Right now, 300 lucky participants have a Steam Machine connected to their televisions. But the first hybrid PC/console effort from developer Valve — a living room vehicle for its indie game platform Steam — isn’t about the box itself, but the controller that makes it all run. And one Youtube(s goog) channel is giving extensive demos about the controller, and what makes it different.
Valve has poured lots of mental energy into developing the Steam Controller, a proprietary peripheral that ships with every Steam Machine (including the third-party consoles that will ultimately make up the bulk of the Steam Machine offerings). While Steam Machines can work with the traditional keyboard and mouse, it’s clear that the Steam Controller represents the biggest overture into the hybrid experience.
But gamers are a skeptical bunch, so debates have been bubbling about the Steam Controller’s value: Can it adequately replace the keyboard and mouse? Beta tester and Youtube user Trial By Game is currently running a series to give an in-depth look at how the Steam Controller plays for different types of games, and what to expect.
Check out one demo, featuring indie platformer Spelunky, below:
So, does it really beat the keyboard and mouse? It seems like the answer is much more complicated than that. The Steam Controller is designed to have flexible programming so users can map their own controller layouts. As seen in Trial By Game’s demos, that’s both a blessing and a curse — users must retrain their brains to use the controller keys differently, or painstakingly program the controller to suit individual needs. That said, it’s clear that the controller does a good job of bringing the console experience, and it does make certain games easier. It’s all about personal taste.
Trial By Game is still updating videos, posting a variety of different game genres and styles, so it’s an interesting peek into the future of Steam Machine — and the hurdles to jump through to make it all work.
This article has been updated to reflect the number of Steam Machine beta participants.