Fear not the fate of the Steam Deck, Valve’s ambitious, SteamOS-based handheld gaming PC. While the Deck’s release date was originally planned for sometime in December 2021, a Steam Community update from Valve has assured that they’re on track for the rescheduled launch next month.
“First and foremost, we’re on track to ship Steam Deck on time. Global pandemic, supply issues, and shipping issues notwithstanding, it looks like we'll be able to start getting these out the door by the end of February”, so says the post.
That should be good news to anyone who’s already paid the £4 reservation fee, though it’s worth remembering that the “expected order availability” of Steam Decks ticked over from late 2021 to early 2022 quite quickly after reservations opened. It’s therefore most likely that orders will be shipped on a rolling basis, rather than every single pre-orderer getting their device by February 31st. But we’ll see – considering how badly knackered the PC parts business has been these past two years, a couple months’ delay is hardly the worst outcome.
Valve’s post also confirms that testing for the Steam Deck Verified programme is ticking along; if you haven’t seen this, it’s a rating system that Valve will apply to games on Steam, providing at-a-glance info to users about how compatible a game will be with the Steam Deck. Games with the “Verified” rating will work fine immediately, “Playable” games will run but might need some settings tweaks or be missing some features, and “Unsupported” games simply won’t function as required. You should start seeing such labels on Steam game listings soon.
I included the Steam Deck in a recent list of PC hardware to look forward to in 2022, though potential compatibility problems with its Linux-based OS could understandably remain a concern among potential buyers. The Steam Deck Verified system should hopefully bring a bit more clarity to which games precisely will be able to play nice with the handheld when it launches next month.
For their part, Valve are looking to maximise the compatibility of Steam’s library, including offering help to other developers and updating their own, older games. Some simply won’t take, though - Steam Deck designers Greg Coomer and Lawrence Yang told us last year that they want to “get as close to 100%” of the Steam catalogue to play nice, but “not every game makes sense to bring to Steam Deck - for instance, we're all proud of Half Life: Alyx, but it's not a game that Steam Deck was meant to run.”