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.
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.