Recently, news broke that Hori, a peripherals manufacturer, will be releasing an official Steam-branded controller in Japan on October 31. This marks the first time Valve has licensed the Steam branding to a third-party hardware manufacturer since the decline of Steam Machines. The announcement has sparked curiosity and speculation among gamers and tech enthusiasts alike.

The Steam Controller, though not widely embraced during its initial release, has garnered a nostalgic appreciation in retrospect. While it had its flaws, such as the lack of a second analogue stick and reliance on double-A batteries, it introduced a new level of customization for gamepad controls on PC. Despite its shortcomings, the Steam Controller was a unique and innovative device that paved the way for future advancements in gaming peripherals.

In contrast to the groundbreaking nature of the Steam Controller, the Wireless Horipad for Steam appears to be a more conventional offering. Based on Hori’s previous Horipad Pro for Xbox Series, it provides Bluetooth connectivity and programmable buttons. While it may offer some improvements over budget controllers, it lacks the innovative features that made the Steam Controller distinctive, such as drift-proof Hall Effect analogue sticks.

Valve’s Return to Hardware Licensing

Valve’s decision to partner with Hori for the Steam-branded controller signifies a reentry into the hardware licensing space. Following the underwhelming reception of Steam Machines, Valve’s foray into living room PC gaming, the company has taken a more cautious approach to hardware ventures. While the Steam Deck has been well-received, there is uncertainty about the company’s future plans for hardware development.

As Valve explores new opportunities in the hardware market, the release of the Steam-branded controller could be a sign of things to come. While it remains to be seen whether the controller will gain traction outside of Japan, it indicates Valve’s willingness to collaborate with third-party manufacturers on branded products. Whether this signals a resurgence of Steam-branded hardware or is simply a one-off project remains to be seen.

The upcoming release of the Steam-branded controller by Hori raises questions about Valve’s future hardware endeavors and the direction of Steam-branded products in the gaming industry. While the controller may not be a direct successor to the Steam Controller, it represents a new chapter in Valve’s hardware licensing partnerships. Gamers and tech enthusiasts will be eagerly watching to see how this venture unfolds and whether it leads to further innovations in the world of gaming peripherals.


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