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Steam Controller hands-on: It's only weird until it works

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Valve's new Steam Controller is unlike any other gamepad we've ever used. At first, it's kind of a clumsy, alien experience trying to come to grips with Valve's solution for bringing control of PC games to the living room. But after spending some time with the Steam Controller at CES, its unusual design starts to make sense and, soon, feel natural. And then, it clicks.

During a private demo at Valve's CES booth, Polygon got to spend ample time with the Steam Controller and one of the creators who knows it well, Jeff Bellinghausen. He's been evangelizing what the game pad is capable of, from first-person shooters like Portal 2 to turn-based strategy games to indie games like Papers, Please.

Bellinghausen walked us through Valve's current implementation, legacy mode, which translates controller inputs into keyboard presses and mouse movement. The company has full Steamworks API integration coming soon, to Valve's own games and third-party titles, which should make the Steam Controller experience even better.

Watch the video above for an introduction to the Steam Controller, our thoughts on the unique game pad and our interview with Bellinghausen for additional insight into Valve's strategy. For more from our interview with Bellinghausen, read about Valve's plans to support games like Dota 2 natively with the Steam Controller.

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