Barely a week since our last discussion of new handheld hardware, Valve surprised us with the reveal of its Steam Deck. Not to be confused with Elgato’s Stream Deck, Valve’s handheld is a powerhouse designed to give gamers AAA gaming experiences on the go.
While Valve has toyed with hardware in the past, they’re best known as the company behind the Steam PC gaming storefront and a handful of games, most notably the Half-Life series.
The Deck itself comes in three increasingly pricey setups, each boasting more storage than the last. These range from 64GB at £349 through to 512GB at a hefty £569, though they all have microSD card support to accommodate further storage expansion.
With launch set for this December, should the Steam Deck be on your Christmas list? We have our own thoughts, but let us know yours in the comments.
Considering these three titles are also available on Switch in some form, perhaps they were highlighted to showcase the difference in performance.
Steam Deck is a really impressive bit of kit. The base model doesn’t cost much more than the Nintendo Switch (OLED model), yet is far more powerful and compatible.
As an open PC system, users are free to ditch its Steam OS and install Windows - this allows access to the Epic Games Store (including its tasty suite of free games) and the Xbox app, accommodating Game Pass compatibility. Steam already has a bigger library than Nintendo Switch, but these three powers combined arguably trounce it.
Steam sales will make building a library far cheaper than paying the infamous “Switch tax” on games, though that’s assuming most people don’t already have one. Arguably, the Steam Deck will feature the biggest and best launch line-up ever. With the integrated track pads and full control remapping via Valve’s Steam Input software, it doesn’t even matter if they don’t feature controller support.
Lots of people are excited about emulation, too. There are (questionable, depending who’s asked) means to emulate console games on a PC. Everyone seems keen for the Nintendo Switch to get classic N64 and GameCube titles, but there’s a very real chance that Steam Deck will first.
Never mind the emulation possibilities, just look at those ergonomic grips, Sam!
There’s certainly a desirability about the Steam Deck, not least because of its relatively low price point, but also the ability to play top tier games on the go or away from a TV or monitor.
That being said, I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to buy one. I’ve seen the Steam Deck being compared to a mid-range gaming laptop or an Xbox One or PS4 in terms of performance, which doesn’t make it sound very future proof.
My mid-range 2017 gaming laptop could just about run AAA games when I bought it, but the scope and requirements of later titles soon outstripped its capabilities, and I can see the same thing happening with the Steam Deck.
Yes, there’s a deluge of current and older titles that it will always be able to play, but how long before newer games start becoming incompatible? The Switch, while massively underpowered, at least has a guaranteed stream of top tier first-party releases to prop it up.
If I didn’t have my eye on a Series X I’d probably still get one, because they do look like very cool pieces of kit. But would I still be playing it five years from now as I do the Switch? Hard to say.
It also has proper control sticks, which the Switch sorely lacks.
What do you think of the Steam Deck? Will you be picking one up? Let us know below.