales taxes (there are only a couple states that have neither). As mentioned, in most cases online retailers don’t collect the taxes, but as @dontnormally says, individuals are supposed to track and pay the taxes themselves, directly. In reality, however, this doesn’t actually happen very often. There’s legislation pending that will make this tax collection by online retailers more universal, however.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Tkrens says:

    Man I want one so badly :( And it’s really not too expensive considering its supposed awesomeness. Still too expensive for me though :( Speaking of which, what is the euro price?

  6. Ejia says:

    Since I already have a wired 360 controller that works perfectly well (unless one wants to use the d-pad) I don’t see myself plonking down money for this. Besides, I prefer where the left thumbstick is on the 360 – I never found the Dualshock layout comfortable. I suppose one could simply switch the functions of the stick and track/d-pad, though.

    • Runty McTall says:

      Steam Link apparently works with Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers. Am very interested in it for that – might finally let me bring FIFA back into my living from, for whence my wife banished it many years ago (as a bachelor I had my gaming PC on a desk only a few feet from the TV – alas no longer).

      Frankly I’ve long been waiting for one box to rule them all – streaming (locally and things like Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video (ugh, stupid name)) as well as games and on-demand TV like iPlayer (weirdly most iPlayer apps on STBs will do catch-up but not show live channels – I mean WTF).

      I’ve had various things that have half done each job:
      – WD TV Live – plays everything media-wise but is slow, prone to random restart loops and doesn’t do games
      – Amazon Fire TV – does ‘net streaming extremely well but only plays some media files with Plex TV and again doesn’t do full fat games (and *stops working* when the ‘net connection is down which, I mean, FFS – I have local media!)
      – Ouya – rubbish at basically everything
      – An old laptop at one point

      I’m quite interested in a NUC for the flexibility and potential that Intel’s onboard graphics will handle FIFA ok (I play FIFA 14 so not the latest and greatest graphics-wise) but the cost is pretty stupid really.

      Honestly, I’m not sure what the technical hurdles are – WD TV can decode everything I throw at it and it’s old and frankly a bit rubbish so it can’t be too hard. Apps exist for a good iPlayer / Netflix / Amazon Video experience but are weirdly inconsistent across devices. Some things handle a decent folder-based understanding of my NAS fine, others just fall over. LAN game streaming is obviously fairly niche.

      Could Link be the thing that unites them all and for only £40? I can dream. Probably just be another thing I have to plug into my HDMI hub.

      • Runty McTall says:

        Not to be a heretic, but should add that I’ve also considered a console of some kind. Seems overkill price-wise, I baulk at buying FIFA yet again and I’m not sure what the media (local and streaming) apps are like.

        • melnificent says:

          The consoles are good for socialising on if your friends have them. But they quickly turn into glorified Netflix boxes. Don’t fall for the hype like I did… save your money/spend it on your PC.

        • Ejia says:

          I do have both an Xbox 360 and a Wii, but I use them to play games on, so I have no idea how they work as media boxes.

          Does Steam specifically state the Steam Link will stream other media? I can’t find mention of anything else except games on its store page.

          • Cockie says:

            Well, Steam streaming can stream non-steam games, so if you add Kodi (aka XBMC) to your steam on your streaming pc you should be able to open that remotely and stream media that way (not tried this, so ymmv)

          • Runty McTall says:

            No, nothing about media or apps at all but, meh, seems like something that potentially makes sense to add (depending on the CPU architecture and OS it’s running, I guess).

            Possibly a long shot but, meh, am tired of having lots of different boxes doing bits and pieces of what I want, rather than just combining them all in one place. Might be technically naive but seems like it’s all possible, someone just needs to put them together.

          • Press X to Gary Busey says:

            I’m betting my left pinky on a Netflix partnership at least, for some native solution in a not to far future. As they kind of just pops up whenever you put a box shape near a TV.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        I’d be way about playing FIFA on the PC. It was either the 2014 or 2015 edition that EA made the decision to use the 360/PS3 engine on the PC release instead of the “next gen” engine bring used on the XboxOne and PS4.

        • Runty McTall says:

          Already own FIFA, so not a problem.

          Oh, actually, it’s on Origin, isn’t it. Oh dear… can you stream Origin games with this? Oh FFS, blocked at every turn.

          • nearly says:

            If you add it as a non-Steam title, it should work (assuming it functions the same as current In Home streaming). It used to be that anything that needed to launch a second program wouldn’t work, but Origin has been fine for me lately. For best results, I believe you should try to start with Origin closed and make sure it’s opening fresh each time you try to launch a game that needs it.

          • phelix says:

            Yes, adding it as non-steam title should work. I can stream my entire desktop by adding Notepad to Steam and then minimizing.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        With the Amazon FireTV and FireTV Stick you just sideload Kodi (formerly XBMC) and all your media needs are sorted.

        • Runty McTall says:

          Thanks – do you know which formats it will decode? Plex only seems to manage H264 stuff.

          Also XMBC on the Ouya was a pretty frustrating experience tbh.

  7. mattevansc3 says:

    As good as it looks in a bit concerned about it making a 3rd controller type for devs to support.

    Pads like the 360 controller work because we are seeing the greatest party between PC releases and console releases ever. That allows devs to quickly port over game controls from console to PC.

    For PC centric games we’ve got keyboard and mouse with ask three benefits of the keyboard. The Steam controller looks more like a mouse replacement, not a full keyboard and mouse replacement.

    Are devs like Bethesda going to use all the features of the Steam Controller or just stick with the Xbox360 controller and keep the controls the same across platforms?

    Is Creative Assembly going to take the time to rebalance their games to make sure there isn’t any noticeable difference between using KB&M and the Steam Controller?

    I doubt they will.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      Damn autocorrect and lack of a edit function. It should read all of the benefits of a keyboard, not ask three benefits.

      • Dare_Wreck says:

        And “parity” not “party.” Though I love the idea of a party between PC and console!

        • mattevansc3 says:

          It would be a shit party. Nintendo got ID’d and wasn’t allowed in. Sony came in their flash suit, bought everyone a shot and quickly became everybody’s favourite but is now relying on everyone else to buy them some drinks because they are skint. Microsoft is apologising to everybody and claiming they’ve changed after trying to crash the party down the road, getting kicked to the kerb and then vomiting on their friends’ shoes. The PC is quite smug because they are in the VIP area because they are friends with Gabe behind the bar. Unbeknownst to them Gabe doesn’t really know them but they’ve been tipping him all night and he likes the money. GOG is trying to attract customers with his cocktail making skills but its not going so well as everyone thinks he’s only good for Bloody Marys and not the good new drinks. Ubisoft is at the bar asking girls their phone numbers but everyone knows he’s a needy bastard and demands they keep in contact every five minutes. Origin is in the toilet flogging aftershave.

    • montorsi says:

      It sounds to me like Valve is creating a lot of that functionality themselves, allowing people to create and share configurations. Individual developers may not need to build in support as such?

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Key mapping is one thing but Valve are positioning this as bringing mouse controls to the living room. The majority of games that use a mouse also use a keyboard. Lets take a game like Dawn of War, you can assign group numbers for up to ten groups, squads have hotkeys for special actions then there’s hotkeys for unit selection (next builder, next building with research, etc). You aren’t going to be able to map every keyboard command to the controller. For an RTS to work with the Steam Controller the game would need to be built with that in mind.

        This is also a hybrid controller. If the game recognises it as a console controller then its going to switch on all the extra features such as aim assist and deadzone adjustments which means you aren’t going to really benefit from the mouse sensitivity. If its recognised as a K/B&M then you’ll likely lose the freedom of the left pad as the game is expecting a 4+2 digital keypress (WASD+QE) mot a 360 degree analogue stick/second mouse.

        Key mapping will aid with compatibility but to really make use of the controller the game would need a twin trackball (each haptic pad) + controller configuration

        • P.Funk says:

          That bit about the dual purpose of buttons depending on how you press them made me realize how much behind the curve controllers in gaming are from how the military does it.

          Go play DCS A-10C and learn the HOTAS method. Every button can be pressed short or long, thus having two functions. That makes one hat switch capable of 8 different functions. That means that a controller’s D pad is grotesquely under utilized in the current paradigm.

          Hard to believe really. Glad to see the Valve is pushing the boundaries, but so pathetic that those boundaries are basic design options that have existed forever but been buried in software design options.

        • nearly says:

          As far as aim assist and sensitivity, most games will let you turn either off, as well as ignore attached controllers for mouse and keyboard. We’re in a relatively good place for games automatically recognizing what you’re using (though there are trouble makers like Human Revolution and The Witcher 3 which insist on whatever it looks like you touched last) but most will let you turn controller off outright in either case.

    • Colt42 says:

      You are so wrong I’ve made an account just so i can point it out.

      There’s no support required, you create your own key-map or download it from Steam.

      Developers have to do nothing.

      Stop the drugs, or boxing, or whatever is damaging your brain.

      • Premium User Badge

        kregg says:

        The guy had a genuine question, even if he did come across as someone who didn’t do their homework – There is no need to be so rude as to imply he has brain damage (it’s just a new controller we are talking about here)

        • mattevansc3 says:

          Thanks for jumping in :-)

          I did my homework but it probably didn’t come across that way in my original post.

          Key mapping aside we are looking at a brand new hybrid controller. Games are setup for either a console controller or K/B&M not both at the same time. Games generally make concessions for console controller setups such as aim assist and deadzone adjustments. They of course don’t make these concessions for K/B&M.

          Now if the game recognises it as a console controller its going to put in the concessions which may not play well with the right haptic touchpad or even lose the benefit of the touch pad. If the game recognises it as a K/B&M then there’s the chance the game won’t recognise the left analogue stick as its expecting a WASD input.

          To really get the benefit of the controller the game would have to recognise an analogue stick and a mouse/touchpad/trackball interface at the same time.

          • Premium User Badge

            kregg says:

            You know what, I can see where you are going with this. You have some very valid points, and I’m sorry for insinuating that you didn’t do your research (did more thinking than I did, that’s for sure).

            I think by default – and without drivers – the device will be recognised as a bog standard keyboard. Just like how my Sidewinder X4 keyboard with all it’s fancy macros and media keys will just seem like a bog standard keyboard when I use it on Mac or Linux or even Windows with the lack of drivers.

            I think the power will come in the drivers – it will make the device be treated like a dual controller/keyboard device where you can go into Windows peripherals and do the typical X/Y axis calibration but you can then go into Keyboard settings and with some mapping that’s still flashed into the controller, you can type out WSAD.

            It will be interesting to see how this actually works, but I doubt this bit is impossible. I’m actually more curious to see how well it plays on Mac and Linux, given how those two platforms have never really had gaming peripherals made for them.

            Thanks for giving me something to chew on! :)

          • mattevansc3 says:

            I wouldn’t worry too much about Linux. Valve is pushing that quite hard so it would be weird for them not to put the effort into the Linux drivers.

            The real concern I’d say is that according to the storepage you can only configure the gamepad via SteamOS or big picture mode.

          • P.Funk says:

            Most of our perceived issues that could arise are entirely based on consoles having a history of extremely inflexible control schemes. That they never allowed you to customize buttons and only use pre-existing profiles is the issue.

            Now you go to a PC game that has robust controller support and you can use KB/M, Controller, joystick, rudder pedals, racing wheel, another peripheral, etc. I see no difference between how consoles manage controls and PC games manage controls, it only requires they actually open up and support basic control utility. The issue is that console games have had such poor controller support that it looks like a bigger issue than it is.

            On most PC games that have any controller support at all I can use KB/M and press buttons on my X-52 throttle next to me and get both inputs to work and many games let you map duplicates across your various devices. The issue you perceive is mostly a question of whether or not they actually fucking bother to open up the control interface and a new different controller with decent built in profiling software should do just fine.

            Its not really a problem and any developer that makes a port and provides basic support for peripherals beyond just the KB/M should be automatically supporting this.

  8. Dale Winton says:

    Buying one. Hate using mouse and keyboard from my couch. Currently use xbox360 pad.

  9. ansionnach says:

    The analogue shoulder buttons with click were present on the Gamecube and were pretty useless. Even now I sometimes use GC pads on PC and can set controls however I want, I haven’t been able to make much use of them. Problem is that you need to map them to an action that is always preceded by another, seeing as clicking the buttons means pressing in the analogues first. Only thing I can think of is setting them as analogue accelerators, with the click representing maximum. A bit pointless, seeing as this is already possible with the analogue triggers on their own.

    • Jeeva says:

      Or the click representing Afterburners or some “Max+” condition? Bikes in GTA going forward versus the “sprint” bound to Capslock on KB?
      Block -> Counter-attack
      Ironsights -> Fire (of course, from the video)
      Lock -> Fire Missiles
      Crouch/Kneel -> Prone
      Reload fast / slow (dropping the clip or not)

      Just a few ideas.

      • Baines says:

        “Ironsights->Fire”

        Which means you can’t fire from the hip, as you’ll always trigger ironsights first. That that might be a positive feature speaks more to FPS design than controller design, though.

        There are other issues that depend on how the hardware of the trigger is handled. The easier and faster the transitions are, the more you risk people misfiring when they only wanted to ADS. Light transitions can also make it uncomfortable to hold a half-click state for extended periods, without accidentally triggering a full click or dropping back to a no-click state. The harder the transition is, the more of a control obstacle you put on simply firing, particularly if you didn’t really care about ADS.

        Analog and multi-click triggers and buttons have been tried many times over the decades, and they’ve never really held on despite their theoretical usefulness. That doesn’t automatically mean it will fail here, though. Some of previous failures has been due to bad game design. Some due to developer disinterest, where few even bother to try to find uses for the extra states, which is made worse when developers focus on multiplatform games where the other systems lack such a feature.

        Some has been due to multi-state triggers potentially being a shortcoming when you don’t actually want the multi-state functionality. With decent user customization this can turn into a positive, and the Steam controller appears to go above and beyond in the area of customization.

        • ansionnach says:

          I often found that where it could be useful, it is often also useful to have a separate button assigned to just the clicking action without the other bit. Doesn’t really matter as long as the click feature isn’t in place of something more useful. In the GC’s case, more range on the analogue triggers and an extra digital button above the left trigger would have been better. I presume the clicking was considered more than an adequate replacement but it wasn’t.

    • drinniol says:

      Closing S-foils in Rogue Leader. There – justified!

  10. Ferno says:

    I’m actually very interested in trying this. The entirely remappable control schemes are a godsend for players with physical disabilities that can hinder use of standard controllers, though I’m not sure how the haptic pits transfer that way.

    I’ll probably pick one up.

  11. Nibblet says:

    For me it will come down to how it pairs with the VIVE / Occulus.
    Still hoping for some kind of tactile feedback controller, but i am guessing this will be the best option for a while atleast.

  12. Wowbagger says:

    Can I be that guy that points out you misspelled kit as pit?

  13. montorsi says:

    Interesting, and I want one, but uh… I’ll wait for a Steam sale. I don’t see anything that makes it a must buy at release.

  14. paralipsis says:

    It’s still listed as “coming soon” on the Australian store page. I guess Valve aren’t quite ready to treat us the same as most other game hardware vendors do these days. I’m pretty used to seeing new graphics cards and the like at pretty much the same time they hit the streets in North America and Europe, and console launch dates here tend to be close to the major markets as well. Oh well, I guess it’s hardly a surprise given that they have let publishers gouge us with over retail prices, despite overseas sales (such as those on Steam) being exempt from the taxes for goods sold locally. I should feel used to Valve treating us as second class citizens.

    • NotOscarWilde says:

      I cannot buy it from the Czech Republic either. I can add it to the “shopping cart”, but then it shows up empty.

      Any other people/countries with the same bad luck?

    • Premium User Badge

      neffo says:

      I hope the lack of the controller on the Steam page in Australia isn’t a result of the consumer protections we have here.

  15. kael13 says:

    I just bought an Xbox One controller, which I’m definitely liking the use of in the Witcher 3. All too often I’ve been stung by early adopter woes, so I’m content for now but still interested.

  16. IonTichy says:

    I’d have to actually test the controller before being able to judge it….
    I certainly think that it is not such a good idea to preorder it half a year in advance

  17. J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    I was fortunate enough to try one at PAX. Let me preface my impressions by saying that I only got to use it on Towerfall, a 2D game wherein I didn’t get a chance to try out many of the features. I wish I could’ve played something else.

    The analog stick placement felt very awkward for someone used to a 360 pad. Similarly, pressing the buttons felt weird, too, as my fingers naturally wanted to be higher up. The triggers felt fine, and the controller felt very comfortable to hold. Overall, as someone very much used to the 360 pad, it would take some readjustment to feel comfortable with it. I want to love it, and perhaps I would if I could play it with other games to utilize all it has to offer, but I think I’ll stick with the 360 controller for now.

    • Reapy says:

      I also got to use one at pax east, but managed to get to the borderlands set up to try a FPS. I had an extremely similar reaction to the control as you, I really like the 360 layout and would have killed to have the analog stick in the primary position.

      Using the touch pad to aim though was perfect, exactly what you would want, still not 100% a good mouse, but pretty close.

      It was hampered though by the location of the buttons. When I would push the buttons my aiming thumb would slide down due to my hands being scrunched up, throwing off my aim. I tried to correct this by applying more pinching pressure on the controller to avoid sliding my aim when I fired, but what happened instead was accidentally clicking the whole touch pad and activating that function.

      I later got to use a ps4 controller and the hand scrunching feeling was similar to the steam controller, so I’d call it more of a duelshock variant.

      Overall the steam controller was a decent thing, but not as mature as some of the console controllers. I’ll tell you what though, you take the xbox controller, replace the right analog stick and dpad with touch pads, and you’d have the worlds most perfect controller.

      • EhexT says:

        Unless you’re one of the many people that absolutely hate the placement of the sticks on the 360 controller. Which are in a weird spot just to be different from Sonys and has now conditioned half a generation to prefer a weird claw-handed grip with terrible D-pad access (and terrible Dpad, but that’s another story).

        • drinniol says:

          Sony picked a weird spot just to be different to Nintendo. It’s a natural position for your hands to take when at rest.

  18. Crainey says:

    I’ll wait until others have tried it. I don’t use a controller often enough to justify pre-ordering something from an unproven hardware creator. That said I’m also very excited at the prospect of a PC-gamer focused controller.

  19. Malco says:

    £14.80 shipping! ouch I might have to wait then Steam.

  20. Synesthesia says:

    can’t wait for assholes to peddle it for triple it’s price down here in argentina.

  21. ResonanceCascade says:

    The only thing that tempts me about this is the ability to easily use the controller as a mouse as well as a controller. Running back and forth between my PC and my couch every time I need to adjust something is kind of annoying.

    Beyond that, I don’t see anything replacing the good ol’ 360 controller any time soon.

  22. Hot Trout says:

    Hmmm, I’ve kind of gotten used to being able to just charge any of my controllers by finding a spare usb cable and plugging them in

    Having to go back to buying batteries is actually enough of a pain to put me off one of these for now…

    Also does it require steam in order to function at all? I would like to use one outside of steam too probably, but I think loading the key-mappings is tied to Big Picture mode (I think it might even not be possible to use it outside of big picture mode at all!?)

    • April March says:

      Wait – is that true? There is no wired version of the controller? That’s quite daft, and now I know I won’t be buying one (until they inevitably do release a wired version, at least).

      • mattevansc3 says:

        There’s a micro USB2.0 port to wire it up to the PC. Cable isn’t included.

  23. edwardh says:

    I wouldn’t mind this if I wasn’t afraid that devs might start developing their games toward the use of the specific functions of this controller over the 360 one. Because I love the 360 controller and am very skeptical about this one…