Make no bones about it, the Steam Controller is a strange product. I’ve used one for six months and I still can’t decide whether it’s any good or not. That doesn’t seem to have stopped it being a surprising success though, with Valve revealing more than 400,000 Steam Controllers have been sold since its November launch. That’s roughly 399,000 more than I expected, in truth.
Not bad going considering the Steam Controller’s niche usage, but Valve being Valve it’s not stopping there, with changes already in the pipeline. "In the future, we are working on a hardware revision to the controller to improve look and feel," said Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais during a GDC presentation.
"But we're pretty happy with the feature set we have now and do not intend to drastically change it, or even change it at all", he added. "Maybe we'll throw extra features in here or there, but the controller's not gonna grow a new touchpad, or a new set of buttons, or a new major feature."
From my point of view the Steam Controller could do with a pretty major ergonomic redesign. While the feature set is fantastic it can be a little unwieldy, which isn’t helped by cheap feeling buttons. There’s certainly some room to grow it here and make it a more popular choice for games which are already designed with gamepads in mind; at the moment it feels totally usurped by the DualShock 4 and Xbox One controller in these situations.
All that said I've used it for recent run-throughs of Portal 2 and Half-Life 2 and it's been pretty fantastic, so much of the problems might stem from the fiddly set-up process required to get most games 'just right'.
How do you feel about the Steam Controller? What would you change to improve the device?