Valve continues to revise and change their upcoming Steam Controller as it edges closer to a final release build. So far the Steam Controller has had at least three major version changes, and a delay into 2015. Today came the announcement of even more changes including adding a thumbstick.
You can see a picture of the new configuration below. Looking at it I see only a few changes, with the biggest being the replacement of the d-pad with a traditional analog stick. The ergonomics also seem to have been adjusted, with the handles on the side of the controller looking more stylized and form-fitting.
Adding an analog stick is a very odd decision from Valve, considering the basic idea behind them creating this controller. Xbox 360 and PS3 controllers have been doing a fine job servicing most PC gamer’s gamepad needs up until now. However, Valve was looking to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, and come up with a new design specifically meant to tailor to PC gamer’s needs. That is why they decided to go with the touchpad interface over joysticks, which differ greatly from mouse and keyboard control schemes.
By adding the analog stick the Steam Controller edges closer to becoming too similar to the controllers that are already on the market. If that happens they might end up with their product filling too small a niche resulting in poor adoption of the device among their demographics.
Honestly, at this point there have been so many changes made to this device pre-launch that I’m having trouble recalling what the last build even looked like. The original design was very unique among controllers, leading to excitement and fear among PC gamers about the device. It seems like Valve has since become much more conservative with their design, resulting in the Steam Controller looking like a regular gamepad with a few extra buttons and touchpads in place of the usual analog sticks.