It looks like Valve is keen to have another run at a Steam controller with news of a patent for a forthcoming device.
Discovered by Tyler McVicker, creator of the Valve News Network, and all-round expert at knowing what's next for Valve and Steam, the patent explains the plans for a handheld controller that will provide swappable controls, sounding a lot like what's worked so well for the Xbox Elite controller in the past.
It also suggests that it'll look like the previous Steam controller design albeit with a few key tweaks such as swapping the joystick for a D-pad. It also includes details about a feature that allows more customisation options for button and trigger mapping depending on the game involved, which sounds even more like the Xbox Elite controller. Where things deviate is the suggestion that the Steam controller won't just involve swappable D-pads and thumbtacks, but the ability to pull out trackpads too.
The back plate also looks to be swappable with its predecessor's backplate forming its rear paddles previously. We're guessing changing out the back plate could mean being able to swap to a design other than rear paddles, depending on what game you're playing and what you need from it.
The patent was filed in late 2018 but only published last month, so this obviously isn't going to be a fast turnaround for the device but it sounds rather appealing.
For now, there's a fair bit of speculation here. Patents are often more outlandish than the result but anything that means Valve is taking inspiration from the Xbox Elite controller is a good move. The Xbox controller is considered one of the better premium options out there in recent times and a sensible device to model plans on.
It was only last year that Valve discontinued its Steam controllers after four years of lacklustre success. We would have thought the key this time round is to ensure that configurability is simple to achieve and flexible otherwise people are liable to stick with their traditional mouse and keyboard combos. Controllers do have a place though, depending on the game, providing you're able to tweak them sufficiently for your needs. Something that can be physically swapped around seems like it could achieve this.
Watch this space. Hopefully, a new controller will be entering the field at some point.
March 26 2021 | 18:30