Steam Controller Review: Is it Really That Good?

Steam Controller Review
Steam Controller Review
Our Ratings
A dedicated steam button
Read pedals for racing games
Offers both wired and wireless control
Gloss finish is a dirt and fingerprint magnet
Powered by AA batteries

No matter the specification of your gaming consoles or computer, ultimately you must play with the help of external devices.

While there are a lot of motion sensor games, the dominion of games on personal computers and consoles has remained intact. It brings us to the millennial question –

Are Game controllers any good? Are they better than the keyboard and mouse combo?

In real gaming, higher control generally converts to the number of keys you can press in one go without taking your focus off the game. A simple keyboard and mouse combination offers Four-keys on the left-hand side, A, W, S, D.

Simultaneously, your mouse will be offering somewhere around two to three controls via left, right, and middle buttons, with some gameplays even requiring the scroll wheel.

Yes, a gaming mouse has more buttons, but that doesn’t directly convert to better game controls. Most of the buttons offer cosmetic changes to the game.

Using game controllers, on the other hand, can offer significantly better control because of their haptic feedback.

While there are a lot of different sorts of game controllers, here we are focusing on the life, feature, and legacy of uniquely designed Steam controller.

Steam Controller Review

Steam Controller

Valve designed an all-new controller to allow people a wide variety of PC games. During the prototype development phase, the Steam Controller was supposed to be the jack of all trades. Let’s find out its design aspects, which made it stand out from all other game controllers.

Design & Button Layout

Steam Controller Design & Button Layout

The amount of hardware on this device simply outweighed its competitors. With the added feature of fully customizable control schemes, Valve promoted users to share their favorite mapping among gaming communities.

It helped spread awareness about the best control settings for different games and advertise about the capabilities of this controller.

Design-wise, this is the first device of its kind. Steam Controller is crafted out of plastic with a combination of glossy smooth, and textured portions. Overall build quality doesn’t feel premium because of the glossy plastic, which is a fingerprint magnet.

The Steam controller features a total of 14 button arrangements. It comes with a long list of heavyweight hardware controls.

Dual Touchpads emulate owl-shaped dual trackpads for movement control. While the left trackpad offers Joystick Movement, the right trackpad controls the Joystick Camera movements. It is also highly configurable, but in general, these trackpads work as a mouse, while the right trackpads can also be configured to work as a D-pad

These are angled upwards, which causes a lot of strain on flat thumb-style gaming like in other controllers. For strain-free gaming, the trick is to use the tips of your thumbs and slide them for control.

Next to being the Letter buttons marked X, Y, A, B are quite small as compared with controllers from PS4 and Xbox.

But shoulder buttons on Steam controllers are quite stiff, requiring higher pressure for activation. It protects the gameplay from accidental presses. On the other hand, trigger buttons have exceptionally low resistance, which seems designed for specific games

Overall, the design and innovations made on this device are unique, but its strength of customization also became a headache for most users. Playing different games and customizing before playing each game was not considered an ideal thing.

Feedback and Utility

Steam Controller Feedback and Utility

While the innovation and intention behind this device were to offer an all-in-one controller. Valve tried to remove the hassle of reconfiguring by allowing configurations to be saved and shared.

Users can browse community shared configurations to eliminate the need to ever create any of their own.

But without having decided the potentially complicated mapping yourself, shared configurations can be completely foreign with a high learning curve. A Steam community layout is often a mystery box of tangled actions, layers, and modes.

Many of the games that can potentially benefit are unable to do so because of the control features. Most games aren’t designed to accept random inputs from different controllers, severely limiting the excellent control schemes.

While the hardware of a Steam controller has the potential to do anything you want, the infrastructure doesn’t exist on the game side to actually use it, and there’s a limit to what Steam can enforce by itself.

Even so, the controls offer a lot of utility in gaming because of these features.

  • HD haptics – Haptic actuators on both sides offer accurate and microsecond feedback for different actions in the game. It helps the player understand the success of a motion or boundaries in gameplay. This feature specially came in handy while playing racing or shooting games.
  • Gyroscope and Accelerometer sensors – With sensors installed on the controllers playing many gyro-specific games or transforming racing gaming into a gyro-mode offers better control and an awesome gaming experience.
  • Wireless feature – Users will have the option to either connect the Steam controller to the PC or console by using Bluetooth connectivity. As the Steam controller is powered by AA batteries, there is no requirement for an interesting charging cable in the controllers, you can keep playing by changing batteries. Each fully charged battery offers up to 80 hours of gameplay.
  • Wired Feature – For using a Steam controller on wired mode, you receive a one-meter-long USB 2.0 cable that will be required for connecting on consoles or PC.


  • A dedicated steam button
  • Read pedals for racing games
  • Offers both wired and wireless control


  • Gloss finish is a dirt and fingerprint magnet
  • Powered by AA batteries

Steam Controller Review: Is it a Worthy Keyboard-Mouse Substitute?


First-time users may find it extremely difficult to accommodate their gaming perspective using Steam game controllers. But once all the configuration changes have turned the movement to your comfort, you can simply save the configuration and use it as a starting point for setup in similar games.

But the real reason for its existence was direct because it is meant to be a usable substitute for gaming. It can be used, especially in situations where using the keyboard and mouse makes the entire setup clumsy and awkward.

It simply translates as a couch friendly substitute for keyboard and mouse gaming. But under no circumstance, it can be a substitute for an at-desk keyboard, mouse combo gaming experience.

Steam Controller Review: Can you use it with consoles?

Can you use it with consoles

Using cross-compatibility gaming adapters can be used for mapping Steam controllers to different consoles such as PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and a lot of other consoles out there.

CronusMax Plus is the best-selling compatibility adapter available on the market.

Price and Availability

The Steam controller was launched in November 2015 with a price of $49.99 in the United States, with shipments slowly being released for the UK and European markets. It was willingly discontinued in 2019, and ever since, they are sometimes openly available on e-commerce websites or used products websites.

With Valve having learned the lesson the hard way with user consensus for its poor build quality and shorter control buttons, it is almost obvious for a Version 2.0 release.

Steam Controller Alternatives

For better or worse, the steam controller is no longer officially available for purchasing. In case you were really interested in purchasing the stream controller, don’t be disheartened by this news. There are a plethora of game controllers that you can try.

That being said the best alternatives to the steam controllers are mentioned below:

1. Razer Wolverine Tournament Edition

Razer Wolverine Tournament Edition

Razer Wolverine is a sleek looking gaming controller with a similar design. Wired architecture assures the lowest lags while making inputs. You can get this model for around $120.

2. Xbox Core Controller 

Xbox Core Controller

You can try your hands at the popular model from Xbox, the core controller is compatible with all Xbox platforms and Windows 10. You can get this model for just $89.


While playing on a PC you will be most competitive with a keyboard and mouse set-up, if you want the PC versions can also adapt to an identical control assistant to the consoles, and it works simply fine. Moreover, games adept with aim-control work massively better with a thumbpad.

But will you become a pc multiplayer competitive gamer with this controller? Well, with some practice you can give those against other players using mouse set-up. But the performance of this is controlled in single-player AI bot games.

Steam controllers can certainly deliver an experience that feels better and offer you the feeling of more control over the gameplay. Valve also made subsequent upgrades to this device, so it will be a surprise to see how Stream Controller 2 comes out.


1. Why is Steam Controller discontinued?

Steam controllers were under development for a long time and were designed to revolutionize the couch playing potential of PC games. But after much criticism over its build quality and sub-premium product, Valve finally decided to shut down its experiment. It will be interesting to see if Valve ever decides to launch an upgraded model.

2. What is the Steam Controller good for?

The primary advantage of the Steam controller was its trackpads and the thought of delivering a keyboard-mouse substitute for gaming. The idea behind this project was truly amazing, but user reception was not as immediate as it perhaps should have been. Today, the Steam controller is one of the most sought-after gaming controllers among true blue gamers.

3. Will there be a new Steam Controller 2?

While any hope of getting a Steam controller in 2021 is limited to rare auctions, the fact that Valve has patented a new elite game controller is a positive sign. Whatever the release plans may be, it is interesting and exciting to learn about this patent. In a way, it gives affirmation that Steam Controller 2 is underway though. It will be more so fascinating to get any confirmation from Valve or Steam.

4. Where can I get a Steam Controller?

Getting a Steam controller was a tough nut even during 2015 because of release in limited countries. In 2021, when the device has already been discontinued you will have a better chance with an offline game store or on Amazon. In case they have extra unsold products, you can get your hands on them.

Another possible way could be searching used devices selling websites. Most e-commerce sellers are already sold out on Steam controllers, or they have delisted the product.