Steam Deck is Valve’s first foray into handheld gaming. Launched earlier this year in February, Steam Deck is a handheld gaming console, or as Valve calls it ‘handheld gaming PC,’ much similar to the Nintendo Switch. Though they have many differences, there is one that towers above all.
The Steam Deck runs PC games rather than console ones, and its source is your Steam library. The fact that the same library that you access on your gaming PC can now be played on the go is a much-coveted feature of the Steam Deck.
Though Valve has, as of yet, not released the sales numbers for Steam Deck, we can deduce that demand is high and increasing since there has been a rise in Deck alternatives. The increased demand and pre-orders have spurred Valve to increase manufacturing and production in order to get the Deck out to more potential and waiting users.
Valve has also now announced that the Deck will be launching in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, and to introduce new customers to it, they have released a 52-page ebook. The ebook gives a background of Valve, an overview of Steam and its current and future potential applications, and the story of Steam Deck and how it came to fruition. Particularly interesting is the last part of the ebook, which details Valve’s potential plans for the Deck and its propriety SteamOS.
Valve states that “In the future, Valve will follow up on this product with improvements and iterations to hardware and software, bringing new versions of Steam Deck to market.”
This means we have thankfully not seen the last of the Deck, and more is to follow, with the necessary improvements and upgrades that will allow it to stay in the ‘game,’ so to speak.
Valve goes on to state, ” Like the original, and like all PCs, these future products will continue
to provide access to the same Steam game catalog that gamers already know and love.” The Deck runs on Valve’s SteamOS, which itself is a distro of Linux. Yet still, it is able to run Windows games.
This is achieved through Steam’s Proton translation layer. Valve states, “The Proton translation layer allows most Windows games to run with equal or better performance on SteamOS, without requiring game developers to do any heavy porting work to get their games running.” With over 4500 titles in Steam’s catalog, ‘Verified’ and ‘Playable,’ and more to follow, there is no end to the usability of Steam.
An interesting feature of Steam is its ‘Big Picture Mode,’ a version of Steam that is meant to be used through a game controller and on a TV screen, offering PC users a console experience. In the ebook, Valve says that the Deck’s user interface will no longer be limited to it and will soon be arriving on PC as a new version of the Big Picture Mode.
Moreover, the compatibility work for Steam won’t end here as the Deck’s compatibility work will be inherited by other platforms such as ChromeOS, which will soon support Steam gaming for all Chromebooks, according to Valve.
Valve also states that “We’ll soon be shipping a general installer for SteamOS, enabling any PC to take advantage of all of its features. In addition, we’ll soon be making SteamOS available for other
manufacturers who wish to make a gaming device of their own.”
This means that soon we’ll be able to use an official installation package of the SteamOS, and also, perhaps in the future, the Deck will not be the only commercially produced device to utilize the SteamOS. Maybe they will provide the license to use it to other manufacturers and companies, akin to many smartphones from different companies using the Android OS by Google.
In the end, Valve states, ” Anyway, this is a multi-generational product line. Valve will support Steam Deck and SteamOS well into the foreseeable future. We will learn from the Steam community about new uses for our hardware that we haven’t thought of yet, and we will build new versions to be even more open and capable than the first version of Steam Deck has been.”
Since Valve now officially sees the Steam Deck and SteamOS as a ‘multi-generational’ product line, we can now be sure that Valve is not done yet, and more is to follow. We are all happier for it as not only is Steam Deck an amazing product with many possibilities; its relevancy will compel Nintendo never to be lazy and continue to strive, as competition breeds perfection.
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