Valve had stepped into the market for gamepads with their Steam Controller. The controller was designed to revolutionize gamepads by attempting to closely emulate the feel and response of a mouse, ditching the thumbsticks for a clickable circle pad and coming equipped with thirteen buttons, eliminating the need for a keyboard as well. The gamepad was compatible with the Steam Link, which was able to play games on TVs instead of a computer.
The Steam Controller and the Steam Link were both canceled, with the gamepad’s production being ended in 2019. Valve subsequently drastically dropped the price of the controller, selling off the reserve stock. The sharp drop from $50 to $5 led to the controller selling out with Valve releasing refunds because of over-ordering.
Valve is coming back to the gamepad market. Valve filed a new patent for another gamepad, that is similar to their first Steam Controller design retaining the two large touchpads instead of thumbsticks. The new iteration appears to take inspiration from the Xbox Elite controller, the fifth fastest-selling accessory in United States history, with removable and customizable parts. The new Steam Controller has a removable thumbstick, which can be replaced with a more traditional directional pad. The gamepad has a similar backplate that has four removable paddles, just like the Xbox Elite controller.
The patent suggests that software in the gamepad would reconfigure inputs depending on which parts are coupled. The individual coupled parts could possibly carry individual button mapping. Even with a filed patent, Valve is yet to have any information released to the public such as price point, or an expected release date. It is completely possible that the design that was filed for the patent, will not be released with Valve continuing to tweak gamepad into something completely new requiring a new patent.