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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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230 comments
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CatKiller 21 Jul
Quoting: AppelsinChecking out the Steam Deck page from Norway gives the following, happy message:

QuoteThis item is not available for reservation in your country

Valve is somewhat repeating the commercial and marketing success of the Steam Link and Controller. "Let's not sell this to people with lots of money, eager to spend!" Seriously...
My understanding is that it's all because they fundamentally aren't a hardware retailer. Those would have distribution centres in most countries they do business in, and agreements with brick-and-mortar shops to cover things like returns and revenue sharing. And a bunch of people employed specifically to handle logistics.

Valve doesn't have any of that. They're a shop that sells software. They've got a couple of empty rooms in the countries that they have developers in where they can store boxes, and they get the postman to take them from there and deliver them to customers.

It's why they tried to get other people to make Steam Machines, why they're content to sell limited numbers of the premium Index, and why they're so relaxed about other companies making Steam Decks. If they want to sell as many units of the Steam Deck as they can they'll need to get all the trappings of a hardware retailer; otherwise they'll be limited to just selling a few units in a handful of countries.
Quoting: CatKillerIt's why they tried to get other people to make Steam Machines, why they're content to sell limited numbers of the premium Index, and why they're so relaxed about other companies making Steam Decks. If they want to sell as many units of the Steam Deck as they can they'll need to get all the trappings of a hardware retailer; otherwise they'll be limited to just selling a few units in a handful of countries.
Couldn't they just sell 'em on Amazon and let Amazon's warehouses handle the logistics?
Mohandevir 21 Jul
Quoting: Purple Library Guy
Quoting: CatKillerIt's why they tried to get other people to make Steam Machines, why they're content to sell limited numbers of the premium Index, and why they're so relaxed about other companies making Steam Decks. If they want to sell as many units of the Steam Deck as they can they'll need to get all the trappings of a hardware retailer; otherwise they'll be limited to just selling a few units in a handful of countries.
Couldn't they just sell 'em on Amazon and let Amazon's warehouses handle the logistics?

Looking forward to see how they will handle the manufacturing process... Because selling millions of units is exactly what Gabe Newell is wishing for. At least, he said so.


Last edited by Mohandevir on 21 July 2021 at 8:44 pm UTC
vector 22 Jul
The first generation Steam Deck looks to be a great device, and I think it will sell reasonably well, but if the publishers of Baldur's Gate 3, Control Ultimate Edition, Disco Elysium - The Final Cut, Doom Eternal, Hades, Ni no Kuni Wrath of the White Witch Remastered, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (amongst others) don't officially support Proton (not to be confused with Valve or the community supporting those games in the publishers' stead) or otherwise offer and support native Linux ports once the Steam Deck has been released, I won't feel like the needle has truly moved that much.
Shmerl 22 Jul
Baldur's Gate 3 is using Vulkan already, so they can make a native version with less hassle than others.
Jozua 22 Jul
Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: JozuaOoh, if there is a way to load the Steam Buddy tool onto this and easily import GOG games... that would be absolutely amazing.
This is actually everything I wanted as a gaming system. Dockable too!
It is just Linux on there, so I don't see why you couldn't load up anything that works on Linux. I think it might be time for Lutris to get a BPM mode as well.

Yessssss Lutris making a BPM mode would be so awesome!
Also by the looks of it the main interface in SteamOS3 looks pretty slick... I hope they update the Steam client with that BPM eventually too
slaapliedje 23 Jul
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Quoting: Jozua
Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: JozuaOoh, if there is a way to load the Steam Buddy tool onto this and easily import GOG games... that would be absolutely amazing.
This is actually everything I wanted as a gaming system. Dockable too!
It is just Linux on there, so I don't see why you couldn't load up anything that works on Linux. I think it might be time for Lutris to get a BPM mode as well.

Yessssss Lutris making a BPM mode would be so awesome!
Also by the looks of it the main interface in SteamOS3 looks pretty slick... I hope they update the Steam client with that BPM eventually too
There is a post on the steam community forums saying that they are indeed bringing it to normal Steam.
I hope they add 32:10 support...
Appelsin 23 Jul
Quoting: CatKiller
Quoting: AppelsinChecking out the Steam Deck page from Norway gives the following, happy message:

QuoteThis item is not available for reservation in your country

Valve is somewhat repeating the commercial and marketing success of the Steam Link and Controller. "Let's not sell this to people with lots of money, eager to spend!" Seriously...
My understanding is that it's all because they fundamentally aren't a hardware retailer. Those would have distribution centres in most countries they do business in, and agreements with brick-and-mortar shops to cover things like returns and revenue sharing. And a bunch of people employed specifically to handle logistics.

Valve doesn't have any of that. They're a shop that sells software. They've got a couple of empty rooms in the countries that they have developers in where they can store boxes, and they get the postman to take them from there and deliver them to customers.

It's why they tried to get other people to make Steam Machines, why they're content to sell limited numbers of the premium Index, and why they're so relaxed about other companies making Steam Decks. If they want to sell as many units of the Steam Deck as they can they'll need to get all the trappings of a hardware retailer; otherwise they'll be limited to just selling a few units in a handful of countries.

Yeah, but the thing is, they're selling it (or rather, it'll be available for order) all over Europe, except three countries, since we're not "part of the EU". Though they've inlcuded the UK, which afaik has even more hurdles atm with regards to import/export than EEA (we're EU, but we're kinda not).

They may be relaxed about it, but that seems to me to lead down the same Road to Success that they've done with their previous HW ventures. Especially the initial phase is critical, I should think. That's when it's hot, and people would buy it just because it's something new (and they can't get a hold of the PS5).

They were relaxed about Steam Machines. And it crashed (but there was a lot of causes for that crash).
They were relaxed about Steam Link. And it flopped. 3 people were allowed to buy it.
They were relaxed about Steam Controller. And it's a niche product most people only vaguely remember having seen a post on some gaming site about.

Bottom line is that I'm "worried" that this will go the way of the Link and Index. People get all exited about it, but then Valve doesn't want to sell it to anyone, and it dies one the vine. Here's *the* chance for Linux gaming going big, and Valve needs to move units to make that happen.
And if publishers can release games on the Switch natively, they can release them on *Native Steam Deck Linux* too (unless Valves somehow, inadvertently, makes it seem a better idea to just install Windows on it). But that relies on a lot of units being sold. 150 000 units accross the US and EU isn't enought to entice anyone.

/somewhatranty
Quoting: Appelsin150 000 units accross the US and EU isn't enought to entice anyone.
They had 110,000 pre-orders in the first 90 minutes. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict more than 150,000 total sales. Call me a starry-eyed optimist.
Appelsin 23 Jul
Quoting: Purple Library Guy
Quoting: Appelsin150 000 units accross the US and EU isn't enought to entice anyone.
They had 110,000 pre-orders in the first 90 minutes. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict more than 150,000 total sales. Call me a starry-eyed optimist.

My intent was more along the lines of "150 000 units that Valve are willing to sell", while they could have moved ten times that :) I'd have preordred one, if I was allowed.
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