Valve revamps design of its Steam Controller

The unique game pad that will accompany some Steam Machines down the line has lost its touch screen and makes room for a more comfortable button layout.

Nick Statt Former Staff Reporter / News
Nick Statt was a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.
Nick Statt
2 min read
Leszek Godlewski/Steam Database

Valve unveiled an updated design for its Steam Controller on Wednesday at its annual Steam Dev Days developers conference. Attendees of the conference, including those behind the Steam Database Twitter account, snapped shots of the new prototype and posted them online this afternoon.

In removing both the center touch screen and relocating the surrounding buttons into two diamond-shaped configurations -- one a revision of the existing ABXY button layout and the other potentially a directional pad -- the new device now resembles something closer to an Xbox controller.

Reportedly in place of the touch screen will be support for "ghost mode," a way for users to move a cursor on the television by hovering their finger over a screen on the controller.

The Steam Controller will retain its unique dual-trackpad design that forgoes the use of traditional thumb sticks, and is confirmed to run on AA batteries.

The original design of the Steam Controller, which contains a touch screen in the center and ABXY button layout surrounding it. Sarah Tew/CNET

It's still unclear what the final version of the controller will look like as this is yet another prototype, albeit one that is further along in its competition when compared with those that accompanied the 300 beta prototype bundles that went out to Steam users last month.

In doing both a beta test and fielding player feedback to its original design last week at the Consumer Electronics Show, Valve is intent on ensuring the version of hardware it will eventually ship is something both radically different, but still comfortable to use. Part of that effort means more options; Valve also announced at the conference that third-party manufacturers of Steam Machines will be able to design and market their own controllers.