The biggest difference between the Steam Controller and familiar products like the Playstation and Xbox gamepads is the lack of analogue sticks – replaced instead with a a pair of track pads similar to those you’d find on a laptop. Valve hope that having a control resolution approaching that of a conventional mouse will appeal to PC gamers, as well as making RTSes and other genres which typically struggle on a gamepad more controller-friendly. The Steam Controller will also feature ‘dual linear resonant actuators’ which aim to make up for the less physical nature of the trackpads when compared to traditional analogue sticks by providing more precise vibration feedback.
Valve also state that their new gamepad will be compatible with the entire Steam catalogue, including older games and those not designed to be used with a controller. The touch screen which will occupy the centre of the final device will differ from those of other controllers by being clickable, giving the user a similar amount of control as one would have with a laptop trackpad. I for one am looking forward to trying this genuinely different approach to the gamepad when it releases next year.