Valve have now announced their new handheld super-power Steam Deck. It is a handheld PC with a similar style to the Nintendo Switch and in some respects the Sega Game Gear.
Powered with 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and a custom Zen 2 AMD processor it boasts the power of a PC on-the-go. There will be three different prices depending on the model, with the basic model starting at £349/$399 with a 64GB eMMC storage option. There are two other models, each with SSD storage capabilities with the prices set at £459/$529 for the 250GB SSD version and £569/$649 for the 512GB SSD version. The Steam Deck will have mouse and keyboard capabilities as well as a dock similar ot the Nintendo Switch so that it can have a TV output. There is also a Bluetooth audio option for wireless headphones.
The handheld device will be able to install and play AAA games with the same power as a PC and will also include the capabilities to have Windows installed as well as other third party software. This highlights that it is more like a high-end tablet with controllers attached, which is not something new to the industry.
The Linx Vision 8 is a Windows tablet that was launched in 2015 in a manner that could be looked on as an early adopter of the PC handheld market. The device gave people the ability to run windows on the go and also included a large mounted controller dock which could be used with the games loaded on board. Another interesting feature was the wireless play mode that could be enabled with the Microsoft Xbox One, making it work much like a cross between a Nintendo Wii U and the current Remote Play features on the Xbox ecosystem.
So the premise of mobile PC gaming is not fundamentally new, but the power of the Steam Deck certainly does sound interesting, especially to those gamers that play predominantly on digital mediums. The question is now out as to whether this will make an impact on the sales numbers of the Nintendo Switch. However, the Switch has a strong market hold, physical media and various IP’s that will keep it going regardless of competition. What could be more of a logical outcome would be the impact on the high-end PC market as they could be no longer required, especially since this Steam Deck docks to a screen.