Valve may not have had much success with its original Steam Controller but a recently published patent suggests that the company could be considering another version.
The original Steam Controller launched in 2015 but, after four years of struggling to find its feet, it was discontinued and finally sold out at the tail end of 2019. In our review for the controller we rated it three stars out of five and praised its innovation and customisation capabilities but found its awkward design a real drawback.
The patent (opens in new tab) for this new version, originally filed in late 2018 before being published in 2020, was tweeted out (Via PCGamesN (opens in new tab)) by Valve News Network’s Tyler McVicker who pointed out an intriguing aspect of the controller's design: swappable components.
A new patent has been published from Valve of a Steam Controller with swap-able components. pic.twitter.com/8X5IiKIHvmApril 11, 2020
In the vein of the Xbox Elite controller, the patent details that this new Steam Controller would feature changeable parts, though it appears it would take this customizability even further.
The patent says that the controller would allow for the “dynamic swapping of controls for changing the configuration of the controller to meet the needs of different applications”. It goes on to describe specific scenarios where a user might swap a joystick for a D-pad, depending on what their game calls for, or even swapping a tall joystick for a shorter one simply to suit personal preference and comfort.
It seems that the controller would be customizable front and back, too, with the patent describing instances where the controller may have “one or more joysticks, one or more D-pads, one or more track pads, one or more buttons, one or more accessibility controls” on its front as well as “one or more detachable top-surface controls, back-surface controls”.
The patent also mentions software with the ability to detect which input is being used in the controller and even communicate this to the platform the user is playing on, saying that “if a controller currently couples to a back cover having four buttons as opposed to two, then a gaming application or platform may recommend games that are compatible with …the four-button back cover.”
As with any patent filing, however, it’s worth pointing out that there’s no guarantee that Valve is actually going ahead with the product detailed. Even if it was, there's also no guarantee that this new product would take the form it does in the design drawings—things can change a lot between patent filing and production, if production happens at all.
At the moment, Valve hasn’t made any official announcements with regards to plans for a new controller but if something was in the works it’d certainly be interesting to see whether it can get it right a second time around.
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