I’ve been waiting for this PC controller for years — so why am I sad?

A violet and white Wireless Horipad for Steam controllers sitting on a desk in front of a keyboard.
(Image credit: Hori)

Valve could never entirely manage to get the Steam Controller to take off. We called it “a master of none” at the time, and it goes back to a pre-Steam Deck era when The House that Gabe Newell Built struggled to crack the hardware/peripheral market. Remember when Steam Machines were a thing? 

There’s a lot of competition out there regarding choosing one of the best PC game controllers, and now Valve is finally having a second stab at a Steam controller. The twist? The Half-Life developer/publisher just isn’t making it this time out. 

Instead, the company has turned to Hori, a longtime manufacturer of gaming peripherals. Called the “Wireless Horipad for Steam” (thanks, The Verge), I think it’s a lovely-looking gamepad that instantly reminds me of the outstanding Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

The Wireless Horipad comes in four different colors (black, white, yellow and violet), can be connected either wirelessly over Bluetooth or wired via USB-C, sports a dedicated Steam Big Picture button, and has four additional inputs — two at the rear of the pad, the other two located under the D-Pad and right analog stick. 

There are a significant couple of “BUTs,” though. First, Hori’s Steam controller is currently only scheduled to be released in Japan, where it will launch on Oct 31 for 7,890 yen. That’s around $50, which I’d consider a pretty fair price and one I’d be happy to pay if and when the pad hopefully gets a U.S. / U.K. / larger worldwide release at some point in the future.

Letting off Steam

Wireless Horipad for Steam in violet, white and black against a blue background.

(Image credit: Hori)

Considering Hori sells many peripherals in both the States and on the shores of my frigid Blighty, I’m optimistic I’ll get the chance to buy this officially licensed Steam gadget without being forced to pay exorbitant import charges. 

The other problem? The Wireless Horipad doesn’t support rumble, which is a blow if you like palm-shaking feedback. Still, I love this newly announced controller’s design; I can about get over that omission. I think the white and black versions look particularly fetching — though the latter appears closer to the shade of deep navy of the Steam store than noir, at least to my eyes.  

After years of being frustrated by my Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2’s dongle continually needing to be repaired with my pad every time I booted up my PC, then subsequent frustrations with the Bluetooth connection on my DualSense Edge dropping out far too often, I’m hoping Hori can provide me with a more reliable wireless alternative. 

I’ve been a fan of Hori’s products for a while now and regularly use one of the company’s peripherals to house my Nintendo Switch OLED. Speaking of which…

The Hori Nintendo Switch Split Pad Pro Controller is on sale for $42 at Amazon at the time of writing. That’s a nice $7 saving, considering this pleasingly chunky attachable pad normally retails for $49. I find its spaced-out ergonomic design to be a much more natural fit for my hands than using a pair of cramped Joy-Cons in Handheld mode. 

The Hori Split Pad Pro: was $49 now $42 @ Amazon

The Hori Split Pad Pro: was $49 now $42 @ Amazon
We consider the Hori Split Pad Pro as the best Joy-Con alternative. With large joysticks, a duo of programmable rear buttons, a comfy D-pad, and a turbo mode, it’s a great choice for older Nintendo fans who find using their Switch in Handheld mode with the Joy-Cons to be overly cramped.  

Back to the Wireless Horipad for Steam, I’m crossing all my digits. Valve greenlights a worldwide release for early 2025, at the latest. As someone who has barely played his consoles this year because I can’t tear myself away from the best Steam games — whether on my Steam Deck OLED or one of the best gaming PCs — I really want a reliable, officially branded Valve controller. 

The company set a pretty low bar to vault over with the Steam Controller, released in 2015 before being quietly discontinued in 2019. Sporting unreliable trackpads, only one stick, and generally looking like a sad owl, Valve’s peripheral was a total bust.

I’m hoping Hori can do far greater justice to Steam fans than the platform’s actual custodian was capable of regarding controllers. 

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Dave Meikleham
UK Computing Editor

Dave is a computing editor at Tom’s Guide and covers everything from cutting edge laptops to ultrawide monitors. When he’s not worrying about dead pixels, Dave enjoys regularly rebuilding his PC for absolutely no reason at all. In a previous life, he worked as a video game journalist for 15 years, with bylines across GamesRadar+, PC Gamer and TechRadar. Despite owning a graphics card that costs roughly the same as your average used car, he still enjoys gaming on the go and is regularly glued to his Switch. Away from tech, most of Dave’s time is taken up by walking his husky, buying new TVs at an embarrassing rate and obsessing over his beloved Arsenal.