Mac computers were at the receiving end of many jokes due to the lack of games in the platform – this is a half-truth at this point. There are dozens of great games on the Mac App Store and though the catalog is not as wide compared to PC, we can safely say that it is bound to come a bit closer to PC in terms of gaming in the future.
Steam, everybody’s “favorite” (depending on whom you ask) gaming client, recently released its very own Steam Controller, which is primed up to be a game controller for the Mac. And yes, this is what most Mac gamers (if such people exist) are looking forward to: a way to finally play games like XCOM Enemy Unknown and Total War without having to use the keyboard and mouse. It’s definitely an accessory people who are looking to play games on the Mac should avail. This may also potentially open the floodgates to more games to enter the Apple market.
However, before you rush to the online Steam Store and order yours, there’s one thing to keep in mind: the Steam Controller for Mac doesn’t actually work yet.
Bummer. Why isn’t it working?
Both the Steam Link – the device streaming games from your computer to your TV – and the Steam Controller for Mac doesn’t work on Apple Computers due to some sort of temporary software issue. The contents of the Steam’s apologetic email to its customers state:
“…Unfortunately, there are some there are some temporary software issues that prevent the hardware from functioning with Macs. We expect these problems to be resolved as we update firmware and drivers over the next few weeks.”
Fortunately, this means Steam is working to fix these issues: we could see the Steam Controller for Mac in working order in less than a month. The email also added:
“…The Steam Controller doesn’t currently support gamepad emulation on Macs. If you opt into the Steam Beta client, keyboard and mouse emulation will be functional. We expect gamepad emulation to become functional within a few weeks. We want to apologize for the delays in providing full functionality for the Mac platform. We’re doing everything we can to resolve the issues.”
Valve, owner of Steam, is also giving the affected users the Valve Complete Pack, giving you access to all of Valve’s games – past, present, and future. You can choose to refund your hardware, but you can still get the VCP – not a bad offer. We just hope Valve sends an email confirming Half-Life 3 as well.
Hands on with the Steam Controller for Mac
If you expected it to feel like your standard PlayStation DualShock or Xbox controller, then you might be a bit conflicted with what Valve has come out with. The initial design for the Steam controller was scrapped – thank heavens – though it still looks more like an oddball, with its buttons and lone analog stick placed in the middle.
Anyway, the four buttons in the middle follow Xbox’s layout and format (X,A,Y,B) and the single analog stick resembles DualShock and it’s depressible too. The three buttons on the middle are consist of the standard start and select buttons and Steam’s version of the DualShock’s “Home Button”. At the back of each of the grip, there are buttons which are comparable to the R1 and L1.
The main attractions are the two large circles located both on the left and right of the controller. These are touch pads and they take up a lot of space. The left touch pad has an outline of a cross, signalling that it’s a directional pad, while the right pad is completely smooth. Both are clickable, adding two more buttons into its arsenal.
It sounds – and looks – cool. Will it meet our standards?
Umm, since how you like the controller is always going to be different than what we think, but nevertheless, Steam has done a good job with the controller. Using it will took a long time for me to get used to, though. The touch pads are especially a bit of unfamiliar territory, and I had definitely had to get used to this new way of playing. Meanwhile, it was noticeably larger compared to the present DualShock 4 and Xbox One controllers. The increased bulk will give you trouble accessing the middle buttons, but we’re sure that after a few hours of gaming, it will barely be a bother.
When you’re getting it though, prepare for the worst: at times, you will end up looking at the controller’s buttons for a split-second before pressing. For now, let’s reserve our judgment until we’ve actually accumulated more than a dozen hours of gaming while using it.
One of the things to look forward to is it being customizable. You can create your own control mapping schemes on each game or you can download user-generated ones created by the Steam Community.
Words of advice
We’re betting that your gaming device isn’t your “for work” iMac or MacBook, so it’s best to chill out for now and wait until Steam manages to resolve the software issues. After the controller becomes fully compatible with the computer though, don’t hesitate to try it out, especially if you’re raring to download some of those cool games in the Mac App Store.
Anyway, I’d love to play XCOM, Sim City, or any of the Total War games with a Steam Controller on a 27-inch Retina display Mac. Let’s see how this will turn out for both Apple and Steam in the next few months.