Technically, a Valve is a controller for Steam
Valve Corporation may have not ditched its dreams of having a successful Steam controller. Or at least the company did have a promising plan. Today’s published patent reveals its plan of a new controller with swappable components and hot-swap feature which remaps the key automatically.
Behold the new design!
The next iteration of the Steam Controller has swappable docks. It allows you to swap between analog sticks, trackball, D-pad and the trackpad. With the exception of a trackball, the rest of the modular controls seem to have an interface plug. The end-user can swap two control components per controller.
This seems hot-swappable as the patent filing indicates the computer will automatically remap the in-game’s controller according to the modular components. The ‘detection’ of the modular input control also indicated the hot-swap feature.
The controller has both wired and wireless input options, based on the patent notes.
Why did the OG OP controller got dumped in a bargain bin?
The main issue with Steam Controller is the lack of mapping support from Valve. As observed earlier, many loved the original Steam controller. Many were frustrated as Valve and many of Steam’s listed game devs hardly provided any optimised keymaps. Therefore, the Steam controller used its generic controller keymaps. While this shouldn’t be an issue with most game controllers, the steam controller was unique due to its trackpads. Because of the void and lack of promotion post its release, it ended up selling for 5$ in the United States in a clearance sale.
Will Valve work on this?
Eventually, they will. The patent was filed in the year 2009 and the patent was granted in 2012. But it was only recently that the Application status is now active and published in public. It is set to expire on the 3rd August 2030. The failure of the OG Steam controller should make them wiser. If it does work, maybe Steam machines concept will be revisited and introduced with full force. They need to get themselves and the listed game developers to fine-tune its signature controller.
Other manufacturers to follow?
Of course, other peripheral manufacturers make game controllers. To be fair, PC game controller variants isn’t on the priority- unlike keyboard, mouse, mousepad and headsets. That’s a shame, given that games like Rocket League and other controller-specific games are widely played worldwide. Even if any peripheral makers decide to get on board, there would be challenges if it doesn’t mirror some of Steam’s functions. The auto-load up of keymaps based on the modular components will need to run through its own software. Companies like Razer could pull it off considering the resources they put out and also its Synapse cloud utility. Fine-tuning trackpad’s sensitivity might be a challenge. Game controllers for PC is a topic that not a lot of people talk about. Valve always had that ability to justify the work as the plethora of games and game devs can bring up regular optimizations. These are nothing short of best guesses, of course.
Game controller market situation!
Mostly its dominated by either low-cost controllers (like the one I reviewed) and a set of Xbox controllers from its 360 days. Some companies like Thrustmaster do make them… and that’s it. Still, it looks very promising. So we’ll see how things move forward.
— Hardware BBQ (@HardwareBBQ) April 11, 2020