Yesterday morning Valve, responsible for everyone’s favorite digital game store-front, Steam, and for refusing to make Half-Life 3, announced a new handheld gaming device. The new machine is aptly named the Steam Deck and is essentially a mobile gaming device that can play just about any game from your Steam library. Just a week after the announcement of the new Switch OLED model, Valve has managed to steal some thunder and stir up interest in it’s newest handheld device! It is also competitively priced with the base model at just 50 dollars more than the OLED Switch. Speaking of base model, there are three different versions of the Steam Deck.
The base model has 64 GB of storage (all models have an SD card slot for storage expansion) and comes with a simple carrying case at $399. The mid-tier model comes with 256 GB of storage on a faster SSD and an “Exclusive Steam Community Profile Bundle” that will set you back $529. The third model features all the bells and whistles of the mid-tier option but with a 512 GB SSD that’s even faster! Along with a special anti-glare etched glass screen, specialized carrying case, and a unique theme for the virtual keyboard that, altogether, will cost you a hefty $649.
Don’t worry about inconsistencies in performance between the different models however. All models run the same in-game at a steady 30 fps and 720p resolution. Oddly enough the reported battery life for the Steam Deck is anywhere between 2 to 8 hours, depending on just how power intensive the game you are playing is. The coolest (in my opinion) part is that Valve is approaching the Steam Deck as an open system. You can install Windows on it and run Microsoft’s GamePass or even the Epic Games Store!
The question now is: “Who exactly is this device for”? Who is the target audience? For ages the PC “master race” players have boasted about how their gaming rigs can put out resolutions and FPS that far exceeds what is possible on home consoles. But this Steam Deck is limited to running traditional PC games at Medium-High settings (depending on the game) and at 720p resolution. Clearly if you want to play the latest Triple-A games at 4K resolution and at 120 fps or more, this isn’t for you. The fact that the base model has a measly 64 GB (before using the SD card slot) means you won’t be running much more if you have Call of Duty: Warzone on the system as that game currently takes up 52.4 GB.
This handheld is an appealing system for PC gamers who want to explore their gaming library but don’t want to be tethered to the desk. Those who already have a robust Steam library have a lot to gain with this system as it would be a portable PC. Those who don’t care about optimal high settings can simply kick back in bed and play some Civilization 5 (8 GB) or Half-Life 2 (3.5 GB).
Players who have always been apprehensive about the cost-prohibitive PC gaming scene will now have an entry point into playing with the added bonus of mobility. Don’t forget that the system is open and can allow Xbox GamePass and Steam has ports of PlayStation games like Death Stranding and Horizon: Zero Dawn. Being able to play games from the two major consoles, on mobile, is something few thought would ever be feasible.
I am very excited to get my hands on the Steam Deck; however I’m thinking of getting the mid-tier model for the extra storage and speed. Being able to play a backlog of PC indies (not forgetting the frequent sales and bundles available on the platform) has me looking forward to the Deck’s launch this December. I am looking forward to playing KOTOR and KOTOR2 on a mobile device that isn’t just a phone.
Interested in more videogame coverage? then keep it here on GeekNewsNow as we start our PAX coverage this weekend. The GNN Gaming Gurus will be streaming games from PAX this weekend over on our Twitch page. Staff writers will also be covering the panels as well. Stick around and check out our content!