It’s Monday and time for Ask Kotaku, the weekly feature in which Kotaku-ites deal with a single burning question. Then we ask for your admission.
At first there were rumors of a Nintendo Switch Pro being in the announcement of the Switch OLED. Some fans fueled by speculation were disappointed. Enter valve.
Valve, manufacturer of Half a life, Half-life alyx-player the Valve Index and the must-have online marketplace, Steam, revealed his surprising portable gaming PC, the Steam Deck. That way, a lot more people seem interested in the possibility of tiny handheld gaming PCs. (Too bad there are Steam Decks now pre-ordered in the back half of 2022.)
This week we ask Kotaku: Are you interested in the Valve Steam Deck?
Oh hell Yes. I am a lazy gamer. There are often times when I have a strong desire to play a PC-only game but don’t want to be isolated in the cold solitude of my room so I just won’t play. With the Steam Deck, I can sit on my porch or in my conservatory and just play one of the many games that I can’t play on Switch, that I wanted to play but don’t have because I don’t want to get stuck at my desk.
Steam deck will be mine Persona 4 Golden Machine. I literally bought this game on Steam for mobile play from my Mac laptop only to notice that the Steam version of P4G is not Mac compatible (womp womp). I haven’t touched it since. I will be absolutely thrilled to have a device to play this game on on the go. And! According to an itch.io developer, Steam Deck will be compatible with the Itch.io app. I’m excited to make my Steam Deck my indie paradise machine for “all the little things”. I can not wait any longer!
Hollow Knight came out in 2017, but nobody at Kotaku started whining about it on and on until June of the following year when it finally hit Switch. There are a lot of such games –Stardew Valley, Kill the tower, Necro Dancer’s Crypt– great indie games that came to Steam first, but I never bothered about them until they hit Nintendo’s hybrid portable because I didn’t want to play them on the same PC that I work on for hours every day. The Steam Deck seems to be the perfect solution for this.
I’m not convinced the thing feels good or even that easy to play, especially for Steam games that aren’t really optimized for a handheld control scheme. When a game doesn’t require a cursor, I almost always prefer to play with a controller, and there are many games released on Steam that initially only support a mouse and keyboard. Still, if I can play my favorite arcade-y platformer, roguelikes, and bullet hells anywhere before they get to Switch and get that Nintendo markup, $ 400 seems like a well spent.
Also, Steam has a ton of old and new games that will likely never make it to Switch Dragon Age: Origins to Wild myth. If Valve is actually doing the hard work of making the Steam Deck a solid user experience (a big if) then it could easily become my favorite console.
No. The specs and price are good enough, but I have enough memory to tell the days when Valve tried to put pressure on it Steam engines on people. Or what about the unfortunate? Steam link? Or the cool but hardly supported Steam controller? Not to mention all the rumors that projects die when people at Valve lose interest or move on to something a little more shiny. Needless to say, my trust is in Valve’s shipping and support for this cause very low.
Even if it was great and Valve had a great track record of supporting and manufacturing hardware, this would still be a pass for me because it doesn’t seem really useful. I rarely go on long trips and work from home. So I spend a lot of time with video game consoles and a fast PC. I don’t need a portable PC. And when I go on a rare trip or vacation, I try to escape my job and not take it with me in the form of a handheld PC with a mediocre battery and high quality screen. When I want to play something, I can get my phone out and kill a lot less time, and it won’t break my wrists holding it.
I’m just slightly fascinated. For example, would I enjoy a free Steam Deck? Of course I would be kidding. But paying $ 650 for the vaguely spacious is a much bigger issue. I already have too many devices that I don’t use, and a portable Steam player would only add to the clutter and choice paralysis.
Which isn’t to say it’s not cool. One aspect that intrigues me is that it takes some of the interface ideas developed by Valve’s innovative, forward-thinking Steam Controller. The dual touchpads, four rear bumpers, and the sheer programmability of everything are really exciting. Triggers look pretty good too. However, the placement of the directional pad and face buttons makes them look like afterthoughts and ergonomic nightmares. So, note of concern.
The screen doesn’t convince me either. Maybe it was wrong to expect 1080p instead of something above 720p, but 1280×800 feels pretty crunchy these days and I’m a little concerned that the odd 16:10 resolution will cause display annoyance in games that prefer 16: 9 could. Hopefully not a big deal?
Still, I like Ash’s idea that the Steam Deck would be a perfect device for enjoying smaller indie games and Itch.io material. If I jumped on board, that would be the most compelling use case for me.
I am more than fascinated by the Steam Deck. I knew right away that I was going to reserve a space for the 512GB model. My partner is a huge gamer too, so we’ll both definitely get used to it. I find it appealing for the very reason why I often don’t play my PC as often as I want: it’s practical. I know some people love to have a dedicated play station and / or their own room, but I prefer to sit on the living room couch or in bed while playing with my partner and my kittens. I can do this with console games and my Switch in particular. But I don’t want to bring out a pc game so that I can sit alone in the office.
I see the Steam Deck as a luxury item, more than a solid gaming PC. But it’s one of those purchases that I’m looking at with my adult money and no one to tell me no and dive right into it. Treat yourself.
Steam Deck allows me to solve a dirty little secret: I’ve never owned a gaming PC and have no intention of ever investing in one. Too large. Too expensive. Too much research to fine-tune the thing. And every rig I build would need new parts on a constant cycle if I were to hope to have the most modern machine at all times.
Has this persistent attitude affected my job? You bet! Sometimes they ask me to wait forever for a game to appear on Switch (see: Hades). Sometimes it means that I missed a game completely (see: a list too long to type). But the Steam Deck is small, inexpensive and, above all, does not require any research. I can finally play PC games. Angry! It feels good to get this off my chest.
No I think it’s neat and I’d love to try it out, but it’s nothing new in hardware. There are already a number of handheld PC gaming devices on the market. Most of them kind of shit, but they can actually play PC games at decent speeds and resolutions. I like this GPD deal I found on Amazon. It costs over $1,000, sure, but it has a built-in keyboard and a fancy sliding display.
Hell, I’ve been playing with these things since back in 2013, when Razer released the Edge handheld PC gaming tablet. These devices have existed for a long time, just like gaming PCs were around a long time before Valve brought out its Steam Machines. I like that they’re trying to bring the price down to make portable PC gaming more affordable, but if people really wanted a PC gaming portable that’s not a gaming laptop, they would have caught on by now.
How About You?
Kotaku’s weighed in, but where do you stand? Do you want to use the Steam Deck to cozy up with your favorite indies? Or do you think it’s a waste of money? We’ll be back next time to deliberate and debate on another nerdy issue. See you in the comments!