What just happened? Yesterday, Valve revealed the Steam Deck, its first handheld gaming device. Although it has the appearance of a dedicated console like the Nintendo Switch, the platform is a full-fledged PC on the inside, with all the benefits that come with it. The concept is so good that even Tim Sweeney (CEO of Epic, Valve’s key competitor) took to Twitter to praise the device, calling it an “amazing move.”
It may seem strange that Sweeney bothers to talk about a competitor’s new products. Surely you’re just lending Valve some free marketing, right? Why not keep your thoughts to yourself, or even lampoon the device for its flaws?
The answer is pretty simple – whatever you might feel about Sweeney or his business practices at Epic (disclaimer: I will never and probably never buy a game from the Epic Games Store), he cares about PC gaming as a platform and gives welcome innovation that pushes our favorite medium forward. As Sweeney points out in his tweet, which you can see below, Steam Deck is an “open platform” where users can install whatever software they want.
Incredible Valve move! A handheld PC / console hybrid that runs the SteamOS fork of Arch Linux, and is an open platform where users can freely install or choose software, including Windows and other stores. https://t.co/jf5TWUWGP5
– Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) July 15, 2021
By default, the platform runs the SteamOS fork of Arch Linux, allowing Steam and its games to run and play as smoothly as possible. However, you could easily boot the machine from Windows or whatever other operating system you prefer. You can even, Sweeney observes, install other game stores (like Epic, maybe?).
Yes, the storage capacity of the platform is limited, even the high-end model has a default limit of 512 GB (no third-party expansions). Yes, the screen is only 800p. However, according to Valve, it will still run the latest AAA games well and will run for at least a couple of hours straight when undocked.
As for the opinion of Valve CEO, Gabe Newell is confident that the Steam Deck will sell for “millions”, thanks to its “very aggressive” pricing and, hopefully, its balance between cost and performance. Newell isn’t unbiased here, but it’s not like the company has been churning out terrible hardware lately – the valve rating was pretty good, by all accounts, and even the unfortunate Steam Controller had a few fans.
Overall, the Steam Deck is an exciting device, and we’re eager to see what reviewers and ordinary end-users think when the first units start shipping in December. If you want to be among the first to get one, reservations are open now for $ 5 each.