For reviewers and those consumers who secured preorders, Valve’s long-awaited Steam controller has shipped, weeks ahead of its November 10th release date. This follows years of delays and revisions, much to fan discontent, but Valve finally feels like they have a shippable product. The device is set to be compatible with most Steam titles that feature gamepad support. The controller marks Valve’s first official piece of hardware, following the much-hyped Steam Machine offered by various third-party companies. But how does it play?
Early reviews seem to reach a consensus. The controller doesn’t seem to excel in performance at any one game genre, and seems to suffer in first-person shooters. Complaints have been levied against the low hanging left analogue stick and face buttons, the latter of which typically lie above the right stick on most controllers. Steam does allow users to share customized control layouts, which is almost a necessity given how poorly it fits into traditional schemes, which are tailored to work with the ever popular Xbox 360 gamepad.
Strangely enough, the controller’s developers also share these sentiments. Endgadget reports that even the folks at Valve are not fond of the controller’s left thumbstick, and supposedly only included it to make the controller accessible to players comfortable with that feature on a controller. The company plans on reintroducing the once-planned touchscreen to the device after release. Valve developer Robin Walker has been quoted, saying “I don’t think this will be the last Steam Controller design ever. We’re just about to hist the point where customers get their hands on it which, to us in the software world, that’s where stuff starts to get really interesting”.
Valve hasn’t issued any comment on what direction they expect consumers to take their device, but it does bring up a concerning point. Rather than craft an intuitive product, the developer seems to be releasing an admittedly half-baked device onto the market, with expectations that players will deal with it, or make their own improvements to make the device usable. It amounts to assigning playtesting and fine-tuning to consumers instead of, you know, the company whose job it is to do all that. At this point, it wouldn’t be surprising if the mythical Half-Life 3 was dumped in fan’s laps as well.
So what do you think about Valve’s new controller? Are you going to pick it up, or stick with your own? Do you prefer mouse and keyboard and think this situation is silly? Let me know below.