Valve announced their portable PC gaming machine earlier this month and the interviews and details about the Steam Deck have been rolling in steadily since. Among them, courtesy of another IGN interview, are some of Steam Deck's origins. President and co-founder Gabe Newell says that the Deck began as a "natural conversation" about how Valve would contribute to PC gaming in the future, and also dished some of the early names from the Deck drawing board.
They start out by asking Newell about how conversations around the Steam Deck started. This isn't Valve's first foray into hardware of course. Our Valve Index review calls their VR headset the gold standard, but earlier efforts like the Steam Controller and Steam Machine didn't earn any longevity in PC gaming. Given that, you might think Valve would be a little wary of continued hardware efforts. Not so, Newell says. They're always talking about adding to PC gaming as a whole.
"A lot of times the conversations we're having internally are about 'What can we contribute? How are we adding something to the PC gaming community?'," Newell explains. "So it wasn't that strange a conversation. We're always talking about mobile gaming platforms and the tradeoffs we feel exist for ourselves as game players and as game developers."
Beyond that, Newell thinks that gamers have always been looking for a serious PC gaming handheld gaming contender. "I think a lot of gamers have always felt that there's not a great mobile gaming hardware device out there for us to use," Newell says, referencing touch controls as not great for FPS games and the "proprietary direction" of other handheld devices.
"It's like any gamer. Somebody comes along and says 'here's actually the kind of gaming experience where you can take the best games in the world and run them in a mobile environment.' We all have known that forever. If you'd asked gamers 20 years ago they would have been saying the same thing. We're sort of at the point now where the enabling technologies have advanced and the mobile gaming hardware has reached the point where we can really pull that off."
As for other early days of the Steam Deck, naturally other names were in the hat before Deck won out. "Steam Buddy," Newell says, and also "Steam Pal," as was previously rumored.
"Very early on we had pretty terrifying prototypes so we gave them appropriate names like 'Ugly Baby' and things like that," adds Valve developer Pierre-Loup Griffais. "Those weren't great. We didn't go for that, as far as name goes."
I dunno, maybe they should have called up Kojima and had a talk about the Steam BB, eh?
We've learned a lot of other things about the Steam Deck in the last few weeks. Valve say they're taking no risks on stick drift with the Deck and that it will support installing other game stores and game mods. Ubisoft, who've not been bringing new games to Steam in the last few years, say they'll consider bringing games to the Steam Deck if it's big.
Preorders for the portable PC have already opened up over on Steam for the three different models.