Steam Controller 2. Oh no, Valve 'want to make it happen'

Steam Deck with Steam controller

I had hoped this day would never come. I hoped I'd never have to write this story. But Valve wants to make a Steam Controller 2 happen. Now, I know that for some of you, for some reason, that will make for wonderful reading, that you'll be ecstatic at the news that Gabe's gang is looking to create a new version of its hollow, awkward, jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none controller.

But you're obviously wrong to be excited. The original Steam Controller was rubbish, and deserved to be discontinued way earlier than its 2019 kill date.

I mean, I didn't always feel like that. Gabe unveiled the first Steam Machines during CES circa 2014 at a surprisingly intimate off-Strip soirée, and that's where I got my hands on some production prototypes of the Steam Controller. And it felt good. Solid, actually kinda responsive, but admittedly with a steep learning curve.

The steep learning curve remained when we got the final units sent through, but they no longer felt good. They felt cheap and hollow, and I still retch just thinking of those rear-placed buttons.

And so when I read the Verge interview asking Steam Deck designer, Lawrence Yang, about the prospect of making a new version of the old pad, my blood ran cold.

"Yeah, we want to make it happen," says Yang. "It's just a question of how and when."

"I think it's likely that we'll explore that because it's something we wanted as well," he continues. "Right now, we’re focusing on the Deck."

The fact that I've been so impressed with the Steam Deck in terms of its build quality and effectiveness does mitigate some of my concerns, and the Index VR HMD is one of the best around, so Valve's most recent hardware ventures have yielded great results.

Valve Index virtual reality headset on a table front right angle.

(Image credit: Future)
Steam in your hands

Steam Deck with an image from Elden Ring overlayed on the screen

(Image credit: Future, FromSoftware)

Steam Deck review: Our verdict on Valve's handheld PC.
Accessories for the Steam Deck: Get decked out
Steam Deck availability: How to get one.
Steam Deck battery life: What's the real battery life of the new device?
Steam Deck - The emulation dream machine: Using Valve's handheld hardware as the ultimate emulator.

Though there's no guarantee that a Steam Controller 2 would actually be made by Valve itself. "It's definitely something where we’d be excited to work with a third-party or explore ourselves," says Yang.

Who would you trust to make a decent second-gen Steam Controller? Razer, Logitech, Scuf?

Fundamentally, however, I still feel for a desktop PC, that can have either a dedicated controller or keyboard and mouse plugged into it, I don't think Valve's responsive touchpads offer a solution that betters either of them. They're great on the Steam Deck because of what the device is—you can't use any of those other peripherals with it and maintain its handheld orientation.

I'm aware of the love others have for the OG Steam pad, and of the expected cries of not giving it enough chance, that if I had only persevered I'd find that it's almost as good as a mouse and keyboard. But hey, I've got a mouse and keyboard, thanks.

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.