The Steam Deck, Valve’s attempt at a fully portable handheld PC, has taken another step towards being an actual product. In a Steam blog post, Valve have shown off the Steam Deck dev kits that are leaving the roost to provide game developers with some hands-on time, ahead of the planned launch this December. They grow up so fast, eh?
The Steam Deck dev kit program will allow developers to feed back to Valve on the hardware, while this blog post provides the rest of us with the first official snaps of the Deck since the surprise reveal back in July. There are no visible changes to the dev kit units since then, as far as I can see, and the post states that the dev kits are “functionally identical to what will ship”, so it’s very possible that this is the final design, even with the imminent collection of developer feedback.
What else can we learn from these rare in situ shots? Not a great deal about the device itself, granted. The pic of a dev-bound Steam Deck standing over a full-size mechanical keyboard simply reconfirms that it is, in, a Large Boy, at least by the standards of handheld gaming machines. However, I am interested - perhaps disproportionately so – in the Valve-branded carry cases that the dev kits are shipping out with.
Valve has already shown off a boxier, carry handle-equipped Steam Deck case, whereas this is a much sleeker-looking shell. I wonder if the bulkier model is the “exclusive” case that comes with the top-spec, £569 / $649 Steam Deck, and the dev kit case will match the standard case that’s bundled with the two cheaper models?
I’d personally prefer a more compact carrying vessel, though I’m not sure about that high-contrast Valve logo. Valve is a retailer as much as a developer/manufacturer, so walking around with that might feel a bit like wearing a T-shirt with “TESCO” emblazoned across the chest. Or it could just be a design for the dev kits specifically, and I’ve just insulted Tesco for nothing. We’ll see.
Whichever way the Steam Deck and its accessories end up, don’t necessarily expect to get your own hands on it straight away in December. Despite Valve maintaining this is the launch…month, the “expected order availability” for all three Steam Deck models is currently listed as “after Q2 2022”. On the bright side, that could be plenty of time for the roster of playable PC games to swell up. Valve’s end goal is to make every game on Steam compatible with their handheld, though James B. Ramey – president of CodeWeavers, who helped Valve develop the Proton software that the Steam Deck relies on – has said this probably won’t be the case at launch.