Whelp, that didn’t take long. Steam Deck dev kits were only sent out to game developers this week, and it looks like Valve’s handheld PC is already getting picked apart. That’s according to SteamDB creator Pavel Djundik, who tweeted screenshots of the Steam Deck UI before claiming the entire SteamOS 3 operating system has been leaked.
The screenshots will probably look familiar to anyone who’s been keeping up with the Steam Deck, as it matches what we’ve already seen in official images (as well as hands-on videos from those who, unlike RPS, could go visit Valve during a global pandemic). Actually, the Storage Manager is worth highlighting - I like how colourfully it breaks down the amount of space that game, DLC and Workshop content are respectively hogging. What’s also interesting about these particular shots, besides the dev kit labelling, is that Djundik says they were snapped on Windows, not on an actual Steam Deck.
While it will be possible to install Windows on the Steam Deck, that suggests this is how the UI will appear on a big desktop screen. Outside of the Steam Deck’s monitor connectivity, which Valve's Greg Coomer and Lawrence Yang elaborated on in our Steam Deck interview, the Deck UI will eventually replace Steam's Big Picture mode on conventional PCs. As such, this could be our first look at the new mode in action. Completely still, JFIF-y action.
The more dramatic climax to Djundik’s tweets is that SteamOS 3 isn’t just getting slapped onto Windows hardware and screenshotted, but has supposedly leaked – via the dev kits – in full. “People are already getting it running on other portable consoles”, he adds, possibly on other Deck-like handheld PCs like the GPD Win 3, Aya Neo and OnexPlayer.
Unsurprisingly, given most people probably wouldn’t want Valve lawyers rappelling through their bedroom windows at 3am, the leaked OS image isn’t exactly easy to find. However, the SteamOS subreddit is actively discouraging users from trying to download and install it, with moderators promising to delete any links to it.
The dev kit software is subject to change anyway, so even if the leak is real and you’re mighty curious, tracking down a copy arguably isn’t worth the risk of some slipped-in malware. The “subject to change” part extends to those screenshots too, though again, in a strict design sense there’s little we haven’t seen before. The Steam Deck UI still resembles a mildly rejigged take on the desktop Steam app, with more of a focus on button and thumbstick inputs. Djundik also says the store isn’t up and running yet, so that’s something else to be patient for.
Valve is planning the Steam Deck launch for the end of this year, though anyone who reserved a Deck beforehand may have to wait until Q2 2022 and beyond for their unit to arrive. Don't expect to find any hidden hardware secrets in it, either.