Waiting to get your hands on an official Steam Machine but have been waiting for the controller to ship? Us, too. Over a year has passed since the introduction of the Valve-designed Steam Controller, which is a key ingredient in the Steam Machine recipe. Vendors can't ship a Steam Machine without it, thus they're forced to release their solutions early and packed with an Xbox controller or similar solution.
So when will Valve's Software's controller be ready for the masses? As it stands now, the device may never see the light of day. The controller was originally set for a 2014 release, but thanks to tons of feedback from the beta participants, Valve decided to delay its release to 2015. The controller also saw its first redesign in July, and now an image supplied with the most recent Steam beta shows yet another design change.
According to the previous layout, the controller included two touch pads, an analog stick on the left and the four ABXY buttons on the right. Also included were Stop and Play media buttons, two shoulder buttons, two trigger buttons, and two buttons on the sides labeled "LG" and "RG." The new layout doesn't stray far from that design.
On Tuesday ValveTime reported that it discovered a new image of the controller in the latest Steam Client update. The site points out that the left touch pad now includes a four-point directional guide. The image doesn't label the new feature, so its official purpose is unknown as of this writing. However, we assume that the left touch pad will offer a more accurate means to in-game movement than if the company merely offered a standard D-Pad.
Valve's quest to make a revolutionary controller seems to have taken a step back, becoming more like an Xbox controller as we get closer to 2015. Sure, the touch pads are unique to the controller form factor, but given that we don't have access to the "beta" device, we can't say this type of input is better than what's already offered on store shelves. The addition of an analog stick shows that we're not ready to discard the designs we've been accustomed to for decades.
Given that it's the end of 2014, we expect to see the controller undergo even more design changes before it's released to the masses in 2015. Based on the most recent image, the controller looks like it should be done and ready for gamers. However, the beta participants may disagree.