In December 2021 Valve wants to bring the handheld PC Steam Deck onto the market - in three different versions. The manufacturer could create something that other developers have so far failed to do: a gaming PC “to go” with a comparatively long battery life and thus a direct competition to handheld consoles. The Nintendo Switch in particular could be threatened by the release of Steam Deck. Nintendo can look forward to the release with confidence, because the Switch has something that Steam Deck will never have.
Three versions with different technical features, three prices - that is the idea behind Steam Deck. Fans have to put 419, 549 or 679 euros on the counter to buy Steam Deck. Pre-orders are now possible, for which Valve charges four euros. Buyer then lands on a pre-order list and is given the option to purchase as soon as the handheld PC is available.
Steam Deck not much more expensive than Nintendo Switch
With Steam, Valve seems to want to compete directly with Nintendo. Understandable, after all, the Nintendo Switch with its refreshingly innovative concept has now sold around 85 million times. Valve is also confident: They want to sell “millions of copies”, Valve boss Gabe Newell stated in an interview with IGN. With the concept, the developers dare to venture into the border area between gaming PC and console, but the focus is on “gaming to go”. Up to now - with a few long-term exceptions established on the market - this was reserved for Nintendo with its handheld devices.
It is not unusual for the competition to come from the PC sector of all places. Computer components have become ever more energy-efficient and smaller, while performance resources have increased in recent years. Valve has now consistently thought through to the end of what has been launched with gaming cubes and mini PCs. The hardware, however, is impressive: Valves promises games in medium to high resolutions.
The technical specifications are already known:
- AMD APU CPU: Zen 2 4c / 8t, 2.4-3.5GHz (up to 448 GFlops FP32)
- GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz (up to 1.6 TFlops FP32)
- APU power: 4-15W
- 16 GB LPDDR5 RAM (5500 MT / s)
So you can play on the go without any problems. If Valve should actually manage to extend the battery life to up to eight hours, Steam Deck could actually establish itself on the market as a competitive gaming device parallel to the Nintendo Switch. From a purely technical point of view, Steam Deck is a kind of “switch” with the capabilities of a Playstation 4 or Xbox One. In any case, the information available so far is promising.
The fact that Valve starts with a low price hurdle should attract more interested parties. The basic model - then with slower eMMC storage - is only marginally more expensive than the Nintendo Switch. The system is connected to Valve's grandiose gaming platform Steam. Above all, this should make existing customers sit up and take notice, who will then not only be able to access their game library from anywhere, but will also be able to play from anywhere.
Nintendo gets competition: the big tremor?
The chances are good that Steam Deck will be a successful project, should Valve be able to deliver on the promised by December. The new handheld PC is in direct competition with Nintendo and the Nintendo Switch. So, should the Japanese start to shiver at the launch of Steam Deck? Not at all.
Steam Deck lacks something that Nintendo has leased for itself: the mighty Nintendo franchises. The often weak Nintendo consoles are not so successful because of their technical equipment, but because of the countless game titles that are reserved exclusively for Nintendo fans. Super Mario, Wario, Yoshi, Zelda, Metroid, Animal Crossing - all the millions of sellers are only available on Nintendo consoles. That alone is enough to develop an enormous pulling force for the Nintendo Switch, but also for future and older consoles and handhelds.
Even now, PC fans have primarily resorted to the Nintendo Switch to play titles that are not available for their previously favored platforms. In terms of the quality of the games, it's worth it: Nintendo's hobbyhorses convince regularly and get top marks. Theoretically, Steam Deck will also be able to make old games from other systems playable - after all, there are more than enough emulators. However, the nostalgic classics are no real competition to current Nintendo games.
Nevertheless: There is a small risk that the technical innovation of Steam Deck could cost the Nintendo Switch a few fans - namely those for whom Nintendo Handheld Hybrid does not focus on in-house franchises, but on the possibility of mobile gaming. With some titles it is already foreseeable which of the two console players will have more fun with on the go: Doom Eternal, for example. The AAA shooter is also available for Nintendo Switch - and it runs surprisingly well there - but the game will look nicer on Steam Deck. Nintendo will also be new to this OLED model Do not change anything that is not more powerful than the standard switch, but only relies on a few quality of life features and a new display. At least that is one of its strengths: Valve's Steam Deck only offers an LCD display, i.e. less intense black levels, colors and contrasts.
And: The multiplayer magic of the Nintendo Switch will not reach Steam Deck either. The improved display on the Nintendo Switch (OLED) makes gaming at the table even easier and more convenient. With the detachable Joy-Cons, at least two players can play together or compete against each other. Steam Deck does not offer this, so it is primarily aimed as "solo players" who then have to connect with other console owners in order to be able to enjoy multiplayer content together. The couch-co-op feeling inherent in the Nintendo Switch does not exist with Valve's handheld. A docking station, on the other hand, will also be available for Valve's model, but as an optional accessory that incurs additional costs.
Ultimately, players have to choose what is really more important to them in a handheld device: technology or a family game portfolio. The Nintendo Switch will remain the better choice, especially for families with children. And the loyal Nintendo fans will not be so easily lured into the other camp by technology promises, where they then have to do without bestsellers such as Super Mario Odyssey, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which the chart lists after their publication cited.
If you just focus on the technology, Steam Deck is undoubtedly ahead of the game. This is exactly what is not important in the core of a portable console. Which is the better choice in the end depends on the type of player and personal gaming taste. After all, the competition for Nintendo has never been as big as with Steam Deck.
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Last updated on 4.08.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API