Valve shows off Steam Controller, a touchscreen gamepad with dual trackpads

Valve has just announced the Steam Controller, a sleek, black gamepad for its PC-based game console.

The Steam Controller is Valve's third previously teased announcement for this week, as it has already unveiled SteamOS and Steam Machines. Although the gamepad looks like an average controller, it uniquely sports dual trackpads versus thumbsticks. The trackpads support haptic feedback, meaning they can deliver a wide range of force and vibration and provide granule controls for frequency, amplitude and direction of movement.

"The most prominent elements of the Steam controller are its two circular trackpads. Driven by the player’s thumbs, each one has a high-resolution trackpad as its base," explained Valve on its website. "It is also clickable, allowing the entire surface to act as a button. The trackpads allow far higher fidelity input than has previously been possible with traditional handheld controllers."

The Steam Controller also has 16 buttons, two of them on the back. Aside from trackpads and buttons, there is a touch-enabled surface in the centre of the controller. It's a high-resolution screen that supports both gestures and clicks, allowing a player to touch the screen, swipe through pages of actions, scroll through menus and more.

"In order to avoid forcing players to divide their attention between screens, a critical feature of the Steam Controller comes from its deep integration with Steam," Valve added. "When a player touches the controller screen, its display is overlayed on top of the game they’re playing, allowing the player to leave their attention squarely on the action, where it belongs."

Valve stressed that the Steam Controller is hackable. The company will therefore make tools available that will allow users and developers to participate in the gamepad's industrial design and electrical engineering. The developer API will become available free of charge when the Steam Machines beta goes live sometime later this year. Gamers who want to beta test can also sign up, and all the information on how is on Valve's website.

"We can’t wait to see what you come up with," Valve said.

Read: Valve to expand Steam's universe: Launches teaser page for announcements

Steam is a primary source for downloadable PC games and third-party games, and Valve Corporation develops it. Valve has long hinted that it intends to take on PC gaming in the living room, and it has finally confirmed rumours about what the company plans to do by announcing three gaming products this week.