Is The Steam Deck The Next Big Thing, Or A £349 Mistake?
Is a portable gaming PC just too good to be true? Well, not if you’re Valve.
The long rumoured Steam handheld console, the Steam Deck has finally landed, and while its announcement has likely drawn nervous glances over the shoulder from Nintendo, there are doubts whether the newest handheld on the scene can really put up a challenge to the Switch’s title as King of the portables.
First things first, let’s take a look at what could really make the Steam Deck fly off the shelves. There’s no doubt that having your entire Steam library at your fingertips is a tantalising prospect - we all lead busy lives, and don’t often have the time to sit at our PCs and play.
So being able to access our favourites on the move could be a game-changer, but things start to come apart a little when you look at the specs. The first problem is that the base version of the console comes in at a relatively small 64GB of space. That is twice the amount of the base Switch though, so not bad so far, but considering most of us have absolutely massive Steam libraries you’re going to struggle to get all your best games in one place when you want them.
This means the heftier price tag of £459 and £569 might have to be paid for 256GB and 512GB of space respectively – a healthy boost, but you’re paying for it. The battery life isn’t anything special either, apparently maxing at eight hours of playtime before you’ll need a recharge, but based on the Switch, it’s probably going to be less than that.
With the same processor and 16GB of RAM working throughout all three versions of the Deck, it should be able to cope with pretty much any title you throw at it, but potentially at the cost of battery life.
Another potential issue with the handheld is the weight. All that processing power has to go somewhere, and the Deck is pretty massive - coming in at just less than double the weight of the Nintendo Switch. Actually holding the thing for long periods of time might be a bit of a workout, especially with the positioning of thumbsticks making your hands sit high on the console.
All these factors and more will play a huge role in the success of the Steam Deck. History is littered with the handheld mistakes of developers who should’ve stuck with what they knew. Remember the Nvidia Shield? Yeah, exactly.
All that said, if anyone can prove the doubters wrong, it’s Valve. Set for launch just before Christmas 2021, gamers will have to pre-order their Steam Deck in July, with more sets to become available going into early 2022. Time will tell whether those Decks will fly off the shelves, or pave the road of handheld console mistakes, like those that have failed before it.