For the Steam Box, no controller with thumb-sticks will do

Gabe Newell, the C.E.O. of Valve, plays by his own rules. You can see this with Steam, the on-line service that finally got right digital distribution for games. You can see it with the Steam Boxes, the set-top machines that bring Steam into the console arena. And you can see it with the Steam Box gamepad, which replaces thumb-sticks with trackpads. 

Also, this is evident in how Valve will allow any competitor to manufacture their own version of the Steam Box, but won’t allow them to make their own Steam Box controllers. “We’re going to manufacture it. We’re going to supply all the people who are making third party Steam Machines with controllers,” a representative from Valve told IGN. “We just think that, for now at least, we have to do that ourselves. So we’re going to be doing high volume production.”

This is a curious move that bucks popular convention. The norm in the console market is for companies to make their own game consoles (i.e. only Microsoft makes the Xbox One, only Nintendo makes the 3DS, etc.), but third-parties are free to sell peripherals. This reversal could be a cunning business move on the part of Valve to make royalties. But it’s more likely that Gabe simply wants us to play games the way he intended—not with thumbsticks, but with a controller that’s kind of like a mouse. It will be interesting to see which games easily make the jump to the television and which ones falter.