Close
Report Comment to a Moderator Our Moderators review all comments for abusive and offensive language, and ensure comments are from Verified Users only.
Please report a comment only if you feel it requires our urgent attention.
I understand, report it. Cancel

Valve offers a "different kind of gamepad" with Steam Controller

Valve offers a "different kind of gamepad" with Steam Controller

Fri 27 Sep 2013 5:22pm GMT / 1:22pm EDT / 10:22am PDT
Hardware

Valve's touch-centric controller offers new ways to play all your favorite Steam games

Valve's last announcement in its push into the living room is the Steam Controller, a touch-enabled controller that is the result of a year of experimenting with input technology.

"Traditional gamepads force us to accept compromises," reads the Steam Controller website. "We've made it a goal to improve upon the resolution and fidelity of input that's possible with those devices. The Steam controller offers a new and, we believe, vastly superior control scheme, all while enabling you to play from the comfort of your sofa. Built with high-precision input technologies and focused on low-latency performance, the Steam controller is just what the living-room ordered."

Instead of the dual analog sticks we've come to expect, Valve has decided to go with dual trackpads on its controller. The high-resolution trackpads mean that the controller works for games that normally require analog sticks, but they also work on games built around mouse control, like strategy and 4X titles. The trackpads also feature haptic feedback powered by "small, strong, weighted electro-magnets," which will give players "a wide range of force and vibration."

The center of the Steam Controller has a high-resolution touch-screen that also acts as a clickable button. Valve will be offering an API for the touch-screen, so developers can support it directly with custom functions within games. The API will be available to developers when the prototype Steam Controllers ship to beta users. Valve has also decided on a fix for the problem of dual-screen gaming with a television: when a player uses the touch-screen, its display is mirrored on the TV screen.

Sixteen buttons are on the controller and Valve is proud of the fact that half of them can be activated without moving your thumbs from the trackpads. The controller is also built for right- or left-handed use.

01

The Controller is intended to be the way that players interact with Steam Machines, so Valve has also added a legacy mode where the controller presents to systems as a keyboard and mouse. Steam users can create custom bindings for games (example shown above), and share them with the community. The Steam Controller is also usable with any version of Steam, so PC and Mac players can use it as well.

Valve is still working on the hardware, so beta users won't get the final Steam Controller.

"The first 300 or so beta units won't include a touch screen, and they won't be wireless," the company says on the website. "Instead, they'll have four buttons in place of the touch screen, and they'll require a USB cable."

On the site, Valve also announced that it will be presenting detailed specs of its SteamOS-powered prototype hardware next week.

44 Comments

Chris Murphy Community & Live Manager, Ubisoft

46 17 0.4
Popular Comment
Well...that's certainly interesting. At least it's something new. There has been far too much stagnation in the core/precision controller market of the past number of years.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Gareth Donaghey Customer Support Agent, Blizzard Entertainment

34 46 1.4
Bought a xbox style joypad for the PC last week, it cost 25 euros.
If its just as cheap, then maybe.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,590 1,446 0.9
More out of the box gamepad support than the 360 PC pad will ever have:
The Steam Controller is designed to work with all the games on Steam: past, present, and future. Even the older titles in the catalog and the ones which were not built with controller support. (We’ve fooled those older games into thinking they’re being played with a keyboard and mouse, but we’ve designed a gamepad that’s nothing like either one of those devices.)
More/better touch sensitivity than the console pads have.

Touch screen.

Moddable... think of that - an entirely moddable piece of controller hardware.

Yup, definitely excited by this (even though, just two days ago I said "I[Input] whilst important - and needs more innovation in the PC market - doesn't automatically fill me with excitement.")

Posted:A year ago

#3

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
Im glad they went with this direction instead of just a 360 clone, can't wait to try it out.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Paul Shirley Programmers

178 150 0.8
The dual touchpads on my Xperia Play work quite well when the lacklustre performance of the phone doesn't get in the way. I can see this controller working really well, whether replacing a mouse or a console stick.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,193 1,170 0.5
Anyone else find it amusing that that controller looks like a face you'd see on something in a Portal game? I got a good chuckle that's for sure. And yeah, this is going to shake things up a bit IF the cranky FPS "keyboard/mouse iz best" people I'm seeing post hate for this thing already online wake up and give it a try.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Zbigniew Lebkowski 3D Artist & Animator

11 18 1.6
Popular Comment
The trackpads are a really bad idea for FPS games. Just look at any GTA game controls on the iPad.
The gamepad may an interesting gimmick, a fresh breeze but I don't see a lot of people buying one of those.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve

340 292 0.9
I'm unsure whether it'll actually be any good for gaming but Valve might just be on to a winner because I really want to get my hands on one to try it out.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Chris Murphy Community & Live Manager, Ubisoft

46 17 0.4
The trackpads are a really bad idea for FPS games. Just look at any GTA game controls on the iPad.
The gamepad may an interesting gimmick, a fresh breeze but I don't see a lot of people buying one of those.
There's a world of difference between a barren touchscreen that wasn't particularly designed for extended periods of contact, and a trackpad that is, and features landmarks. With that said, the inconsistencies of the contact area of human fingers (especially pudgy gamer thumbs), is somewhat of a concern for me. I would imagine that they've been working on spiffy software ways to remove the wobble/jerk when raising/moving your thumb.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,193 1,170 0.5
@Chris: I'd bet the controller works for skinny as well as pudgy digits. It is hackable after all and I'm looking at a pic of Gabe Newell as I type this and I bet he's been poking around with that new pad with HIS pudgy fingers as far as testing it out goes (a-heh. Sorry, Gabe!)... ;^P

Posted:A year ago

#10

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,183 975 0.8
Genius.

Been thinking about touch based pads for a while and for a few reasons. Partly wondering what a 'multi-touch mad' Apple would come up with if they made one, partly wondering where the controller could go next and partly wondering how we could bridge the gap between touch interfaces on mobiles and console controllers.

Of recent ideas, including WiiU tablet controller and Ouya controller with a touch pad, this is the most interesting for me. It doesn't just adopt existing interfaces, adding then to the controller, it rethinks others entirely.

Lots of potential here.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 28th September 2013 12:01am

Posted:A year ago

#11

Paul Jace Merchandiser

942 1,428 1.5
It looks like a futuristic mini version of an 80's beat box. Doesn't look particularly comfortable either. I wonder if it will catch on or become another Power Glove.

Posted:A year ago

#12

Justin Shuard J - E translator

45 176 3.9
Looks okay for some slower paced mouse heavy games like Civilization, but I don't think it'd work too well with something like a Total War game.

Posted:A year ago

#13

Gil Salvado 3D/2D Artist

34 37 1.1
Would be interesting if you could also directly download shared control-schemes instead of remapping it manually.

I'm really curious to know if these trackpads allow for a much precise control versus analog-sticks. It's a pain as a mouse user to aim with these sticks. All of the rest sounds really interesting as well. Clickable touchscreen, buttons close to trackpads, etc. Hope, they just work as fine as they sound.

Posted:A year ago

#14

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,254 421 0.3
Obviously, no one can make a call on this until we get grubby mits on them, but if this can get it right, with precision approaching what mouse users expect, and the comfort of a decent controller, this really compliments Valves strategy for transforming PC gaming. Coupled with the tied down hardware benchmarks, and the gaming OS with non of the background fluff, this could be amazing.

Since Vista and its high system resource requirements, I have heard gamers ask MS to have a start up mode in Windows that doesn't load up anything not necessary for gaming, so as to get the best of your system for one application. It seems that by not doing this, they invited Valve's approach, assuming Valve have made a version of Linux which is more accessible to a beginner trying to self learn. Clearly SteamOS will drive better linux gaming device drivers.

There is no guarantee this push will be successful, but I can't see many Steam gamers not trying out the OS in a dual boot mode, if it is good then it may lead to a consumer exodus to Linux eventually.

Posted:A year ago

#15

Paul Shirley Programmers

178 150 0.8
@Chris Murphy: "spiffy software ways to remove the wobble/jerk when raising/moving your thumb"

Console stick controls aren't exactly the worlds most precise inputs. I've found them basically unusable for precise, wobble free aiming. If they use good enough pads touch offers stability by having your thumb on a flat, solid surface, so less wobble. Not likely to compete with a mouse for precision or stability but console joypad sticks should be easy to beat.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Shirley on 28th September 2013 12:50pm

Posted:A year ago

#16

Michael Vandendriessche Studying Computer Science, K.U. Leuven

85 12 0.1
Ehm,... well I'm glad they try new things.
I'll have to try it out before making up my mind.
From first impression I'm not really interested.

Posted:A year ago

#17

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,590 1,446 0.9
Heh... Posting on my usual forum hang-out, I'm in the minority with this view-point.

I think it's as innovative as the N64 controller. The type of control, the unusual shape, the number of buttons. These are all similarities I see between the Valve Pad and the N64 controller.

People are saying "Oh, but mouse/keyboard is perfect - it's trying to fix a problem which ain't broke." But that's side-stepping the issue - for people who have the agility of a piano player, mouse/keyboard is fine. But what about the people who don't? Try playing an FPS to a good standard if you don't have touch-typing skills, or you have short fingers. Try playing any complicated game with mouse/keyboard if you've grown up playing console-games. And what about the other way around? I've had several consoles throughout my life (and still do), but I'm all fingers-and-thumbs when it comes to playing Mirror's Edge on the PS3; on the PC though, that's different.

People claim the controller is going to fracture input development on the PC, but it's already fractured. Some games support 360 Pad, a few don't. Some games have customisable control schemes, a lot don't. I think this might actually be a way to bring together input support as a common standard, since it requires absolutely no specific coding from the developer to take advantage of.

And then there's the mod support. For gamers who have lost digits or have reduced mobility, this thing could be an absolute God-send.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 28th September 2013 1:56pm

Posted:A year ago

#18

Brian Smith Artist

196 85 0.4
Seeing this controller makes me wonder whether one feature of analogue sticks would be missed by gamers. We're so used to the leaving the stick go and letting it spring return to centre. It becomes a necessary skill in some games to master precise control. I'm sure it'll have benefits of its own but I'm doubtfull it'll work as a like for like replacement for games that have been made for sticks.

Posted:A year ago

#19

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,590 1,446 0.9
@ Brian

Heh... This is definitely worth reading, with respect to your comment, since SMB is one of the most difficult hardcore platformers on the PC.

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/TommyRefenes/20130928/201219/My_time_with_the_Steam_Controller.php

Posted:A year ago

#20

Chris Murphy Community & Live Manager, Ubisoft

46 17 0.4
@Paul Shirley: "Console stick controls aren't exactly the worlds most precise inputs. I've found them basically unusable for precise, wobble free aiming. If they use good enough pads touch offers stability by having your thumb on a flat, solid surface, so less wobble. Not likely to compete with a mouse for precision or stability but console joypad sticks should be easy to beat."

I completely agree with you. I hope that this controller can fall somewhere between the 360 pad and KB/Mouse, I doubt that it can surpass the latter. The main concern that I have isn't with regards to moving a reticle on screen in a precise fashion, it's how the device interprets the action of removing your thumb from the pad. Given that the flesh across your thumb does not leave a pad/screen at the exact same time, this action can often throw off the position of an on-screen reticle by a considerable margin. That's my main concern for the device at the moment.

Posted:A year ago

#21

Brian Smith Artist

196 85 0.4
Thanks for the link Morville. Interesting read. I still can't imagine what it would be like with something like hot pursuit or other arcadey racers for one type of game. I do hope it proves otherwise. It'd be great to see something new and more importantly, better out there as a controller.

Posted:A year ago

#22

Eric Leisy VR Production Designer, Nike

117 127 1.1
Woo! This looks like an awesome control pad! The controller market is slow to innovate, so I think this is wonderful to see. I really hope that it works as well as they say it does. The idea is intriguing.

Also, that was a great impression article from the SMB guy.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Eric Leisy on 29th September 2013 6:37am

Posted:A year ago

#23

Christopher Garratty European Counsel, Electronic Arts

86 109 1.3
@Morville It's not so much about Mouse and Keyboard being perfect or too complex compared with controllers since that's all subjective. The reason for the controller is that you can't lean back on your sofa and use mkb. Controllers are a trade off. Less buttons, less precision, but more convenient.

The track pad is smaller than a mouse mat so it will always be limited in precision comparatively. The keyboard allows access to all its buttons without ever requiring you let go of the mouse.

Let's see Mechwarrior played on the pad eh?

Posted:A year ago

#24

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
This is brave. The Steam box could fail or succeed on this one thing.
We have needed a new gaming input device for a long time. Just iterating joypads when technology has advanced so much is really the cowards way out.
Some very clever and creative people have come from left field here. They have created the perfect controller as if nothing had come before. Then they have tested, developed and polished it.
This could end up being what Valve are most famous for.

Posted:A year ago

#25

Tom Keresztes Programmer

684 335 0.5
If the steambox has USB ports, this might be optional.

Posted:A year ago

#26

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,183 975 0.8
People are saying "Oh, but mouse/keyboard is perfect - it's trying to fix a problem which ain't broke." But that's side-stepping the issue - for people who have the agility of a piano player, mouse/keyboard is fine. But what about the people who don't? Try playing an FPS to a good standard if you don't have touch-typing skills, or you have short fingers.
I'd say its simpler than that Morville.

Despite the advantages of a mouse and keyboard, they're just not very natural as far as control methods go. Easy to use or not, they're not very portable either. Even the biggest M+K fanboy cannot tell me that it fits either the portable or natural category.

This design appears (or attempts) to address both issues of comfort/versatility and precision we experience in existing control methods across the board, from the mouse and keyboard, to pads we see in the Playstation and Xbox.
I think it's as innovative as the N64 controller. The type of control, the unusual shape, the number of buttons. These are all similarities I see between the Valve Pad and the N64 controller.
I feel it could be as innovative, though it may not be *quite* as unusual. Seeing as we had hardly anything to compare 64 to back then.

Valve do have some 17 years of research, development and refinement to draw on from other peripheral designers since N64, so we should probably remember that and see the parallels in its form factor. The fit can't be too dissimilar to an Xbox controller (I'd imagine) and the touch screen can only be better than the touch pad we have on the Ouya, and more versatile than the one on the PS4. Its really the massive circles which are the unusual bit here!

With cynics around, I do see where you're coming from though. But I do think this is likely to be more practical and refined than the N64 controller ever was.

Posted:A year ago

#27

Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing

359 215 0.6
Frankly, this thing looks entirely unuseable for gaming. A personal opinion as a gamer is that like SteamOS in general, will be a novelty that the faithful will buy without staying power. Keep in mind this isn't backed by any research as of yet, beyond experience with other wildly experimental control methods. It's worth noting that Apple, who despises buttons of any kind as an aesthetic affront made a controller design that looks quite traditional. Steam caters to the hardcore, and the hardcore likes physical controls (look at the Kinect backlash). I showed this thing to a few casuals, and they find it intimidating. Frankly, I don't have a lot of faith in the entire Steambox initiative. It feels like more of an effort to lock in the core and keep them away from consoles. I personally believe that Valve is terrified of getting Netscaped by the Windows store, Microsoft has been experimenting with Steam sales, and Sony's definitely on board too. So I'm really hoping people look at the why, instead of the what behind Valves moves

Posted:A year ago

#28

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,590 1,446 0.9
Certainly Valve are trying to escape the dominance of MS in the PC market. And certainly they don't wish to be locked out if MS start closing the desktop space down. But to imply they're running scared? That's a stretch. :)

For one thing, Microsoft may have been "experimenting with Steam sales", but no-where relevant to either the Steam Machine or desktop PC gaming. In fact, quite the opposite - support for both the Games For Windows Live Marketplace and Client is being shuttered, which actually implies that MS is withdrawing from a market dominated by Valve (and to a lesser extent EA). If you mean they're experimenting with Steam-like sales on console, then surely this makes little difference, since that is Microsoft reacting to Valve's sales-practices, and not the other way around? Valve also must have vast cash-reserves, so I don't think they're worried enough of getting "Netscape'd" to enact this plan without having thought it through thoroughly.

Your analysis is also slightly confusing - if only the faithful (by which I assume you mean hardcore PC gamers who favour Steam) are going to buy this, then why would it be an effort to "lock in the core and keep them away from consoles?" Elite PC gamers either buy a console as a second gaming machine, or use only their PC.

The controller is the answer to the question "If every PC game is mouse/keyboard, how can people sit on their couch and game?". It may look scary and counter-intuitive, but so does every new piece of technology. I doubt that many stay-at-home mums would've jumped at using the Wiimote when they first saw it, yet they did. Valve will absorb a lot of the manufacturing cost no doubt, in order to get it into as many people's hands as possible. When added to the Steam Machines produced by Dell/Acer/Asus/Lenovo, which will no doubt be running in PC sales-rooms and shops like Best Buy and PC World, the curious-nature of it will probably be enough to draw people in. Much like the Wiimote.

Finally, I don't think Apple's controller is worth mentioning. Though they have clearly dominated the smart-phone market, AppleTV has been a wasted opportunity, so I hardly think they're perfect. :) In addition, Apple have always seemed somewhat disdainful of gaming, so it doesn't particularly surprise me that they're not as inventive with gaming input. (There an interesting relevant quote here).

(Just proof-read this, and it might seem I'm coming off a bit abrasive... I don't mean to. :) )

Edited 6 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 29th September 2013 8:54pm

Posted:A year ago

#29

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,590 1,446 0.9
@ Adam and Christopher

You would not believe the number of comments from PC gamers I've read who defend mouse/keyboard as perfect. Absolutely, hands-down, perfect. A couple have even criticised the Steam Controller for "unnecessary and needless innovation". Which I debate, if only because some innovation is rarely noticed as "necessary" until it's actually with us. But, hey-ho, it's the internet. :p

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 29th September 2013 9:11pm

Posted:A year ago

#30

Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing

359 215 0.6
It's not a stretch. That's why I specifically referred to "getting Netscaped". Netscape was the king of web browsing until Microsoft bundled IE for free in with Windows, and the company went from king to worthless in about two years., only saved by AOL's spending spree during the boom years (and we all know how that ended up)

And that's the whole point. Microsoft is shuttering Games for Windows because A- no one is using it without being paid to, and B- because they're consolidating it all under the marketplace built into Windows 8, which is fully integrated into Xbox Live proper. They've dumped an infrastructure, not a concept.Since their app store will be sitting on every Windows desktop, and consumer habits trend toward the easy path (the vast majority of the world has never heard of Steam, and as many lawsuits in the US and EU that MS has lost (settling is losing) prove, it's a huge advantage. It's no coincidence that the Gabe's statement coincided with the Xbox Marketplace on Windows reveal (nor Blizzard's). Valve is worth about $2 billion as it stands right now. The vast majority of loyalty to Steam comes from familiarity, their monopoly over the industry and the biggest piece: Steam sales. If MS really feels threatened by them, Valve is only worth a few billion, and they could crush them without ever really missing the cash with massive sales on titles earlier, exclusives and their usual tactics. Is this right? hell no, but Gabe Newll knows that they are perfectly capable of doing so, and have done it before.

All indications are that Steam Machines are going to be priced at least as high as Xbox One, and their lack of a standardized hardware design is not going to help things. Look at Google's Chrome for a good example of the likely path, they're dumping them on schools en masse and that's about it (Just like MS is doing with Surface). The Wiimote fascinated people because Nintendo has the relationships to get on the talk shows, its new experience immediately understandable by the average joe (tennis/bowling). If you notice, the WiiU doesn't have the same simplicity, and it's bombed out completely. Steam has zero experience or cred in the big scary world of the mainstream, and you should check the sales figures on Portal 2. Xbox 360 outsold PC by 3 to 1, and PS3 by almost as much. PC AAA games like Call of Duty or Assassin's Creed sell 5% of their copies on PC.

You're absolutely right about Apple and gaming. Steve Jobs HATED it, felt it demeaned his art, and actively sabotagied gaming on the Mac and later on iDevices. That is, until the money got too good and he was forced to back down. Here's the thing though. iOS 7 now supports controllers, and there is a reference design. In fact, I'll wager that we would have seen this years ago if he wasn't actively throwing a fit over anything that has buttons.Every major manufacturer is making controllers now. Regardless of whether or not they're inventive, there's piles of iPads, Apple TV and iPhones out there that are capable of using these controllers immediately, installed base of well over 100 million devices that can use it immediately, and a bunch of console ports (Sid Meier's Pirates, KOTOR, GTA 3/Vice City, Street Fighter) that have been horribly compromised with touchscreen sticks that are screaming for a fast update. Not to mention Activision's new COD title, and a ton of games to come.It finally makes it a platform for real games, and that's what makes it so dangerous. Apple chose a design that conforms to how people are used to playing, and as the Xbox temper tantrums show, gamers fear change (and are quick to demonize, which is why when Microsoft comes up with an idea like family share it's the root of all evil, but when Valve copies it it's the second coming) Valve and Apple are very similar companies. Both of them feed mostly on the work that others innovated, and have a church of users surrounding them that will take anything they hand out, and will stick with them no matter what. And both of them are extremely vulnerable to getting knocked off that pedastal. While Apple's mobile phone dominance is probably not threatened in the near term, their movie business is. UltraViolet has everyone but Disney on board (Disney is still upset over KeyChest's bombing, but they're already halfway there with their Vudu deal). As distribution contracts run out, Apple is going to be forced to join UltraViolet sooner rather than later. Both companies have digital distribution platforms that are built on piles of old code, and desperately need a ground-up rewrite to make them be more flexible and add features. Why can't I merge accounts on Steam? According to former Valve employees it's because of that backend. Why does APple have to take down Apple.com to update the Apple store? Same thing. Neither side owns content (if Valve didn't have Steam propping them up, how well do you think they'd be doing on their current release schedule?), and so if Microsoft decides to cut their knees out from under them, as the movie industry can do with iTunes, they're screwed. Apple can lock people to their devices, Microsoft and Sony the same on their consoles. Valve simply doesn't have that out of the box power, nor are they likely to ever get it.

And on a side note, if Valve thinks they can ever be a player in the mainstream without getting a real customer service department, they have a nasty surprise coming. I've had nothing but terrible experiences with the simplest of issues with them, and their lack of a phone number is handicapping them in two ways. 1- it makes a simple matter of "Steam is not displaying my serial number, I need to know it to get tech support" in to a 7 day 4 email saga (the longest being over two weeks, after they were sent all the materials they needed in the initial email) instead of a two minute phone call. End users desperately call the main number and bash random extensions trying to get help (again, this is from current and former Valve employees) to try to get help. while hardcore gamers eschew such contact, the mainstream will never put up with it.Valve claims that they can't find qualified customer service people, but since everyone else seems to be able to find them, I figure it's a lot closer to "we don't want to pay for more, and it's not costing us customers right now". And they won't be the first or the last company to achieve great success in a niche and fall on their face expanding. I personally believe the entire industry needs to move to something like UltraViolet, a master locker that's immune from going out of business that still provides complete flexibility to retailers, without any one having power to be kingmaker.

I hope this isn't too jumbled either, and that I've explained my case better, and likewise apologies if it comes off abrasive or know-it-all. I'm trying to get a lot of ideas out at once on something I've studied extensively :) I look forward to your response :)

Posted:A year ago

#31

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,590 1,446 0.9
Whilst you're quite about a few things there, I think your comment about Valve's customer service is interesting. Valve's "church" comes from the fact that they essentially saved PC gaming, and, for every thing they do wrong, they do 3 (*cough*) right. Whilst Microsoft have a vast amount of power, they simply don't understand the end-user in PC gaming, The consumer loves Valve (and by extension Steam) because of Valve's prioritisation of the consumer as number one; something which Microsoft have repeatedly shown they gon't "get". MS may be able to "crush" Valve (though I'm unsure quite how they would do that), but they wouldn't "win" PC gaming. Even EA have provided more for the consumer with Origin than MS did with GFWL, which means that MS would simply face this issue again, in the future (unless, of course, Jason Holtman instigates some absolutely major changes). (Valve do seriously need to get more/better support, though.)
All indications are that Steam Machines are going to be priced at least as high as Xbox One
Mmmm... Yes and no. It's hard to say how much manufacturers are going to subsidize the costs of them. I do think the Steam Machines are going to be a life-line to PC makers, though, so it's very much an unknown quantity. And whilst it's not relevant to the "console" market, there's almost-guaranteed to be $100 boxes that will be streaming boxes/HTPCs.

Another thing: We're assuming these boxes will be branded as Steam Machines. Another assumption, from the other side: the big names of PC manufacturing join Valve (no reason why they wouldn't, given the perilous state of the PC market). At that point, will the machines being sold be Steam-branded, or (as an example) Dell-branded? Why wouldn't Dell leap at the chance to sell a $500 gaming/media server with no OS licensing costs under the Dell brand? They already own the high-tier and slightly pretentious Alienware brand. If they (and every other manufacturer) market the Machines under their own names it then becomes "just another PC", and the lack of awareness of Steam/Valve becomes less of an issue.

I think a lot also comes down to how MS treat Windows 8, and Windows 8 is something you're basing a lot of your argument on. Right now, there's no real reason to move to Windows 8, for gamers or businesses, so the OEM market is doing a lot of heavy lifting for MS. If you remove Windows 8 from the equation, then MS have entirely left the PC gaming market. I'm running Win7, and there's nothing here of MS's gaming structure. Just like a lot of people haven't heard of Steam, non Windows 8 users won't have heard of (or at least used) the Windows 8 App Store/Marketplace. Given the intense dislike of Windows 8 - and the need to cut costs - I don't think it's unlikely for manufacturers to switch to SteamOS, and in so doing remove one of the major boosts to MS's business.

Valve's OS work is also more interesting than their Steam Machine work, especially when you look at them as a competitor to MS. They're concentrating on improving the OpenGL graphics API, since it doesn't require Windows. If they can, essentially, lead development of it, then they can lift games developer's reliance on the Windows DirectX API. Lift that reliance, and you start to remove the requirement that Windows be the necessary OS to play games. At first it seems like small beans, sure. But as the fabrication processes for chips bottom-out, a lot of improvements in graphics are going to become driver-led. At that point, if the more substantial graphics option is the one that's not Microsoft's own, then that leads developers naturally away from MS.
Both companies have digital distribution platforms that are built on piles of old code, and desperately need a ground-up rewrite to make them be more flexible and add features.
Indeed. I'm constantly surprised by the features added to Steam, considering the code is so old. Sadly, Steam's success is what has hamstrung it, in this respect.
I personally believe the entire industry needs to move to something like UltraViolet, a master locker that's immune from going out of business that still provides complete flexibility to retailers, without any one having power to be kingmaker.
Absolutely. Issues like GFWL being shut-down, or publishers going bust and taking support with them, are something unique to the games industry, and I find it pretty damn shocking that consumers and businesses have the potential to be left hanging. Even the basic infrastructure is already there with serial numbers and DRM. :/

Though that last point is something to bear in mind, actually. So many games require Steam that it will continue to be a force to be reckoned with; if Valve can continue to push the Steamworks API - and thus the requirement for Steam to be installed - then they'll continue to thrive. The alternative, especially the alternative as-would-be-proposed-by-MS, is that another client/DRM system makes itself known, and that fractures the client-base and DRM scene even more. And that's not something that's wanted by many consumers.

(And thanks for the reply - I get your skepticism a lot more now. :) )

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 29th September 2013 11:37pm

Posted:A year ago

#32

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,590 1,446 0.9

Posted:A year ago

#33

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,193 1,170 0.5
@Morville: The funny thing is the baked-in response from PC diehards may doom the controller even if it's as good as or better than a keyboard/mouse for some of them who actually TRY THE THING. I stopped reading comments once they started insulting the pad as "casual" and calling it a toy for" console idiots" and a few other things that made them sound as if they're children conditioned to hate a vegetable who end up eating it (and a lot of crow) later on when some or most of their worries are kicked in the nose.

Oh well.

And yep, that tweet IS interesting. I figured the controller would work with DIII and games like it... Valve isn't just throwing this out in the wind without some heavy testing (and that's before they get to sending those 300 out to lucky folks as part of that beta test)...

Posted:A year ago

#34

Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing

359 215 0.6
@Greg: For the record, I still hate all the vegetables I hated as a child, though I enjoy the ones I then tolerated. Don't forget that 2k has been at the forefront of bringing PC strategy to pads, expecially with their XCOM games, so that would make sense that they'd be on top of this

@Morville
That's the thing though, Microsoft doesn't need to understand anything. If you're running Windows 8 and you're online, you're already into your live account, no seperate client required like GFWL, it's just as smooth as Xbox. GFWL sucked, it was slapped together crap that didn't maintain feature parity with Xbox Live, and the whole always online thing was a nightmare no one liked. While I know people have had trouble with Sims and such, I've never had any issues with Origin, and they've given me excellent customer service (with a phone number!). I had a scratched up Battlefield disc, and they allowed me to trade that serial for an Origin copy, and we did it in about 5 minutes.

Considering that Steam's bread and butter is firesaling games, and PC doesn't move many copies to begin with, I seriously doubt they can afford to subsidize their machines much at all. Remember, Microsoft gets what, $7 a game? Call of Duty alone generates about $100 million for them every year after DLC. All the consoles this generation are being sold at approximately break-even, a $50 subsidy or whatever won't cut it, and since there are no royalties on the OS, and the people most likely to drop $60 on a digital game are the same ones who build their own PCs, that kind of plan just reads suicide to me. Like I said, a lot of these PC manufacturers have dabbled in Chrome and Linux machines before,
even at retail. Hasn't gone well. If you check AAA titles, you'll see that 5% of the copies move there. Portal 2 moved 600,000 on PC and over 3 million on console

I agree with you on Windows 8, but that hasn't stopped it moving with new PCs where it just passed MacOSX family in installed base. I think the biggest non-listening Microsoft has done to correct a bad idea (well what they think) was putting the start button back in in 8.1, without realizing that we don't care about the button, it's the menu that's attached to it. Instead, the button pops up Metro, something which people who want a start button want banished to the netherworld. If you've ever used it on a touch interface however, Win8 rocks. The problem is that I'm not touching my work computer
screen. Remember that Microsoft is chasing Joe Sixpack, who will have bought a Windows 8 PC, not your average gamer so much. I agree that a great deal of the pissiness about Origin was that "all my games aren't in the same place" issue. but since this is an OS level DRM, I don't think people would really notice. It's transparent to the end user.

Certainly NVIDIA is really motivated right now to improve OpenGL because they're seriously behind the 8-ball. AMD has just sewed up 10 year APU contracts with Microsoft and Sony, and everyone will be writing code focusing on AMD, and anything NVIDIA is going to be an afterthought unless they have a real compelling reason to spend the time on te PC version. Remember, the biggest attraction of the new consoles is that they're making it very easy to scale up along the same ladder for the PC, but the second you're going into NVIDIA exclusive OpenGL calls, this becomes less practical

Posted:A year ago

#35

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,590 1,446 0.9
(I have to go to work in a few minutes, so a more in-depth reply later, but...)
If you check AAA titles, you'll see that 5% of the copies move there. Portal 2 moved 600,000 on PC and over 3 million on console.
A slight flaw in your argument there. Yes, you say consoles beat Steam at retail. But Steam is first-and-foremost a digital store-front which, aside from a few exceptions, doesn't release sales data. Portal 2 is actually one of the few they have. In May 2012, Newell stated that Portal 2 had shipped more than 4 million units, with the personal computer versions outselling the console versions. And this is something which is underplayed in your argument - Steam's digital store-front. Steam's bread and butter is not so much firesaling games, but simply selling them well - Rome 2, as an example, had the most pre-orders of any Total War game, and you can bet most of that came from Steam itself, and not retail. And just like MS is locking in consumers with the XBox Marketplace, the SteamOS will lock in consumers to Steam. Though, obviously, the consumer has to install the OS first.

Like I say, more of a reply later. :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 30th September 2013 9:37am

Posted:A year ago

#36

Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing

359 215 0.6
Well, if it sold. 4 million, and the two console versions sales add up to thresh, someone's math is wrong.
PC game retail is still strong I. Europe where TW has its biggest market. You might be surprised. Especially because downloading 30gb sucks ;)

Posted:A year ago

#37

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
Honestly... It looks like a BOOMBOX!

But my first impression of it is indifferance... I have zero interest in it.

The two track pads dont really hype me up, nore do the controller handles, which are pointed upward. Still prefer the standard control setup, in fact I think the ps4 and WiiU have the best controllers. The only thing I dont like about the WiiU gamepad is that its big. Put it has a standard button setup and the touchscreen that offers infinit customization. I honestly couldnt ask for more.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 30th September 2013 2:40pm

Posted:A year ago

#38

Paul Shirley Programmers

178 150 0.8
@Chris Murphy: "how the device interprets the action of removing your thumb from the pad. Given that the flesh across your thumb does not leave a pad/screen at the exact same time, this action can often throw off the position of an on-screen reticle by a considerable margin"

That might be a problem porting mouse input but I struggle to believe it's going to be significantly worse than releasing a thumbstick. Input modes with no need to lift a thumb are one way to minimise the problem, it's natural and more comfortable resting on a flat surface than on the tip of a pad stick.

Posted:A year ago

#39

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,590 1,446 0.9
Remember that Microsoft is chasing Joe Sixpack, who will have bought a Windows 8 PC, not your average gamer so much.
Yeah, this is true. I still think, though, that a lot of how this plays out is down to how the OEM and PC manufacturers produce and market the Machines. If they're sold as gaming devices, I think you'll be right; but if they're sold as slimmed-down PCs that can connect to a TV... Then not so much.

Anyway, I think we're just going around in circles now. :p A lot is also happening now with industry opinions, which can easily shape what we both think will happen, and what will happen.

Posted:A year ago

#40

Christian Slater DevilBliss Games Consultancy

26 45 1.7
Thank the stars! You can always trust a thread about controllers to precipitate the widest variety of bizarre and/or wildly conflicting opinions.

To whit:

"Just iterating joypads when technology has advanced so much is really the cowards way out."

How would you prefer to control your car then Bruce? With a barge pole out of the nearside window? Or by merely shouting at it? Curse those chickensh*t automotive designers for sticking with that yellow-bellied steering wheel all these years!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Christian Slater on 30th September 2013 5:10pm

Posted:A year ago

#41

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
@Christian Slater

When I started driving cars had recirculating ball steering. Then came rack and pinion.
Then hydraulic power assistance and now electrical power assistance.
Soon cars will be self driving and will not need a steering wheel. http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/166598-frankfurt-auto-show-mercedes-shows-off-fully-autonomous-s-class-production-cars-coming-by-2020
Speaking of which my first steering wheels were just a round hoop with a horn button in the centre. Then came airbags. Then came audio functions. Now my steering wheel has a multifunction joystick equivalent that will bring up any function on the car for adjustment or parameter selection.

Posted:A year ago

#42

Tom Keresztes Programmer

684 335 0.5
Then hydraulic power assistance and now electrical power assistance.
Soon cars will be self driving and will not need a steering wheel.
But they still use a wheel. Not a joypad, a stick, or any other interface. Anything else is an option.

Posted:A year ago

#43

Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing

359 215 0.6
Tom has a good point. I won't get in a car without a wheel for backup, but I eagerly await the day when self-drive is outlawed to keep traffic moving and safe. I can't stand it. Google says that conversion will cost about $5000 on any car. When I saw one drive by at GDC, IT WAS ALL I COULD DO NOT TO CHASE IT DOWN THE STREET AND GO GTA :)

Posted:A year ago

#44

Login or register to post

Take part in the GamesIndustry community

Register now