The handheld gaming market has long been dominated by Nintendo while mobile gaming has grown by leaps and bounds within the last decade. Sony has tried its hand in the market with the PlayStation Portable (PSP) and the PlayStation Vita, but both systems have not been able to keep pace with Nintendo and mobile gaming. This is not to say that the two PlayStation handhelds aren’t quality systems in their own right. But they can’t compare with the other two platforms when it comes to the bottom line. Now Valve has entered into the handheld market with its newly announced Steam Deck, finally bringing a true handheld gaming device to PC gamers.
The response has been tremendous so far. In fact, the demand has been so high that even though the release date for the Steam Deck is in December, if you were to preorder the system right now, the earliest you would receive it is in the second quarter of 2022. Using AMD graphics, the Steam Deck is a handheld mini-computer that was created to be able to play games from your Steam library at 720p in the palms of your hands. The system runs from $399 to $649 depending on the type and amount of storage you’re looking for. Similar to the Nintendo Switch, there is also a docking station that will function as a charging station and allow you to connect the device to an external source such as a television. The price for the docking station has yet to be announced at the time of this post and is being sold separately from the Steam Deck itself.
With Steam being the primary platform for PC gamers, this is huge news. The idea of having a dedicated device that is built to handle the majority of Steam titles with the added portability is a tremendous step forward for PC gaming. It has also been reported that the system will be running a Steam-based fork of the Linux operating system. This means that the user will be able to access other gaming clients (Epic Games Store) as well as download and utilize applications other than just Steam. What if this also allows the user to access Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now? There’s still more information to come, but the possibilities sound very exciting and the options already surpass what the Nintendo Switch offers.
The Steam Deck caught my attention as the bulk of my gaming library is on Steam. What I like about the gaming client is that it offers PC versions of almost all the major titles. Its selection of indie games is second to none. There are more deals on Steam throughout the year than the gaming consoles offer. Also, the Steam Workshop allows for easy handling and downloading of mods within games. The only drawback to Steam is that it is an exclusively digital platform that requires the Steam application for the games to work. But that doesn’t stop it from being my favorite gaming client.
As exciting as this news is, I still will implement my usual “waiting at least a year to purchase a new system” stance. It’s always served me very well. By allowing a full year to pass, it allows for many of the initial kinks to be worked out. The game library will also feature a lot more choices. Of course, with the Steam Deck, it will just integrate the library you already have on Steam. I’m curious to see how the Steam Deck runs all of the major games before deciding to invest in it. GamesRadar recently reported the possibility of the Steam Deck being unable to run some of the more popular online games. Time will tell what is true and what isn’t about the new system.
If things are looking good through 2022, I’ll have no problem purchasing the system by the end of that year. It seems the Nintendo Switch finally has some competition in the handheld market. Competition is always a good thing for gaming. In the meantime, I will continue to follow the progress of the Steam Deck and I’m hoping the best for Valve. For more information, check out https://www.steamdeck.com.