Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Thoughts on the Steam Controller

Posted by Rampant Coyote on December 21, 2015

SteamController1In conjunction with the Steam Machines and so forth, Valve has launched a new game controller specifically designed to handle PC games. I picked one up, but I haven’t spent a whole lot of time with it. That’s actually an issue a lot of people have had with it. I’ve heard from some people who have used it a lot and love it, but it seems more people have been like me… tried it, shrugged, and chalked it up to a wasted $50, going back to their XBox controllers and the trusty keyboard + mouse.

At least I know I haven’t given it a fair shot yet, and I’m still trying to use it when and where I can. It’s something that takes getting used to, which means not playing a game particularly well for a while. One of the tricks, too, is that this isn’t really supposed to replace an existing USB game controller… it’s supposed to replace the keyboard and mouse. That’s a tall order.

For me, part of my problem is how I hold the controller. I tend to grip it more tightly and don’t leave my middle fingers on the shoulder buttons, which means I hit the paddle buttons on the bottom of the controller. It’s cool that they are there, but they are also kind of in the way. However, if I hold the controller more gently with two fingers resting on the shoulders, this shifts my grip and I hold it more easily.

I also keep hitting the right touchpad with my thumb, which moves the mouse around. That pad is just a natural place to rest my thumb. Maybe it’s just a learned thing from using other controllers over the last 20 years, but I have to get used to either keeping my thumb absolutely still in the dead-center of the touchpad, or resting it on the buttons.

Whatever the case, I suspect there may be some changes in a year or two with a Steam Controller 2.0, but I don’t feel the controller is fundamentally flawed. I’m not sure I’ll ever prefer using it over a keyboard and mouse, though. This controller is primarily for “couch gaming,” which was never really my thing. It may be a better way to play some PC games, however. And if I do make some forays into VR gaming, this might be just the thing.

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