The Steam Deck seems to promise a parcel good stuff for a laptop. It’s something cool for me: a portable PC gaming machine with enough technology under the hood that I can reliably access my Steam library on the go in a way that I can’t with a laptop. or other PC devices on the go. For someone like me in particular, who regularly participates in indie games, while also sharing and talking about them for a post like Shacknews, the Steam Deck seems like it was designed to fit into a niche that I quite fill. good. The only thing that makes me think is Valve. You see, Valve only has a few material wins under its belt and a parcel uneven history with the hardware. As much as I’d like to fully believe in the Steam Deck, I can’t help but think about both the history of Valve and the current situations that may hinder the company’s promising new material.
Machines, links and chases
When considering the failures in Valve’s hardware library, the one that comes to mind the most is the Steam Machine. The Steam Engines were meant to be Gabe Newell and Valve’s answer to their pessimistic view of the operating systems direction of Microsoft and Apple at the time and the abysmal Windows 8. It was a machine based on Linux which was supposed to provide gamers with a meaningful approach. PC games and their Steam library in the living room. Additionally, steam engines were meant to be largely customizable to your needs. It can be as simple as streaming Steam from a PC (a concept that formed the basis of Steam Link and other better-performing products) to a console-sized device, to a bulky PC in your living room that might even run Crysis.
In reality, the Steam Machines at launch weren’t able to function in the way that Valve envisioned. Linux wasn’t quite at the stage where it was good enough for practical consumer use, and the groups that Steam licensed to create the Steam Machines sometimes didn’t load SteamOS with it at all. Instead, many of them loaded it up with Windows despite the original purpose of the project. As a result, some of these machines were barely able to tap into the Steam library. Reliable PC games in the living room would continue to be a pipe dream for anyone except niche DIY enthusiast for years to come. The first steam engines became available in 2015 and while better machines came out that could do what Valve had promised, it was only three years before the last of them was withdrawn from sale. in 2018.
Arguably the most notable device to come out of the steam engines was the Steam Link. This device was intended to connect to your PC and bring games to your TV through your home network. Many users have reported that as long as you have a good Wi-Fi network, it does just fine. The Link performed well during production, but its main downside was that it was limited to what it was designed for, unlike other products like this. It has become obsolete, mainly due to the fact that everything you would ever need from a Steam link has finally been incorporated into apps and software that can be loaded onto mobile devices or smart TVs. Valve itself acknowledged this and ditched the Link in 2018 in favor of creating a Steam Link app for mobile devices and creating a version of the Steam Link software. specifically for use on Raspberry Pi microcomputers.
Then there is the Steam Controller. Quite the device, this controller aimed to replace analog d-pads with haptic touchpads. It was an interesting technology in theory. However, its critical flaw was to remove the basic functional format of directional pads entirely and replace it with these touchpads. They were interesting, but not something you should give a primary level of control over. Even the PlayStation, which has used a touchpad of questionable merit for years, keeps it in the center as an alternate control device. There are some people who really love the Steam Controller, but it has never been intuitive and easy to use like the PS and Xbox controllers have proven successful.
Damn, even if you do Aside from the fact that the Steam controller was not intuitive, that would leave out the lawsuit that hit Valve for $ 4 million from SCUF and Ironberg Inventions. Sued for patent infringement, SCUF and Ironberg have successfully argued that Valve ripped out key elements from their designs when designing the steam controller. It was previously scrapped in 2019, but this lawsuit ensured that Valve would likely never bring back the Steam Controller in any way.
Not bad at all, says the VR sector
It would be misleading or simply ignorant to say that Valve’s entire hardware history has been a failure, even without Steam Link saying otherwise. No, the company has actually been quite the cutting edge player in virtual reality. Sure, products like the Oculus Quest 2 and the HP Reverb G2 have brought a certain level of VR accessible to gamers around the world, but when it comes to the cutting edge of VR, Valve has been almost more involved than anyone.
First of all, Valve’s early experiences with VR design were apparently a fundamental part of what made Oculus successful. According to various sources including Chief Valve Engineer Alan Yates, Valve loaned a key prototype to Oculus, which would supposedly modify the design and create the Rift. Even then, Valve was also playing a major role in helping HTC design the Vive. The first Vive was clunky and difficult to set up (as pretty much most VR headsets of the time were), but Valve’s technology under the hood delivered the most incredible features and performance as well. Since 2016, HTC and the Vive brand continue to be one of the most powerful players in the commercial and consumer VR space.
Valve wasn’t content to sit on the sidelines after the Vive, however. Gabe Newell has long been an investor in advancing brain-computer interfaces, so much so that it was one of the few reasons the Half-Life series returned for the spectacular Shacknews 2020 Game of the Year, Half-Life: Alyx. Valve had already helped HTC, but the developers wanted to use their technology to create their own device entirely, and they succeeded in creating the powerhouse that is the Valve Index. The Valve Index is by no means practical with a price tag of around $ 1,000, but there’s arguably nothing quite as good for VR gaming in the mainstream space.
It is the thing, however. Valve arguably broke new ground in consumer gaming technology and hardware, but the results were either patchy, limited, incredibly expensive, and specialized, or faded into oblivion. We have yet to see any innovative valve hardware at a practical price that could provide unique function and versatility beyond a few years. If it wasn’t Valve’s fault, it was the fault of the groups they chose to partner with and the stipulations of those partnerships. The point is, Valve’s practical hardware just wasn’t designed or marketed to sell or stand the test of time.
Valve is not above an ongoing tech crisis
Back to the Steam Deck. Again, this device looks promising. Its specs are pretty impressive for the price it is offered and the resulting customization and add-on factors make it seem like those who want versatility will be happy with it. Even if you don’t want to tinker around, the models each seem to provide an interesting laptop gaming experience capable of accessing Steam libraries with relative ease. Valve even promised that its Steam Deck design would solve important issues that other similar handhelds have faced.
However, despite all the promises, there’s one more thing Valve doesn’t control: the semiconductor starvation. The Steam Deck looks wonderful, but Valve is just as much at the mercy of supply and demand as everyone else in the business from time to time. When you look at the fact that Valve said the first batch of Steam Decks would arrive in December, and then pre-orders returned to Q2 and Q3 of 2022, it’s not hard to see that the Steam Deck can be very short. . provide for quite a long time. Does that indicate the overall quality of the Steam Deck for what we’ve seen? Of course not. The basic models still look good. Will Valve look for cheaper and more available components to meet this challenge? This is the part that interests me, as they are already testing the Steam Deck at a loss in order to get more hardware developers to compete in the laptop space.
Overcome the challenges of the past and present
I am not in favor of the failure of the Steam Deck. On the contrary, I pre-ordered it. I want this thing to be as good as Valve says it is. I want to play PC games and access my Steam library with an easy to use portable device. I want to explore new options for covering and sharing the indie games that I love so much. I also like the idea of a portable machine that can support more modern games reliably when plugged in or docked.
That said, Valve’s hardware history and current tech issues are something I’m going to be concerned about. This should be something every player should be aware of tackling because we all take a risk. History casts a shadow over the Steam Deck this holiday. I really hope Valve has what it needs to count the Steam Deck in the win column this year and keep it in rotation for years to come as a versatile and conveniently priced gaming machine.