Valve have announced their handheld PC gaming machine this week and oh boy the Steam Deck excitement is in the air. A handheld PC has all sorts of possibilities. It means we'll have a handheld that supports mods, which will be rad. Until Valve are able to sort out compatibility though, we could have a handheld that doesn't support several notable multiplayer games. Valve are currently working on getting support for the anti-cheat software required by such big names as Fortnite and Apex Legends prior to the Deck's launch.
Like their former Steam Machine system, the Steam Deck will run on Linux, not Windows. It will use a compatibility layer called Proton to run Windows games on Linux, a fork off of the Wine compatibility layer. Trouble is, not all games are compatible with Proton, though Valve say they're working on it.
"The team has been working on and improving Proton for a while now, and it has a large amount of coverage," according to Steam's current documentation. "Most APIs are already supported by Proton, and most games work out of the box. We're continuing to improve Proton compatibility, and our goal is to get as close to full coverage as possible."
One particular sticking point is anti-cheat software, those extra bits that come packed in with your Fortnites and Apex Legends and Destiny 2s and so on. Even if the games themselves are compatible with Proton, you won't be able to play unless their required anti-cheat programs are as well.
As of the current Steam Deck FAQs, Valve say "we’re working with BattlEye and [Easy Anti-Cheat] to get support for Proton ahead of launch." Those are two of the big ones, used in quite a lot of the most popular online games. Valve recommends that developers using anti-cheat solutions that aren't currently compatible reach out to their providers to work on getting support.
Present tense "working" on it isn't the most encouraging news for folks who might be excited to have an on-the-go PvP machine. It'll be worth keeping an eye on before making a commitment to one of Valve's portable PCs.
If you're no multiplayer fan, perhaps your mind is made up already. You lot will want to be logged in to Steam when Steam Deck orders begin today at 10am PT / 6pm BST.