At Monday's Steam Machine press event for CES 2014, Valve's Gabe Newell made an off-hand comment during his ever-so-brief Q&A section that, while the company is responsible for producing Steam Controllers, other companies may make them as well. It was a surprising statement—it's long been assumed that Valve would use its control of the Steam Controller design to help steer the direction of the 14 Steam Machines created by various hardware manufacturers. After all, you can't call yourself a Steam Machine without including the gamepad and its owl-like dual trackpad design.
These supposed third-party Steam Controllers are not happening any time soon, however. In an interview at day two of CES 2014, Valve Steam Machine designer Greg Coomer told PC Gamer that the first round of production for the controllers will come directly from Valve.
"The current plan for launch is for the Steam Controller to be made by Valve under the Steam Hardware brand," Coomer says. "We will be supplying all the OEMs with controllers."
But Valve doesn't want to control the controller forever. "Longer term, though, like, philosophically – and practically, I guess – we have no problem with other manufacturers participating in the production of those controllers and making design decisions that are different." The ability to open up the design process for Steam Controllers seems to be right in line with Valve's position of making PC gaming in the living room as open as possible. "We're actually pretty excited to have that happen. We think it completely makes sense."
When asked for further details on how that collaboration would work, such as Valve owning a master specification for the controller or just how far hardware OEMs could go with their designs, Coomer couldn't provide much more info. Will the changes be as simple as cosmetic differences, or include some manufacturers leaving out specific parts of the features? Coomer had no other details. But at least for the first round, we're expecting Valve and its partners to create a controller that replaces the keyboard and mouse for living room PCs. Here's hoping they can deliver on their promise.