The first iteration of Valve’s controller was rather unique. It boasted a large touchscreen in the center, with four oddly-placed physical buttons in the corners. The most notable feature of the controller, however, was the touchpads that replaced traditional joysticks. Since the initial unveiling, Valve has made some changes to the controller. In January they replaced the touchscreen with physical buttons and in May they decided to delay the controller so they could have more time to improve it. Now, it looks like Valve is planning to change the controller once again.
SteamDB recently discovered a hidden file in the latest Steam client that reveals the layout of the new controller. If you navigate to the “tenfoot\resource\images\library” folder of the Steam installation, a labeled diagram of the new controller can be found. The image shows us Valve has vastly changed the design once again, and this time they around they made the controller a bit more traditional.
The biggest change with the controller is the addition of a thumbstick. The new thumbstick replaces the d-pad of the previous version and is situated below the left touchpad. Traditionally, the controlstick on the left-hand side of the controller is used for movement. However, with both a thumbstick and a touchpad on the left hand side it’s unclear as to which one will be used for movement. The joystick will most likely feel more natural to most, however due to it’s placement it looks like the touchpad is supposed to be the primary input.
While the thumbstick is the biggest change in the new design, it is not the only feature that is added. In the middle of the controller, there is a large round button between two smaller oval buttons. They closely relate to the Xbox’s guide and start/select buttons, so the functions will likely be similar. Valve also added a button on each shoulder of the controller labelled “LG” and “RG”. These buttons appear to be located right behind the touchpads and are most likely large paddles, but they are not visible in the leaked image. Finally, the buttons on the right hand side were also labeled as A,B,X, and Y much like the Xbox’s controller.
Valve’s controller originally shocked a lot of gamers due to the extremely unique layout of the controller. Now, Valve seems to be stepping back towards more traditional means of input. It is unclear why Valve wants to make this change, as a lot of people seem impressed from the first prototype. The removal of the d-pad will also most likely upset gamers who enjoy fighting games, as they typically prefer a d-pad over an analog stick. Fortunately, there is still a lot of time for Valve to work on the controller, considering they delayed it until 2015. Valve explained the reason for the delay was to provide us with “the best gaming experience possible.” Fortunately, Valve is known for pleasing their fans, so we can expect great things from their controller in the end.
Sources: TomsHardware, SteamDB