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Game devs don't seem convinced on the Steam Deck from the GDC 2022 survey

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The annual game developer survey from GDC is out now for 2022 and it has some interesting insights as usual. That includes thoughts on the upcoming Steam Deck, with it clearly not selling everyone.

Having a little browse through it today and here's a few things to stuck out to me. For starters, of the ~2,700 developers surveyed about 7% said they are currently developing for Linux. Interestingly, 8% said their next project would be developed for Linux. When it comes to what platform developers are most interested in, Linux sat at 7%. As expected all three of those saw "PC" as the top platform, which by that they of course mean specifically Windows.

Stadia, Google's once promising cloud gaming solution doesn't seem to be really getting any love with it seeing 3-5% in those same questions. Streaming just doesn't seem all that popular with developers, with even Xbox Project xCloud (now just called Xbox Cloud Gaming) also seeing pretty low percentage interest from developers.

Browser-based gaming is here to stay though, as according to the survey it seems 9-11% of developers are currently doing it or planning to do it.

What about the Steam Deck though? The question posed was "Do you think Valve Software’s Steam Deck will be a viable game platform in the long term?" and only 36% said yes with 17% saying no and the rest unsure. Some of the developer comments were interesting on the Steam Deck ranging from excitement about "a product gamers have wanted for a long time" to saying they "don’t think it will deliver anything revolutionary that isn’t currently being delivered by the Switch".

The Steam Deck is interesting, as any developer / publisher we've seen actually receive a devkit unit has been practically universally praising the device. Seeing is truly believing then.

How about VR? Well, the majority (40%) are currently developing for Oculus devices. Interest seems reasonable for the Valve Index and HTC Vive, which support Linux, as 20% said they were currently developing for those. The VR market does not sound healthy from the responses though, with an increasing amount of developers who previously worked on VR now not working on any games.

A divisive one is NFTs and the (good) news there is that 70% of developers said they were not interested, with only 21% being "somewhat interested" and 7% being "very interested" and 1% already using them. Some of the responses there made me laugh ranging from it's "the wave of the future" to the blunt "How this hasn’t been identified as a pyramid scheme is beyond me".

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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73 comments
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CatKiller 21 Jan
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Quoting: toorThe verification process for steam deck compatibility doesn't take into account if it's optimized for the hardware of the Steam deck at all.
It does, but 720p at 30 fps at default settings isn't a particularly high bar to clear with this hardware.
mirv 21 Jan
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If you're developing a game, there are certain targets to meet, support to be wanted, and ROI to take into account. I'm beginning to think that in their rush to appeal to end users, Valve might have forgotten to put as much effort into appealing to developers.

Either that, or perhaps Valve's approach is not to appeal to developers, and just try have games run fine anyway. Not an entirely unresonable idea at all; the idea is basically to have existing games on a handheld rather than bringing anything new to the table from a developer perspective, and so the survey results aren't really surprising.
Quoting: mirvIf you're developing a game, there are certain targets to meet, support to be wanted, and ROI to take into account. I'm beginning to think that in their rush to appeal to end users, Valve might have forgotten to put as much effort into appealing to developers.

Either that, or perhaps Valve's approach is not to appeal to developers, and just try have games run fine anyway. Not an entirely unresonable idea at all; the idea is basically to have existing games on a handheld rather than bringing anything new to the table from a developer perspective, and so the survey results aren't really surprising.

With Steam Machines they did try a developer-first approach and they just could not get a lot of them to bite. Proton at least means they have less dev asskissing to do.
TheSHEEEP 21 Jan
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Quoting: kuhpunktI'd really like to see/know who those devs even are. 40% are developing for Oculus? No way this is representative.
GDC in general is not too representative of anything.
It is very much a circlejerk of the usual suspects that like to flock to these kinds of "events" - with the odd quite useful and interesting talk being held.
Not much different than any event of that kind in any industry, really.

I wouldn't put too much into "consensus" information gathered from that limited pool.


Last edited by TheSHEEEP on 21 January 2022 at 1:34 pm UTC
Arten 21 Jan
QuoteThe Steam Deck is interesting, as any developer / publisher we've seen actually receive a devkit unit has been practically universally praising the device. Seeing is truly believing then.
It's called selection bias. Only developers interested in steamdeck try to get one and so they are more likely prise it. Ones who are more likely criticize it don't want it, so they don't have one.
I expect great device, but but this survey shows that our view can be influenced by the fact that we hear only positive news.
Mohandevir 21 Jan
For the Steam Deck, it leaves a potential 47% of unsure developpers that may fall into the yes camp, if the Steam Deck sells well. But who can say? I'd probably be in that 47%, even if I want it to be a success. Not bad, imo.
nullzero 21 Jan
Quoting: Arten
QuoteThe Steam Deck is interesting, as any developer / publisher we've seen actually receive a devkit unit has been practically universally praising the device. Seeing is truly believing then.
It's called selection bias. Only developers interested in steamdeck try to get one and so they are more likely prise it. Ones who are more likely criticize it don't want it, so they don't have one.
I expect great device, but but this survey shows that our view can be influenced by the fact that we hear only positive news.

Thing here is those devs didn't buy any. The units simply poped up in their mailbox, courtesy of Valve Inc.

The bias here, is trying to figure out how many devs got it, and posted no evidence online!
Beamboom 21 Jan
QuoteWhen it comes to what platform developers are most interested in, Linux sat at 7%.

So not just interested in, but most interested in? As in, rating it above the other platforms? Really?
It's so I wonder if this either is misquoted or the question misunderstood...!

But if not, that's... pretty darn great!
gbudny 21 Jan
The main issue with Steam Deck is the fact that developers care about sales figures. Some companies invested a lot of money to port their games to Linux or Mac. It didn't make them rich. We had Steam machines and other devices with Linux support.

The rest of the developers are just observers that remember companies like Corel, Loki, TransGaming, and their involvement in Linux.

Valve could create a console that has native games for Linux and a few exclusive titles. They decided to do it differently.

Unfortunately, Valve believes that Proton solves most problems when a game isn't available for Linux. I know that some native games for Linux aren't perfect. However, most of the issues can be sorted out by developers or even users.

I can't say the same thing about Proton or other related projects. I can admit that those are ambitious projects with incredible people. However, the expectations of users and Valve are even higher to support every game with the Proton. It sounds like a dream, and only Microsoft has the potential to do it.

Valve or any other company on this planet can't use Wine to compete with Microsoft. Wine developers will always fall behind Windows developers, and you can't change it.

Finally, I think there is a chance that many people purchase Steam Deck. Maybe they will spend enough money to show developers that Linux is a better option than Mac.

In this case, users have to show that x86-64 is more profitable to invest in than M1. Steam Deck can't compete with Android or iOS.

I saw that some companies dropped support for Linux (or Mac), and they decided to support mobile operating systems like iOS or Android.


Last edited by gbudny on 21 January 2022 at 2:36 pm UTC
Xpander 21 Jan
Sadly i still don't think Steam Deck will be popular. I mean yeah its a neat package, but it doesn't offer anything to people who already play on consoles or mobile phones. It might only attract people who already are in the PC ecosystem and just want to dive into handheld gaming with their list of owned games or small portion of those, who want to tweak it and use it for game emulation etc.
If they somehow manage to deliver/sell 10 mil of those devices, then i can see some potential. but if its going with small batches over the next year, then i dont think it will last long. Hope im wrong though.

Also i don't really want to think about what will happen with the proton development if the Steam Deck will fail.
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