The beauty of a product that hasn't been released yet is that the company can redesign it as many times as necessary. Valve's upcoming Steam controller has already seen two different designs, but a new image reveals a possible third that finally adds an analog stick.
The information comes from the Steam Database Twitter account, which trawls through Steam files and shares interesting new findings with the Internet. Its latest unearthed picture shows a tentative design for a 15-button controller that may supersede its earlier models.
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The Steam controller has been an idiosyncratic beast from the start, and one of its most unusual features was replacing traditional analog sticks with two circular touchpads. These pads would, in theory, make it possible to play traditional PC genres (like real-time strategy and simulation) on a console-style controller.
If Valve is indeed adding an analog stick, then it's possible that the touchpads have not been as effective as the company originally hoped. Right now, a handful of fans and developers have access to gaming rigs that run on SteamOS and Steam controllers in order to provide Valve feedback. The feedback was, it seems, "this needs an analog stick."
Otherwise, the controller is much as it was before, with the usual assortment of face and shoulder buttons, plus the two touchpads. The new design only incorporates a single analog stick, meaning that users will have to control the camera some other way (likely with one of the touchpads).
The controller may undergo further revisions, but for now, Valve seems to be willing to make one very big concession to traditional peripheral design. Expect to see a final version of the controller as well as the large-scale debut of Steam machines in 2015.