On Friday, the Washington-based video game company Valve Corporation made the third of its three high-profile announcements in a week, teasing a controller that it said would meld "high-precision input technologies" with "low-latency performance."
"We knew how to build the user interface, we knew how to build a machine, and even an operating system," Valve reps wrote on the Steam Controller landing page. "But that still left input – our biggest missing link. We realized early on that our goals required a new kind of input technology – one that could bridge the gap from the desk to the living room without compromises. So we spent a year experimenting with new approaches to input and we now believe we’ve arrived at something worth sharing and testing with you."
So what will the Steam Controller look like? Well, an artist's rendering provided by Valve appears above – if that image is accurate, the peripheral will resemble the Xbox 360 controller, except with two trackpads in the place of joysticks, and a high-resolution touch screen in the center. (OK, so it resembles the Xbox 360 controller in almost no way except for the general shape.)
Valve says the Steam Controller will be compatible with all the games in the Steam catalog, including the games originally designed to be played only with a mouse.
"Every button and input zone has been placed based on frequency of use, precision required and ergonomic comfort," the company notes. "There are a total of sixteen buttons on the Steam Controller. Half of them are accessible to the player without requiring thumbs to be lifted from the trackpads, including two on the back. All controls and buttons have been placed symmetrically, making left or right handedness switchable via a software config checkbox."
Sounds pretty cool to us.
No word yet on price or exact release date, but expect the Steam Controller to launch sometime next year.