When the gamepad controller by Valve was released in 2015, Steam Controller reviews from mainstream websites were lukewarm. In contrast, many Steam Gamers have expressed that they feel that the Steam Controller is underrated. Now after several years, let’s look back at Steam Controller for Steam Gaming.
What is Steam Controller?
How is Steam Controller Different from Other Gamepad Controllers?
Unlike other gamepad controllers, the Steam Controller features dual clickable trackpads instead of the typical sticks, though it does have one analog stick. The trackpads emulate mouse movements and allow you to play any Steam game, even those that are typically played using a keyboard and a mouse. You can also program them to serve any game needs.
What are the Other Features of Steam Controller?
The Steam Controller touchpad includes HD haptic feedback which can send tactile feedback to the player in reaction to the events in the game.
It also features gyroscope and accelerometer sensors for tilt-to-steer racing wheel functionality and other motion-controlled input.
The Steam Controller also has dual-stage triggers which are great for shooting games.
It uses AA batteries that can last for around 80 hours of standard gameplay depending on the usage, type of batteries used and other factors.
Steam Controller Layout
As mentioned, the Steam Controller has a left and right trackpad and an analog stick on the lower middle left portion of the gamepad. The left trackpad is designed differently from the right as it is made to look like a directional pad that we see in typical game controllers. However, functionally, they are the same. You can configure them both to work the way you want. We’ll get more into that later.
You will also find the Steam button and left and right button in the middle, in between the two trackpads. Like X Box, it also features abxy buttons on the lower middle part, shoulder button and triggers.
There are also two programmable paddles at the back.
Steam Controller Setup
The Steam Controller comes with two AA batteries, a wireless dongle, a USB cable, and a brick extender.
To connect your controller to your PC, plug in the dongle to your PC and then pair the device by going to the controller settings on Steam. Add Steam Controller and then follow the instructions on the screen. You can also connect your Steam Controller to your PC using the USB cable.
Configuring Steam Controller
Launch your game in Steam in the Big Picture mode, then press the Steam Logo button on the controller. Select configure controller and then hit the A button. This will bring you to the controller configuration screen.
From here, you can select the buttons and change how each one would work. For example, you can set the left trackpad as a directional pad, or mouse, or scroll wheel, etc. You can also adjust the haptic intensity of the trackpads and trigger buttons. Once you are satisfied with your choices, hit Y to save the configurations. You have the option to mark it as private or public. Choosing public allows you to share your config to the workshop which will allow other people to use it.
You can also choose pre-made configuration by hitting the X button to browse configs. There you will find recommended config, your saved config (if any), community created configs, and templates. Under the templates you will find the options gamepad, keyboard and mouse, and gamepad with high precision camera/aim, and gamepad with mouse and gyro.
Steam Controller Pros
One of the things that Steam Controllers fans like about this gamepad controller is that it is highly customizable as discussed above. Even if you don’t have the patience for customization, you can use the user-generated configurations you can find in the Steam Community.
Another great feature of the controller is its gyro aiming to make it great for playing racing and first-person shooting games.
Another advantage of the Steam Controller is that it works with all Steam Games regardless of the Operating System, whether you are using Mac, Linux, or Windows.
The included Steam Controller dongle allows you to link up to four controllers at once, allowing you to play local multiplayer PC games.
Steam Controller Cons
The Steam Controller promises that it can be used in games that don’t typically support game controllers. But sometimes it doesn’t work as expected and you might need to configure the controller to make it work better. While you can find community-made configurations for the controller, not everyone has the patience to reconfigure their controller just to play a different game.
If you’re used to other gamepad controllers, you may find that it takes a while to get used to the Steam Controller.
Some people also find that the build quality seems cheap.
If you want to play non-Steam games with this controller, it may not work as well as you want it to and you may have to tweak it a lot to get it to work.
Why Was Steam Controller Discontinued?
The Steam Controller wasn’t a commercial success and Valve stopped producing them in 2019.
The reviews that came out during the initial release of Steam Controller were pretty bad. Many Steam Controller fans pointed out that most of the reviewers just decided that Steam Controller was bad based on a few hours of play. Some reviewers did not even test the full features of the controller like the gyro aiming.
That said, there were also some real issues with the controller during its first release that contributed to why it did not become a commercial success. In the early days of the Steam Controller, there were compatibility issues with many games. This has caused a lot of frustration among gamers who bought the controller. The said issues have since been mostly resolved but it took a while. Community solutions have also made it possible to work around some of the remaining issues but that may be too late.
Also, being highly customizable is a double-edged sword. On one hand, gamers can customize the controller to their heart’s content. On the other hand, most gamers just want a plug-and-play device.
Because Steam Controller was drastically different from the other controllers during that time, it could just be that it was ahead of its time. Recently, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are incorporating some features that are found in the Steam Controller into their controllers. Nintendo Switch and Sony’s Dual Sense both feature HD haptics and gyro aiming. X Box Elite controller, on the other hand, has customizable paddles.
Despite Steam Controller’s failure to capture the game controller market, there are many SC stans that call for the revival of the device. Will Valve revive the Steam Controller? So far, Valve has made no announcement about their plans to put the Steam Controller back in production.
The Steam Controller is not at bad as the initial reviews for it have made it out to be, but it is not for everyone.
Steam Controller delivers its promise-it allows you to play traditional PC games with a game controller.
The high level of customization may appeal to gamers who love tinkering and customizing their device. However, most people just want a controller that they can use without having to bother with the details.
But despite the commercial failure of the product, many gamers find the Steam Controller as a great alternative to other gamepad controllers.
So should you buy Steam Controller in 2022? If you play a lot of PC games on your TV and if you’re the type of person who doesn’t mind customizing to make your gaming perfect, then you might just enjoy using Steam Controller. You can still buy it on Amazon.
However, if you’d rather play PC games on your desktop or if you don’t want to deal with customizing the controller to make it work seamlessly with your games, then you might be better off sticking with the keyboard and mouse or using a different controller.