We are gathered here today to bid farewell to the Steam Controller, the little gamepad that could in some cases, but couldn’t in others, because it made people’s hands hurt. Its haptic pads are tickling the fingers of angels now.
Valve’s maiden foray into the world of long-distance game manipulation was on sale for £4 – 90 percent off its original price. At the time of publishing though, they're already all sold out here in the UK. The Verge touched bases with Valve and found out that after the current batch of Steam Controllers, there won’t be any more.
It’s a bit of a bummer. On one hand, the Steam Controller is perhaps the most customisable controller ever conceived, with a small but dedicated community creating custom configurations for nearly every game under the sun, modding the controller itself, and even coming up with clever control schemes for people with disabilities and others for whom more traditional controllers aren’t an option. But on the other, awkwardly clenched hand, the rumble-based haptic pads – which took the place of more traditional joysticks – never quite felt comfortable, despite their tremendous versatility. The Steam Controller was a fascinating experiment whose legacy lives on in things like Valve’s Index VR controllers, which give off impressively nuanced haptic feedback.
At this point, it’s not clear if Valve will ever take another crack at the Steam Controller concept. Kotaku emailed Valve to ask if a Steam Controller 2.0 is in the cards, but did not hear back in time for publication. For now, the company’s hardware endeavours seem pointed in the direction of virtual reality, especially with Half-Life: Alyx on the way. As such, I think it’s only appropriate that we all press F – or whatever Steam Controller button you’ve mapped F to – to pay respects to the little controller that did its best and looked like a cool robot owl while doing it. That’s more than most of us can say, and for that, it should be applauded.