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Well well, perhaps we finally know what the end game is here for the Steam Play Proton compatibility layer and a lot of the other work Valve has been doing for Linux with a possible handheld Steam console. Take this with a heavy pinch of salt as we're into super speculation territory now. UPDATES WILL BE POSTED AT THE BOTTOM.

Pavel Djundik, creator of SteamDB who has often dug up interesting new strings showing up in Steam updates has a new Twitter thread up going over some new appearances that raise some eyebrows.

New appearances are seen mentioning a "Neptune" controller along with things like "GameList_View_NeptuneGames", "SteamPal Games" and more curious entries that mention things like quick access and a power menu - all of which point to something quite a bit more than just a new controller. Not only that, there's also earlier mentions of a "Callisto Developer Program" and "Device Optimized Games" going by what Djundik found.

Recently, Valve's Gabe Newell spoke at Sancta Maria College in Auckland, New Zealand that was highlighted in a since deleted Reddit posts (but you can find the video on the likes of YouTube) where Newell was asked about Steam on consoles to which Newell replied "You’ll get a better idea of that by the end of this year". Initially, we thought that might mean the likes of Half-Life: Alyx on PlayStation VR 2 but now we're not so sure going by this new set of leaks.

It would make sense for such a device to be powered by Linux, so Valve has no licensing fees to deal with and can heavily customize it to their needs. It could easily leverage all the work Valve has put into Linux graphics drivers, Steam Play, perhaps Gamescope and much more that Valve has done for Linux. Perhaps their work on sorting out "new ways for prospective users to get into Linux gaming" and the "live USB media" that we mentioned here were all efforts towards this in some way? Would be a given for it to use an AMD GPU of some kind, considering Valve's investments into the open source Mesa drivers too.

Imagine if "Device Optimized Games" were those specifically ported to Linux to work with this device, that would also work well across desktop Linux with the Steam Linux Runtime dealing with any possibly library incompatibilities. Oh the possibilities. Throw in the idea I recently brought up of a Steam Game Pass…quite exciting.

Then again, it could end up just being a Steam Controller 2 and these optimized games are just setup for it ready. I would be happy with that anyway, not quite as happy as a full Linux-powered handheld Steam console but I do love the Steam Controller. Possibly even something standalone for future VR kits and of course possibly nothing as some leaks turn out. However, with the hints mentioning an "AirplaneMode", that would only be useful for a full handheld.

Bundle a new Valve game with it like they did with the Valve Index and Half-Life: Alyx and you could get plenty of sales.

What are you thoughts on all this?

UPDATE: the website Ars Technica has reportedly spoken to "sources familiar with the matter" who have confirmed it's real and will be Linux-powered. It may even launch by the end of this year. We've reached out to Valve Press to see if they have anything to say about it for us.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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Processing Vulkan Shaders

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TheSHEEEP 25 May
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Well, it does seem to be a more promising idea than the Steam Machine.
And game support is certainly WAY better now via Proton than it used to be many years ago.

On the other hand, I don't really know if there is a market for such a handheld.
I wish them good luck, anyway.
Liam Dawe 25 May
Quoting: TheSHEEEPOn the other hand, I don't really know if there is a market for such a handheld.
Well, thinking on it, look at how popular other handhelds like GPD Win has been and the excitement around things like the Alienware Concept UFO prototype and others. There's probably a good market for it, probably more so than VR I would say honestly.
dvd 25 May
I for one would be interested in such a thing if it was reasonably priced and had a nice battery life. On the other hand if it's 'play Cyberpunk 2077' on a handheld it's probably not for me, but i'd like to play Dead Cells and the like on the go.

It would be also cool if they kept it open like SteamOS (with a debian based system perhaps) so you could install Retroarch etc. on it or use it as a pdf reader.


Last edited by dvd on 25 May 2021 at 10:29 am UTC
Eike 25 May
In the last Smach Z article, someone said that somebody big should stand up and develop such a thing and that it could be a promising endeavor... :)
micha 25 May
Let's say it like that: A successful (hand-held) console targeting the Steam Linux Runtime would be the game changer for Gaming on Linux.
elmapul 25 May
dead on arrival.
0)any one trust valve to make an game console again after the steam machines flop? anyone would trust then with your money?
1)the market for this type of thing is already flooded, gpd win etc.
2)if its not arm, then good luck with the batery, if its arm, then good luck with the gaming library.
4)people will just install windows on it anyway to get more games, so why bother.
4.1)that is, if it didnt come with windows already.
5)i dont know how to count
-1)it will tough to compete against the likes of switch for traditional gamers and android/iOS for people who dont know any better.


Last edited by elmapul on 25 May 2021 at 11:35 am UTC
elmapul 25 May
on a side note, i liked the name, i hope it can play the neptunia games, then i will be able to play with blacn & co in an properly named device. (the main character is neptune, but who care about main characters? blanc is the best girl/best waifu anyway)


Last edited by elmapul on 25 May 2021 at 11:34 am UTC
Liam Dawe 25 May
Answering with some thoughts of my own :)

Quoting: elmapul0)any one trust valve to make an game console again after the steam machines flop? anyone would trust then with your money?
Well, Steam Machines failed for so many reasons. If this is a device built by Valve, and there's only one (or 1-2 configs?). I can see it doing a lot better with the state of Linux now.

Quoting: elmapul1)the market for this type of thing is already flooded, gpd win etc.
Flooded? Mmmm, I wouldn't say so. There's a few devices, but not many of them are really that high quality, with a big vendor backing them.

Quoting: elmapul4)people will just install windows on it anyway to get more games, so why bother.
That does bring up a good point but if Valve only supported some form of Linux on it, more might keep it that way. Either way, it would be a boost to Linux gaming if the main way to use it is with let's say SteamOS 3.0.

Quoting: elmapul-1)it will tough to compete against the likes of switch for traditional gamers and android/iOS for people who dont know any better.
As I mentioned in a prev comment, given the success of other devices, I wouldn't just count the idea out. As long as this time around, Valve market it correctly and properly.
robvv 25 May
Quoting: EikeIn the last Smach Z article, someone said that somebody big should stand up and develop such a thing and that it could be a promising endeavor... :)

Just as long as this doesn't become the Smach Zzz...

EDIT: Too many CTRL-Vs.


Last edited by robvv on 25 May 2021 at 11:46 am UTC
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