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[Discussion] Hori Introduces Wireless Horipad Controller for Steam, Exclusive to Japan

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The gaming industry was in for a surprise recently when the well-established gaming hardware company, Hori, announced a new officially licensed controller for Valve’s Steam platform. This announcement comes nearly five years after Valve ceased production of its experimental Steam Controller. However, there's a catch - Hori's new controller is currently exclusive to Japan.

Introducing the Wireless Horipad For Steam

The new gamepad, called the Wireless Horipad for Steam, has been designed with PC gaming in mind. It features the same menu buttons you would find on the Steam Deck and offers similar touch sensors on its sticks for activating gyro controls. This new offering supports both Bluetooth wireless and USB-C wired connections, and it’s loaded with custom programmability courtesy of Hori's proprietary software.

Despite its similarities with the Steam Deck, the Wireless Horipad for Steam isn't a sequel to the Steam Controller. For instance, it lacks rumble, a uniform four back buttons set, and the handheld's signature trackpads. The launch of this new controller is slated for October 31st in Japan and will be available in four colors - black, white, neon yellow, and violet. It's expected to retail at 7,890 yen or approximately $50.


A Comparison with the Existing Horipad Pro

The Wireless Horipad bears an uncanny resemblance to the wired Horipad Pro that you can currently buy for Xbox consoles. While I found the Horipad Pro fairly serviceable for our Xbox controller purchasing guide, it has excellent ergonomics and a superior D-pad but was somewhat outshone by other less expensive alternatives.

In contrast to its wired cousin, the Wireless Horipad is indeed wireless, albeit confined to Bluetooth connectivity, which can present certain limitations in comparison to a USB wireless dongle. This Steam version comes with four programmable buttons: two on the rear and the others right below the D-pad on the front and on the right thumbstick.

Anticipating a Broad Launch

It's certainly about time that Valve returned to the gamepad market with a branded controller for use with a docked Steam Deck and Steam. However, there’s still uncertainty as to whether the Wireless Horipad for Steam will be made available outside of Japan. Hori's decision to launch the product first in its home market makes sense, especially considering the recent surge of PC gaming popularity in Japan.

Interestingly, Valve's newly released statistics show a growing trend of gamepad usage within the Steam platform. Additionally, Valve just brought in a set of new controller optimizations. This could potentially hint at a future where we see a range of licensed Steam controllers from different manufacturers, much like the situation we see with Xbox consoles now. Until then, international game enthusiasts will be eagerly waiting for the chance to try out this new Wireless Horipad.

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