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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".

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EagleDelta 21 Jan
Quoting: rustybroomhandleOn GoG you can get games with no DRM.

On Steam you can get games with DRM.

On NFT platforms you get just the DRM.

On Steam you get games, some with DRM, some without DRM.
Mohandevir 21 Jan
Quoting: EagleDelta
Quoting: rustybroomhandleOn GoG you can get games with no DRM.

On Steam you can get games with DRM.

On NFT platforms you get just the DRM.

On Steam you get games, some with DRM, some without DRM.

And it's the developer's decision, not Valve's.

Last edited by Mohandevir on 21 January 2022 at 3:33 pm UTC
Nanobang 21 Jan
My knowledge of game development is pathetic, so it's always been easy for me to imagine that Proton meant more money for game devs and more games for Linux gamers because devs making Windows games could "simply" make them with an eye towards Proton compatibility and add the Linux market to their profits. Maybe this is already the case. I don't know.

I see it, then, as following that Valve would also benefit by working with devs to make their games to be "platinum" level Proton compatible, much the way Microsoft --- and Gabe Newell himself --- did to get devs to leave MSDOS for DirectX back in the mid-nineties:

Quoting: WikipediaTo get more developers on board DirectX, Microsoft approached id Software's John Carmack and offered to port Doom and Doom 2 from MS-DOS to DirectX, free of charge, with id retaining all publishing rights to the game. Carmack agreed, and Microsoft's Gabe Newell led the porting project. The first game was released as Doom 95 in August 1996, the first published DirectX game. Microsoft promoted the game heavily with Bill Gates appearing in ads for the title.
"Direct X," note 5

The upcoming release of the Steam Deck" has me wondering once again why Valve aren't doing something like this for Proton? (Or maybe they have and I'm just unaware of it?) Surely, Valve would do if it would work, wouldn't they? Is there a Proton API or SDK or thingamabob already?

Last edited by Nanobang on 21 January 2022 at 3:44 pm UTC
Quoting: JpxsonYou wouldn't steal a car, you wouldn't right click on a NFT jpeg an save as
Heh. If I could right-click on a Tesla and duplicate it, I would be driving a Tesla right now.
dorron 21 Jan
To me, the appeal of the steam deck is having a portable "console" whose game catalog doesn't have to be built from scratch every time a new device is released. When you buy the steam deck you already have all your games, when Steam deck 2 is released you'll have an even bigger catalog, etc. I'm sold on it! Shut up and take my money!
mindedie 21 Jan
Quoting: kuhpunktI'd really like to see/know who those devs even are. 40% are developing for Oculus? No way this is representative.

Worked in maintenance and construction company as maintenance worker. Time to time we get surveys/questionnaires and all (most) of it about desk/office work... 15-20 personnel teams work outside to 1-2 in office. Not surprised if most of ~2700 surveyed "dev" just work in/with dev/publishing companies.

With no raw data to look in... BS?
Quoting: gbudnyValve 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.
That strikes me as the core of your point, that a lot of the rest depends on. And you know, this has been a common viewpoint for a long time. And it happened to be true for a long time.
But as far as I can tell, that's just because there weren't very many Wine developers and maybe the project was not approached in a way that made for speed of development. Well, and Vulkan didn't exist. Clearly it's not a necessary truth--say for instance there were ten times as many Wine developers as Windows developers, obviously they'd be able to keep up. But even without going absurd, there are constraints on how fast Windows developers can change Windows. The target can't actually move that fast, or software developers will abandon it, backwards compatibility will be lost and so on. Plus, the codebase is huge and at this point a lot of it is pretty old. Making changes without breaking everything has to be pretty hard. So I think there is a certain critical mass of Wine development, which has actually been reached (for games at least), at which Wine advances faster than Windows changes.
In fact, I think it's clear that for the last couple of years, Wine (plus DXVK et al) have been chasing those taillights a LOT faster than they've been receding. They started well back, and are much closer than they were. That progress is probably gonna slow a bit, because they're moving from big wins to corner cases. On the other hand, I'm really not seeing signs of Windows shifting much as a target lately--no signs of a DX13 coming down the pipe, for instance.

So really, I think your pessimism is unwarranted. It's just a product of a long period where the lack of a strong enough development team to do the job made it feel like the job was impossible.

All this optimistic talk is just about games, mind you. As far as I know there is no similar push happening with productivity software, and the two have different issues; Adobe Acrobat probably doesn't care about DX12.
Mohandevir 21 Jan
Quoting: Purple Library GuyI'm really not seeing signs of Windows shifting much as a target lately--no signs of a DX13 coming down the pipe, for instance.

Just a tought of mine, but even if there was a "DX13" announcement, before it gained traction in games, the DXVK/VKD3D/Proton team would have a lot of time to catchup. Remember when DXVK was first created? They had to chase DX9 to DX12 compatibility... If it's just a potential DX13, the manpower would be a lot more focused, because not spread accross many different APIs... My two cents.

Last edited by Mohandevir on 21 January 2022 at 5:57 pm UTC
flesk 21 Jan
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Quoting: scaine
Quoting: JpxsonYou wouldn't steal a car, you wouldn't right click on a NFT jpeg an save as

Showing your age (and possibly your Britishness) there!

Genuinely not sure if "you wouldn't steal a car" was shown outside of British cinemas?

Edit - so, uh, it wasn't shown on cinemas, it was DVDs mainly that featured this tripe. Early 2000's though, so at least I had that right.

I remember this from DVDs in Norway too. Futurama also made a fun spoof of the campaign:
Quoting: mirvI'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.
Because they don't really have to, I don't think. This isn't some new console where they need developers to make games or no one will buy it; when the Steam Deck finally gets in people's hands it's going to have more games working on it Day 1 than any console launch in history (probably by an order of magnitude or two). Thousands of games will "just work" (either by being native or working fine in Proton). It'd be nice to get more developers on board to expand the selection that works, but Valve probably doesn't feel the need to prioritize it as much. (Whether that's the right attitude or not remains to be seen, as we'll have to see how much lack of <Popular Game X> is actually a factor in people buying the Deck or not.)
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