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Valve hit a home run with the first year of Steam Deck

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What an absolutely exceptional first year Valve had with the Steam Deck, and it continues to be my main way to play games now. From playing lots of indie games, to plenty of AA / AAA that work surprisingly well on it even right at release, the Steam Deck has opened up PC gaming to many new ways to play.

How far it has come since the original release huh? Valve's original release date in December last year was clearly overly optimistic, and in a lot of ways the February release this year was too. Supplies were constantly an issue and people were waiting months for a possible purchase email to come from Valve for their reservation, whereas now you can get it in 1-2 weeks with no reservation needed. There's even the official Steam Deck Docking Station to use it on your big TV (and many other cheaper docks too). We also found out it shipped over a million back in October.

Currently, at time of writing, Deck Verified is doing pretty great on the numbers too. Looking at the stats on SteamDB, which also includes unlisted games (but you still have access to them) there's now:

  • Verified - 2651
  • Playable - 4286
  • Unsupported - 2431

Let's not forget though, the vast majority of games on Steam Deck weren't even designed for it. Most still don't have even a single change done to make it work on it, or work any better. Valve clearly had a plan when they released Proton, the Windows translation layer based on Wine, back in 2018. Without Proton, the Steam Deck would have been pretty much dead on arrival like the original Steam Machines were. You don't pull people in without the games they want to play, and for the most part, Proton has solved that problem. Whoever at Valve actually made the decision to push forward with Proton is clearly a genius.

Thanks to the Steam Deck using Linux, it has successfully continued to push up the Linux user statistics on Steam too overall. It's hit multiple all-time new-highs of Linux users, and while the majority pushing those numbers up are from SteamOS Linux on the Steam Deck, the numbers of desktop Linux users on it are going up too.

It's hard to think of a gaming hardware release that's felt this fresh and exciting, and I've been through quite a lot of launches myself over the years including being an early adopter of the PS3, PS4, Switch, XBX and many other earlier systems. The Steam Deck is just different.

The inclusion of the KDE Plasma desktop mode was a fantastic touch too of course, ensuring that out of the box the Steam Deck could function as a full PC. This also enables tons of extras to be installed and allows you to work around all sorts of things you can't do in the Steam Deck Gaming Mode UI, like my second article at the original release that went along with my main review talking about the likes of Discord and the Epic Games Store (although I would recommend the Heroic Games Launcher for Epic / GOG now). It has limits due to the locked down file-system (that you can unlock at your own peril) but for the most part, it works great. So great in fact, that the likes of Kotaku forgot the original Steam Machines ever had a desktop mode (it used GNOME instead of KDE).

With a vibrant community building up around it, there's clearly no stopping it at this point. People are creating all sorts of things for it, like the excellent Deckmate attachment system. There's also multiple software plugin systems like Decky Loader, and remember all the hype over boot videos? Not many vendors allow such wild customisation and even end up making it easier for you. Love emulation? There's now dedicated launchers for that too like EmuDeck that brings them all under one roof.

While there's a lot of positives, it's not perfection and I do have a wishlist of items I hope Valve look into that I put up in October. I also won't sugarcoat that there's numerous other issues. There's constant problems with game launchers like the EA App breaking completely, then Valve fixed it loading and then it needed another fix because updates were breaking it. Some popular games stop working completely with new updates too. Anti-cheat is another ongoing issue, although largely out of Valve's hands as developers need to support it directly (Hi Bungie). Deck Verified is also a weird one too, with games sneaking into Verified that actually don't work well, which brings up constant questions on how they're testing them, and Unsupported games that actually are flawless. Valve ended up putting in a feedback system to hopefully point them towards titles with problems.

Overall though: I can't wait to see what Valve are cooking up in 2023 for Steam Deck. I plan to keep putting a ton of hours into it, including streaming games from my PC it can't handle (now Remote Play is finally fixed for Linux hosts) while comfortably curled up on my sofa to get away from the chains of my desk.

The Steam Deck is the most accessible and affordable all-rounder handheld gaming PC, and I sure do hope there's a lot more to come from it. Now I just need a Steam Controller 2 (please Valve), and eventually a Steam Deck 2 that's a little lighter and has a better battery along with the next-generation AMD APU and it'll be another guaranteed home run. I'm not asking for much right? We still have Asia to go for the Steam Deck yet, so plenty more to come.

Be sure to follow GamingOnLinux on YouTube where I do lots of Steam Deck content.

What do you think of the first year of the Steam Deck?

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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly. Find me on Mastodon.
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zaggynl Dec 15, 2022
QuoteWhat do you think of the first year of the Steam Deck?

It's been an incredible ride! Both for gaming and use with dock as a media streaming device via Jellyfin flatpak app.

One of the things missing is Full Disk Encryption, I'm not completely comfortable with using the Deck as a general PC during travel yet, anyone could remove the SSD and copy files from disk.
I see someone made an issue for it here:
hardpenguin Dec 15, 2022
Happy Year of Steam Deck!
Mohandevir Dec 15, 2022
Best overall gaming experience I ever had. Being able to bring my Steam library on the go is something I wanted without knowing it. I really like the ergonomics and the layout of the device. The weight is no problem to me with this kind of grips. I can use it for multiple hours and I feel no cramps in my hands, like I do with the Switch. It could get a better screen, but it's more like a nice to have, imo. I got a docking station, but so far, I use it as a handheld only.

Since I got my Steam Deck (mid July), I didn't play on my computer, not even once. It's now a working machine, only. The only time I will probably play on my PC is when I will have an urge for my racing games (got a steering wheel).

Thank you Valve! You really nailed it this time!

Last edited by Mohandevir on 15 December 2022 at 2:01 pm UTC
Eike Dec 15, 2022
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Quoting: hardpenguinHappy Year of Steam Deck!

... and Happy New Year of Steam Deck, now! :)
xuwang Dec 15, 2022
After my time in the states and learning a bit about baseball, I would say it's a grand slam :)
Turkeysteaks Dec 15, 2022
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Very happy with my deck, and so, so excited for a Steam Controller 2. I've been using the deck to get through my backlog of games - while it can handle the heavier games, I have so many short indies that I'm loving playing through at the moment. Florence, Inmost, Disc room and Katana Zero have been my highlights on it so far.
Purple Library Guy Dec 15, 2022
Quoting: xuwangAfter my time in the states and learning a bit about baseball, I would say it's a grand slam :)
Ah yes, clearly you've been bridging the gaps in your baseball knowledge!
s01itude Dec 15, 2022
They've actually seemed to have fixed several issues with streaming from linux desktop. Just a few months ago I couldn't get it to work streaming from my desktop to steam deck. It would either just fail to connect and error out, or wouldn't stream video, and sometimes other quirks with audio and input.

It's still not a 100% perfect experience, but it's getting super close!
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