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Well today is the big day. Valve has now formally revealed the Steam Deck, a portable handheld gaming console powered by a new version of their Linux-based SteamOS operating system.

"We think Steam Deck gives people another way to play the games they love on a high-performance device at a great price," says Valve founder Gabe Newell. "As a gamer, this is a product I've always wanted. And as a game developer, it's the mobile device I've always wanted for our partners."

Since it's based on Linux, we now know a big reason why Valve has been investing in Linux gaming with the likes of Steam Play Proton. It will play your Linux native titles, with support boosted by Proton. Not only that, Valve said "we're vastly improving Proton's game compatibility and support for anti-cheat solutions by working directly with the vendors". This is pretty amazing, as anti-cheat was the big missing piece. In their FAQ, they make it clear that they are working directly with BattlEye and EAC to get support for Proton.

Anti-cheat support is coming too! That's huge!

The new SteamOS has been optimized for handheld and touchscreen gaming, while it will also have a desktop mode for those who want it. SteamOS 3.0 is also being based upon Arch Linux, with the desktop mode being powered by KDE Plasma.

We also know why Valve has been heavily investing in AMD GPU drivers for Linux too now then. It's a custom APU they partnered with AMD on for Zen 2 + RDNA 2.

Quick specs:

  • Powerful, custom APU developed with AMD
  • Optimized for hand-held gaming
  • Full-sized controls
  • 7" touchscreen
  • WiFi and Bluetooth ready
  • USB-C port for accessories
  • microSD slot for storage expansion
  • 3 different storage options available

The Steam Deck will also have a dock, much like you see with the Nintendo Switch with more ports to play with like USB, wired networking and enabling external displays. More tech info can be seen here.

It's an open system too, since it's basically a PC in your hands. Valve said "you can install third party software and operating systems".

Valve also did a session with IGN where they answered some questions. IGN also has hands-on video to give a better look at the device.

Steam Deck starts at $399, with increased storage options available for $529 and $649. The two higher models have bigger storage space, plus the two higher models actually use an NVMe drive for faster loading time and the top end has an anti-glare screen too.

Reservations open July 16th at 10 AM PDT; shipping is slated to start in December 2021. Currently it's limited to United States, Canada, European Union, and the United Kingdom with more regions becoming available in 2022.

For developers, Valve put up a video overview:

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See more on the Steam Deck website and the Steam Deck store page.

Is this the holy grail of Linux gaming? Could be.

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dubigrasu 15 Jul
Maybe is a bit silly, but I would love to see a "controller mode only" for this device. Basically using it for your other PC/devices, the same way as any other controller. Not talking here about streaming or anything, but just having it turned off (or some low power/standby mode) and attached to your (more powerfull) PC, instead of the SC for example.
Why, well, because its array of inputs makes it even more awesome and versatile than the Steam Controller itself. Sure, I would very much prefer a SC 2.0, if they ever make one again.
robvv 15 Jul
Quoting: Appelsin
QuoteCurrently it's limited to United States, Canada, European Union, and the United Kingdom with more regions becoming available in 2022.

Nothing for Norway then (or Switzerland, or Iceland or Luxemburg)? Or is this just a ploy to make us join the EU?

We in the UK left the EU and can order it, so they're sending mixed messages ;-)
rcgamer 15 Jul
Now this actually makes sense. I can see this selling pretty well.
rafagars 15 Jul
This looks amazing. Anyway I gonna wait for the first reviews to see how good is it
Creak 16 Jul
I am so happy to see this news! This is exactly what I imagined years ago back when they started Steam OS. I was wondering why they would invest in Linux so much? Steam For Linux, Steam Controller, Steam Link, Proton.. I said that a handheld gaming device makes the most sense. It is good to have a vision and see it being realized

Other than that, the price is a bit high, but I really like the concept and the look of it. I'll wait and see how it comes out though.. I was one of the poor dudes buying the Ouya on Kickstarter. It won't happen again!
Gazoche 16 Jul
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This is really, really big. Haven't been this excited about Linux gaming since the release of Proton.
Proton running on a handheld device like this has a lot of advantages that Proton doesn't have running on the average Linux desktop.

Every Linux desktop varies wildly and that makes trying to make Windows games run reliably on such wildly varying Linux environments is certainly a challenge. There are so many variables. What Linux kernel is the user running? What GPU? What driver? What driver version? What level of vulkan support is available? The exact fix for some machines may be a few command line options, other PCs might run the game out of the box without any help, other PCs might not be able to run the game at all.

But with the Steam Deck, here you have a rare opportunity: The only 'variable' is the game.

If Valve can get a game to run, via any means, on the Steam Deck, they can put out an update to Proton/SteamOS/etc, that ensures that game runs on every Steam Deck. Even if behind the scenes there are per game tweaks and other stuff happening, all that matters from the end users perspective is that they can hit play and the game runs. No fiddling involved.

This presents an enormous opportunity to increase the Linux player base on Steam, and puts a lot more pressure on game devs to ensure their games at least run well via Proton, if not natively on Linux.
Dunc 16 Jul
I still can't get used to Arch being a major distro. When I started using it, hardly anyone had even heard of it.
KohlyKohl 16 Jul
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Quoting: scaine
Quoting: Supay
Quoting: Solitary
Quoting: KohlyKohl
Quoting: Purple Library Guy
Quoting: KohlyKohlI'm also concerned about the switch to Arch. I would have preferred a more stable distribution such as Ubuntu.
It's not like you're going to be installing a stack of AUR stuff. Someone's carefully set up bare-bones Arch is probably very stable.

Arch is inherently less stable by design. Adding in the AUR just makes it more unstable. Arch has its place I just don't think a consumer device is one of them.

Just because it's based on Arch doesn't mean it needs to have Arch issues. The updates are still tested and controlled by Valve. It is SteamOS, not Arch.

Absolutely agree. I run Arch on my desktop and some various home servers. My desktop is the messiest with AUR stuff wedged and lots of random bits I tinker with, and even that hasn't had any issues in a long time. The issues I have had were ones I caused. My servers are kept lean and focused, and I have never had an issue with them. Even when I slack off and realise I haven't updated packages in months, it all just works as it's as minimal as possible.

On the contrary, I recently switched to Ubuntu to give it a go again, expecting it to be something that would just work and have a decent default experience. Sure, it installed easily and had a flashy GUI, and I didn't have to manually do everything as I do when installing Arch, however I have had more issues with Ubuntu in a few weeks than I had on Arch in the last two years. Stuff that just worked in Arch due to up to date packages and a huge central repo has involved forum scouring for fixes, random private repos added, and a host of other issues. Give me Arch anyday.

My experience: the exact opposite of yours. Nothing works easily on Arch, the AUR has heaps of outdated keys and I had to troubleshoot basic things like gamepads not working which work out of the box on Debian/Ubuntu distros.

You know what you know, I suppose, and there are significant differences between the big core distros that experience in one of them doesn't necessarily translate to a good experience in the others.

For a device like this though? Who cares if it's Arch? I'm not going to be looking up the arch wiki if something doesn't work on this thing. I'll be using Valve support, or sending the unit back.

It matters because Valve is pushing the idea that you can install any apps you like and in my experience this is much easier for new users on Ubuntu and not on Arch.
Jau 16 Jul
*jumping* woooohooohoooo ! Sorry. finally, an awesome news !
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