Confused on Steam Play and Proton? Be sure to check out our guide.

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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Quoting: MohandevirSteamPal with an optionnal eGPU docking station... Mmmmmm...

Yeah, I'm not sure how the Switch does this, I think the Dock basically just allows for more overall power to the system when Docked, so as not to eat the battery when undocked.

This brings up a question, has anyone been able to get eGPUs to work in Linux? Last time I tried with mine, it didn't work all that well.
Quoting: slaapliedjeThis brings up a question, has anyone been able to get eGPUs to work in Linux? Last time I tried with mine, it didn't work all that well.

Same here. Tried with a thunderbolt egpu and it was meh... Unstable, worked, reboot, doesn't work anymore, wash & repeat... Annoying!

Who knows, since it's a dedicated hardware, Valve might find some SteamPal specific means (custom port layout/controller/firmware) of achieving this without all the troubles that we, desktop users, have. Just a guess.


Last edited by Mohandevir on 8 June 2021 at 4:12 pm UTC
Beamboom 13 Jun
Quoting: elmapulAnyone trust valve to make an game console again after the steam machines flop?

Can not be compared.
The Steam Machine(s) were a train wreck of a launch partly due to it being announced way, waaaay too early (Valve may not have expected the instant response by the hardware manufacturers), but primarily because Valve did not make this game console. They just provided the (premature) OS. It was up to whoever out there to make whatever PC-in-a-console-hood they wanted to and put SteamOS on it. No directions, no restrictions, no plan whatsoever.

That was a horrible idea. Horrible!

So while I do share your pessimism it's for entirely different reasons.


Last edited by Beamboom on 13 June 2021 at 7:34 pm UTC
mirv 13 Jun
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Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: MalFunny thing. Everyone is 100% sure consoles are sold at loss, nobody challenge this accepted fact. Yet in EpicVSApple Epic couldn't provide any piece of evidence or even some clue that this is a fact, despite this being a fundamental piece of its theory and despite having both Sony and M$ support. This at least should suggest something on consoles real manufacturing costs.
I've always questioned this. Most people don't realize the cost of materials significantly drops when millions are ordered. With just about every console maker just making deals with AMD, it's hard not to think that they're making some serious amounts of bank, and that there's a good mark-up on things.

The BOM alone isn't enough consideration for the cost of an item. The salaries of people developing the machines, the testers, the IT staff who keep the networks running at the offices, etc etc etc, all factor into the cost of something. It might well be true that once development costs are taken into consideration, then consoles are indeed sold at a loss, at price, or with relatively low profit margin - but there's also so much overlap with software support teams, game development teams, etc, that it just doesn't make sense to even try to separate out the console hardware from the overall business.
elmapul 14 Jun
Quoting: Beamboom
Quoting: elmapulAnyone trust valve to make an game console again after the steam machines flop?

Can not be compared.
The Steam Machine(s) were a train wreck of a launch partly due to it being announced way, waaaay too early (Valve may not have expected the instant response by the hardware manufacturers), but primarily because Valve did not make this game console. They just provided the (premature) OS. It was up to whoever out there to make whatever PC-in-a-console-hood they wanted to and put SteamOS on it. No directions, no restrictions, no plan whatsoever.

That was a horrible idea. Horrible!

So while I do share your pessimism it's for entirely different reasons.

even worse, they cant control what happens with their own brand
elmapul 16 Jul
hey liam i remembered something...
google recently said that they made something to help developers port games to stadia...
so they dont have to rewrite the code to vulkan, it should work for any directx 9/10/11 game, aparently almost all apis were covered by their project...
maybe that explain why valve is so confident on runing all games at the relase of the device, stadia might not be the only device who will get the benefits from the efforts from google.

i'm not sure if google is working on something akin to what fna is to xna, where you recompile the code and it works... maybe with a few tweaks...
or something akin to proton
slaapliedje 16 Jul
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Quoting: elmapulhey liam i remembered something...
google recently said that they made something to help developers port games to stadia...
so they dont have to rewrite the code to vulkan, it should work for any directx 9/10/11 game, aparently almost all apis were covered by their project...
maybe that explain why valve is so confident on runing all games at the relase of the device, stadia might not be the only device who will get the benefits from the efforts from google.

i'm not sure if google is working on something akin to what fna is to xna, where you recompile the code and it works... maybe with a few tweaks...
or something akin to proton
I don't think google has released any of their stuff, have they? At least as far as allowing other people to be able to use it.

From the videos I saw last night, Proton has some builds within Valve that they haven't released yet that are experimental above experimental, but are very much making it so more and more games just work out of the box, and are hoping to get the anti-cheat stuff working in time for the release in December.
elmapul 16 Jul
Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: elmapulhey liam i remembered something...
google recently said that they made something to help developers port games to stadia...
so they dont have to rewrite the code to vulkan, it should work for any directx 9/10/11 game, aparently almost all apis were covered by their project...
maybe that explain why valve is so confident on runing all games at the relase of the device, stadia might not be the only device who will get the benefits from the efforts from google.

i'm not sure if google is working on something akin to what fna is to xna, where you recompile the code and it works... maybe with a few tweaks...
or something akin to proton
I don't think google has released any of their stuff, have they? At least as far as allowing other people to be able to use it.

From the videos I saw last night, Proton has some builds within Valve that they haven't released yet that are experimental above experimental, but are very much making it so more and more games just work out of the box, and are hoping to get the anti-cheat stuff working in time for the release in December.

afaik most of the tech behind stadia is opensource, its not like they have anything to lose considering most cloud services are runing on top of windows and if more people start using linux instead, that only means that more game engines will support linux and more game companies will support wich should make the deals cheaper for everyone involved.

speaking of that...
Atari has an linux console, google stadia is based on linux, now steampal
slaapliedje 16 Jul
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Quoting: elmapulhey liam i remembered something...
google recently said that they made something to help developers port games to stadia...
so they dont have to rewrite the code to vulkan, it should work for any directx 9/10/11 game, aparently almost all apis were covered by their project...
maybe that explain why valve is so confident on runing all games at the relase of the device, stadia might not be the only device who will get the benefits from the efforts from google.

i'm not sure if google is working on something akin to what fna is to xna, where you recompile the code and it works... maybe with a few tweaks...
or something akin to proton
I don't think google has released any of their stuff, have they? At least as far as allowing other people to be able to use it.

From the videos I saw last night, Proton has some builds within Valve that they haven't released yet that are experimental above experimental, but are very much making it so more and more games just work out of the box, and are hoping to get the anti-cheat stuff working in time for the release in December.
Quoting: elmapul
Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: elmapulhey liam i remembered something...
google recently said that they made something to help developers port games to stadia...
so they dont have to rewrite the code to vulkan, it should work for any directx 9/10/11 game, aparently almost all apis were covered by their project...
maybe that explain why valve is so confident on runing all games at the relase of the device, stadia might not be the only device who will get the benefits from the efforts from google.

i'm not sure if google is working on something akin to what fna is to xna, where you recompile the code and it works... maybe with a few tweaks...
or something akin to proton
I don't think google has released any of their stuff, have they? At least as far as allowing other people to be able to use it.

From the videos I saw last night, Proton has some builds within Valve that they haven't released yet that are experimental above experimental, but are very much making it so more and more games just work out of the box, and are hoping to get the anti-cheat stuff working in time for the release in December.

afaik most of the tech behind stadia is opensource, its not like they have anything to lose considering most cloud services are runing on top of windows and if more people start using linux instead, that only means that more game engines will support linux and more game companies will support wich should make the deals cheaper for everyone involved.

speaking of that...
Atari has an linux console, google stadia is based on linux, now steampal
Steam Deck. Ha, so glad they didn't go with steampal, terrible name...
But yeah, finally more Linux based consoles instead of BSD or others.
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