Weekend Question: Do you think the Steam Deck will be a success?

PCG Jody

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Dec 9, 2019
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I ask the PCG staff a regular Weekend Question and post the answers on the site. If you'd like to throw in an answer here, I'll squeeze the best into the finished article!

This week's question is: Do you think the Steam Deck will be a success?

Valve has announced its own handheld device, the Steam Deck, which is a very William Gibson thing to call it. Have you been tempted to slap a $5 deposit down? What do you think the odds are of it doing well? Maybe there are enough people out there with kids who hog their Switch, or who want to play indie games on the go without paying the Nintendo mark-up, or need more ways to chip through their backlog of PC games. Or maybe this will be another abandoned Valve experiment, like the Steam Machine or Gordon Freeman.
 

Alm

Jan 17, 2020
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I am tempted. I think I'll put £4 down and keep my eye on how hardware reviews develop. I watched a hands-on with IGN on YouTube and it was pretty positive in the main. I can't afford an AYA Neo but this is just as good for me at nearly half the price. And having hundreds of my games on Steam makes this potentially trump my Switch.

To answer the original question: I think it will be popular, but might end up being a niche device. I don't see it competing with Switch/Playstation/Xbox in a meaningful way. I could be wrong though.
 
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Kaamos_Llama

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Jan 31, 2020
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People have been waiting for a more powerful Switch for a while. Its a great little system but its starting to struggle with even some newer indies, I heard Boomerang X isn't great on Switch and Hyrule Warriors ran badly. Even Zelda BOW was running pretty framey 3/4 years ago.

The Steam Deck isn't going to play new AAA games like Cyberpunk fantastically well whatever they say, its still integrated graphics running on a Zen 2 based CPU. It seems to be the GPU from the Ryzen 5700G clocked slower with a slower Ryzen 3 3100 processor attached to it.

EDIT: I'd only scanned the PCG article before posting, this is incorrect. Its using the latest generation of AMD graphics so it should be faster than the 5700G, sorry. How much faster we'll have to wait and see.

Much more powerful than the Switch though, and people will have access to all of their own games and Steam sales without having to pay Nintendo tax. The price is right too, I think it will do well.

Personally I need a new tablet, I've been using my Switch mostly as a Youtube device recently and its annoying I can't stream Netflix or Prime to it. If this also allows me to play games when I'm travelling like the Switch, and I don't have to buy anything specifically for it, then it makes a lot of sense for me.
 
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Jan 14, 2020
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I ask the PCG staff a regular Weekend Question and post the answers on the site. If you'd like to throw in an answer here, I'll squeeze the best into the finished article!

This week's question is: Do you think the Steam Deck will be a success?

Valve has announced its own handheld device, the Steam Deck, which is a very William Gibson thing to call it. Have you been tempted to slap a $5 deposit down? What do you think the odds are of it doing well? Maybe there are enough people out there with kids who hog their Switch, or who want to play indie games on the go without paying the Nintendo mark-up, or need more ways to chip through their backlog of PC games. Or maybe this will be another abandoned Valve experiment, like the Steam Machine or Gordon Freeman.
I think this will be a huge success. Even if you didn't want to play on the go (or in bed, etc), you could buy it and hook it up to your monitor, keyboard, and other devices, creating a decent desktop PC (based on Steam hardware surveys, many people are gaming on low end PC's anyway). It's going to be the cheapest way to get into PC gaming and seems to have the power and price point to be a legitimate option for everyone. This could potentially mean many more PC gamers, which would have an enormous positive impact on PC gaming as a whole.

One other thing: If it ever becomes available in Japan, I think it could be a huge hit there, where PC gaming barely registers now, but handhelds are all the rage. Getting a foothold in Japan would be great, not only for the financial health of the PC gaming ecosystem, but also for the breadth of games available on PC. While PC is already the go-to platform for game variety, encouraging Japanese developers to port more of their games to PC would be great for all of us gamers.

As for whether I'm tempted to put $5 down to reserve one, yes I am, but the hardware shortage and doubts about how many will actually be available in December are kind of working to hold back my enthusiasm. I'd rather wait until I can hop onto Steam and just buy one and have it shipped immediately.
 
Nov 27, 2020
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I think it could be very successful, especially in Japan as ZedClampet mentioned, but the big thing will be availability. Will they be able to produce & ship enough to keep up with the orders? That could be huge. Is it going to be a similar situation like the Nvidia RTX cards: great technology but very few people can actually buy one? A situation like that would certainly limit it's success.
 

Brian Boru

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Aug 25, 2020
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As a few have said, availability of the whole Steam—and every other PC games retailer—library will be this device's 'killer app'. So the main issue, as others also said, is supply—if they can get a good number on the table early December, then it'll be a holiday smash. Otherwise, a painful wait.

The basic storage is low—256GB might get you 2 AAA titles on board. 512 helps, but they really should have a 1TB option as well.

This can only help PC gaming, so I wish it every success.
 
Jan 16, 2020
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The premise is interesting enough; your steam game collection on the go with the ability to upscale when at home etc. It worked for the nintendo Switch so will it work here? To be brutally honest i doubt it. My main doubt is perhaps the hardware itself, game specs increase constantly and will this thing obsolete very quickly. But then again, you are playing on a smaller screen so that might work in its favor to keep things low. But on the other hand, the basic/mid tier model 64/256 gb disk space is pretty worthless if i want to play modern games that have 100gb+ as standard... But for now, i'll give it the benefit of the doubt. If Steam/devs work their magic and somehow get most/all of the games running on the deck for several years then great.
 

Kaamos_Llama

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Jan 31, 2020
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Looking into the specs a bit more its almost as if you cut an Xbox series S in half for both CPU and GPU, and a bit worse again then that. Same architecture on both CPU and GPU but also using effectively much slower (V)RAM.

This is going to be an Indie game machine going forwards, its unlikely to play the most recent and future AAA games well. That being the case the amount of storage is probably not too bad for those types of games.
 
Jan 23, 2020
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I'm pretty sure I've mentioned how John Carmack criticized the Steam Machines' usage of Linux, and how he was proven right when they launched and failed. With the failure of the Steam Machines in mind, I doubt the average consumer would see Proton running Windows games on Linux, but rather a Linux box with no games if you look at the Steam Linux library. To those people, going for the more convenient Nintendo Switch would be the better option for them than to jump through the hoops and sweat bullets over the removal of SteamOS in favour of Windows

I think it'd do well for Valve to provide developers with an up-front monetary incentive to port those games so those that are even vaguely interested in the system would have zero risk when making those games for the Steam Deck. Reason that's important is that if they're to make games for the Steam Deck and it goes belly up, the developers will be punished for it rather than Valve. I also would like to think that Valve should approach Japanese developers into porting their console games to SteamOS so as to help sell the Steam Deck as a Switch Pro model from an alternate universe. Stuff like Rune Factory 5, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles or even games that are only on the PS4 and/or Xbox One but not on PC could help push that point forward
 

Kaamos_Llama

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Jan 31, 2020
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According to Gameranx, Jedi Fallen Order was running on "High" settings on it in the trailer. That sounds powerful enough to me to be worth the money. Hoping it won't be a glorified indie/emu machine.
They do say that, I wonder how they've managed it with the hardware they are using also running through Linux. Jedi Fallen Order is also 2 years old already..

Reserving the right to be pleasantly surprised :)
 
Jan 23, 2020
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Oh, and another thing that crossed my mind is the GPD Win 3. Looking at both the videos from YouTube user AngelKnight and the post that Kaamos_Llamaearlier, Valve's handheld will struggle to justify its existence if it's to have similar performance to the Win 3, but with the caveats of having to virtualize Windows apps in a Linux environment which could bring up issues of program stability. Also, when compared to the GPD Win 3, the Steam Deck looks like it's also gonna lose in the ergonomics and portability game, too.

Main thing it's got going for it is price and raytracing. Price because it's a Linux machine and only has 476 GB of storage vs the Win 3's 951 GB (accounting for kilobytes being 1024B rather than 1000B). Also, having a physical keyboard and a Windows 10 installation means that the Win 3 can be a capable machine when you're NOT gaming.

Third time i edited this cuz i have troubles putting my thoughts into words.
 
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Kaamos_Llama

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Oh, and another thing that crossed my mind is the GPD Win 3. Looking at both the videos from YouTube user AngelKnight and the post that Kaamos_Llamaearlier, Valve's handheld will struggle to justify its existence if it's to have similar performance to the Win 3, but with the caveats of having to virtualize Windows apps in a Linux environment which could bring up issues of program stability. Also, when compared to the GPD Win 3, the Steam Deck looks like it's also gonna lose in the ergonomics and portability game, too.

Main thing it's got going for it is price and raytracing. Price because it's a Linux machine and only has 476 GB of storage vs the Win 3's 951 GB (accounting for kilobytes being 1024B rather than 1000B). Also, having a physical keyboard and a Windows 10 installation means that the Win 3 can be a capable machine when you're NOT gaming.
The GPD Win 3 seems to do pretty well in newish AAA games with a similar screen- It does have a stronger processor though. As you say the Steam deck is having to use this Proton compatibility layer which is going to affect performance for the worse, at least initially.

Its hard to judge the Intel XE onboard graphics versus AMD's RDNA2 as there's no direct comparison available. The only other things using the same architectures as Steam Deck are the PS5 and new Xbox's which cant really be compared as they are pushing 4K resolution and not using Linux.

I don't think we are going to see much ray tracing being used, AMDs RT is not as strong as Nvidias and this is a hugely cut down version of it.

Totally agree the price is the most attractive thing here, I'm never going to spend 1000 on a handheld but 399 or 500 I'm tempted even if its just a stronger Switch I already have 200 odd games for.

Third time i edited this cuz i have troubles putting my thoughts into words.
Not unusual for me to take 20 minutes to write a post like this because I have to check everywhere for benchmarks and articles. I still miss stuff and get it wrong all the time and end up deleting half of it because I tend to ramble :p
 
Sep 21, 2020
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add the ability for it to make phone calls and stream vids and i can see tons of people replacing their phones for this. Sure it's big, but these days there are so many bags and places to store things i don't see that as a huge issue. Now if they want to get fancy they could even add a micro dock for a small removable phone adapter.. (aka the phone merges into the deck, then when you pull it out it's just your phone on the go, and really small at that)

My guess it will be a great thing for lots of folks, But is it going to replace a phone for gaming with the added use of a phone? If it does it would be huge.
 
Sep 21, 2020
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I think its funny people think scalping is new. People were scalping toys in at least the 80's, Concert/sports tickets long before that.. I dunno why folks think this is a new thing. It's just easier these days and a lot less risky. People used to get busted on the street for selling a ticket to a concert for 20 bucks over ticket price, now they list um at +500 and it's legal over at stubhub

It's supply and demand. If you have it and someone wants it, it can happen. Hell i've actually thought about selling my car because i can get a good 2-3k more than it's worth right now. Only reason why i haven't is because well outside of kinda needing it which i can work around.. It has equipment that would cost me a good 1k go transfer so it's not really worth the hassle.. for 5k maybe though but i really like my car so i most likely won't. We did sell a PT cruiser though, i thought it would take longer but the car market is kinda hot right now.

im really thinking about grabbing one of these just to resell, sometimes your time and effort is actually worth something more but probably won't, not sure i want to take the risk for a possible profit. my car insurance is due around the same time.
 
Sep 21, 2020
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Oh another thing.. People are vastly under estimating how many people are phone gamers. I think these folks will be the larger market, or switch users with better tools. It's a huge untapped market at this point. It would be better than that ipad or tablet that millions of parents give their kids.

Also, i'm not sure why steam scuttled the steam machine, controler, tv stuff.. it actually worked very well. There problem was advertising. They needed to push to another market, not PC gamers. They already have their way of doing things. They needed to market to the console, non pc crowd. That is why those failed, not because any of them were bad.
 

Kaamos_Llama

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Jan 31, 2020
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Oh another thing.. People are vastly under estimating how many people are phone gamers. I think these folks will be the larger market, or switch users with better tools. It's a huge untapped market at this point. It would be better than that ipad or tablet that millions of parents give their kids.

Also, i'm not sure why steam scuttled the steam machine, controler, tv stuff.. it actually worked very well. There problem was advertising. They needed to push to another market, not PC gamers. They already have their way of doing things. They needed to market to the console, non pc crowd. That is why those failed, not because any of them were bad.
I don't think this is something that will attract or that is aimed at phone/tablet gamers. At this point I think phone gamers are mostly either your Candy Crush types or they are people for who a PC or console is out of reach price wise. there are loads more of them, but most dont care about gaming consoles.

Switch users for sure, this is a direct competitor to the Switch, the announcement timing was not a coincidence after the disapointment following the Nintendo OLED edition announce.

I'd say Steam machines failed because they were running Steam OS (Linux) and many games didnt run on it. Steam machines didnt wind up being any cheaper as they were just PC's, and if youre going to pay the price of a PC why buy one that doesn't play half or more of the games available?

Steam Link is still very much alive and well and working as a phone app though, loads of people use it.
 
Sep 21, 2020
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I don't think this is something that will attract or that is aimed at phone/tablet gamers. At this point I think phone gamers are mostly either your Candy Crush types or they are people for who a PC or console is out of reach price wise. there are loads more of them, but most dont care about gaming consoles.

No offense here, but your kinda out of touch with cellphone gamers as i was untill about a year or so ago, maybe 1.5. Call of duty is huge with them. Mine craft is a huge mobile game for younger folks as well games like stardew valley and the list goes on. I know folks that play at the bar all the time, others play on lunch breaks, riding the bus ect.. It's gotten huge over the last few years. I know many that play CoD 3+ hours a day. Racing games are another great one to play on them. It might not be for me, but it's really growing.

for many screen size is not really an issue. I can play on my 55" tv, or my 25" monitor.. I choose my monitor around 99.9% of the time even though my comp is more than capable of the tv. I think FMV stuff is about the only thing i like on the tv and those are more which-way books than games for the most part.

If they market this thing right it will be a huge success. The thing is i've never even seen steam advertise on the news for example, like GMA, or during a sport event or what ever. You need to market to the non hard core PC gamer. A they already know about it, and B, the giant market are the folks that barely know what steam is aka the console market.

IMO steam machine was pretty solid, and another avenue, but they just dropped the ball. Again, they needed to market to the console gamer for a better gaming experience, not the higher end comp gamer. They could of grown newbie comp gamers with it but they really just failed. I wonder if it had anything to do with EPIC, and them deciding to focus more on the steam GUI/experience because they have really stepped it up since epic has come on to the scene.
 
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