One of the main scenarios that the world of videogames has had is the portable world.
For years, being able to enjoy games on a device that is not sitting on a table and connected to a screen has been a complex mountain to climb. Quality and playability was delivered in exchange for the mobility and viability of each game that we had in hand.
This situation seems to have largely remained in the past, thanks to the accumulation of factors that altered the classic perception of gaming forever, including technological improvements and trial and error within the world of mobile systems that have placed us at the doors of something renovated.
The Steam Deck announcement has specialized critics and the industry in a period of expectation and reflection, as it is a system that aspires to challenge a space that has only had one clear dominator for 3 decades, Nintendo.
It has not been due to a lack of contenders, but because the Japanese brand has managed to be so consistent in its mobile platforms that it has reached the point where rivals have simply lowered their arms and surrendered in the fight for supremacy.
Although the proper names of portable consoles are 9 out of 10 times belonging to Nintendo, there are references in the past that attest that companies have sought to hit the nail on the head for this type of platform.
Pieces like the Atari Lynx or the Sega Game Gear tried to plant their flag with different perspectives and styles from Nintendo’s trusted Game Boy between the 80s and the 90s. Seeking to go further than their rival, they privileged power and gaming capabilities. in their systems, but they were disappointed thanks to the vulnerability of this platform, the battery.
With higher power demands, it was less profitable to own a Game Gear than a Game Boy, even if their best games performed better, so failure invariably knocked on their doors. In Japan, the SNK company put the Neo Geo Pocket on the table, which like all its systems had a low level of sales in the West due to its high cost, despite having a fairly good performance.
In its homeland, the Neo Geo Pocket Color competed with the Game Boy Color between 1999 and 2001, but was eventually discontinued as it had a very short library of titles.
But it would be Sony that would throw its hat into the ring with force, with the development of the powerful PlayStation Portable. A system that would bring the power of the dominant home console brand into the hands of mobile users.
His challenge against Nintendo was quite consistent, fighting side by side with the Nintendo DS around the world and taking advantage of quality games and response from the public. Years later, the PSP continues to be an important reference for the gamer world.
Its generational successor, PS Vita, was not so lucky. Coinciding in a generational struggle with the Nintendo 3DS, the new Sony laptop did not bring with it the roots of many brands like its predecessor, being limited to being a solid system in Japan without roots in the West.
Laptops die, mobiles rise
One of the situations that marked a decisive line for the world of videogames was the growth of the Android and iOS platforms for mobile phones and tablets, increasing their viability to present games there.
For the industry it was the perfect space, since it allowed them to develop the monetization techniques that they would transfer to the rest of the industry in a short time, but also to exploit a highly viable platform for games of an increasing technical level.
While the mainstream industry rambled between PlayStation and Xbox consoles, emerging companies like miHoYo developed their level of programming to the point of jumping in a few years from games like Guns GirlZ to phenomena like Genshin Impact.
Portable consoles could not run at the same speed as a platform that could offer games and social networks with a couple of taps, so the concept had to change and that could only be done by its greatest representative.
Nintendo took the idea that featured the presentation of the Wii U and made it the center of its new system. Nintendo Switch was by definition a hybrid console, designed to be played in all possible arenas without strings attached. Redefining the concept of “portable console” in a world where there is no room for them.
From there, Nintendo lives an era where it stands on a pedestal where it cannot compare itself to its competitors. The Switch doesn’t have the power to keep up with tech beasts like PC, PlayStation, or Xbox, just as it doesn’t keep pace with Android and iOS mobile games, whose titles and styles are vastly different.
But this would be about to change with the arrival of Steam Deck.
The Flatland console
The Steam Deck offering is one of the best conceivable in the gaming world at this point, essentially offering a portable method of playing PC titles.
Steam is for many the platform with the best catalog and performance in the world of video games, being the main reference of a digital library that unifies all kinds of titles and generations within the market. So a system of this brand, exclusively assigned to run these games sounds like a dream come true.
Popular belief is that the Steam Deck goes for the Nintendo Switch pedestal, delivering the home console gaming experience on a laptop with a higher level of operability (on paper) than the clicker console. But it may be about something more ambitious, by essentially making the Steam Deck in a way that would allow it a wider range.
Its operating system allows games beyond the Steam umbrella to reach this system, this mini PC. Therefore, it is conceivable that works such as League of Legends or Call of Duty: Warzone can work on this platform. What would be a coup capable of altering the future of the video game industry, if it is viable and sustainable.
Should Nintendo tremble at the arrival of the Steam Deck? Probably not, it is too early to make such a bold forecast as declaring a new king when it has even been for sale, but it is certainly something more than interesting to see in the future of gaming.