Jul 15, 2021 - Technology

Valve's Steam Deck unveiled as another Switch competitor

Photo of two sets of arms playing games on a handheld game consoler
Credit: Valve

Valve is officially entering the crowded market of Switch-like portable gaming PCs with the unveiling of the Steam Deck, a system stuffed with impressive features.

Why it matters: Valve's device is the latest effort to tap into an audience who likes the idea of the hybrid Switch but would prefer to play PC games and won’t mind missing Mario.

  • It's set to start shipping this December and will run games from Valve's Steam marketplace while also supporting, Valve says, the ability to run any other PC-based store.

Between the lines: The $399 (and up) Steam Deck appears to be a capable portable PC, running at a beefier spec than the Switch. (Official specs)

  • Like the Switch's upcoming $350 OLED model, it has a 7-inch screen.
  • Its control sticks are touch-sensitive, and it sports two front-facing trackpads designed to allow for mouse-like movement for games not designed to be run with sticks and buttons.
  • The device is also larger and heavier than Nintendo's and won't come with a bundled dock, though it does connect to monitors and TVs.

To ward off scalpers, Valve is requiring anyone who pre-orders the system to put down a deposit.

  • It will also only permit initial pre-orders this Friday to people who have bought something on Steam prior to June. Everyone else has to wait until Sunday.

The bottom line: Valve's hardware track record is shaky, and it's veering the closest it ever has to competing with the most successful company in video game history.

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