Steam Deck 2 is years away — and that’s absolutely fine by me

Steam Deck handheld playing games
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Valve has made it pretty clear that a Steam Deck 2 will happen at some point, but anybody expecting one imminently will be severely disappointed, the company has confirmed.

Pierre-Loup Griffais is the latest Valve developer to manage expectations of just how quickly a follow-up will be turned around. “Right now we’re kind of looking at this performance target that we have as a stable target for a couple of years,” he told CNBC.

If that’s not overt enough, Griffais made it crystal clear in a separate email to The Verge. “It’s important to us that the Deck offers a fixed performance target for developers, and that the message to customers is simple, where every Deck can play the same games,” he wrote.

“As such, changing the performance level is not something we are taking lightly, and we only want to do so when there is a significant enough increase to be had,” he continued, adding that without hitting power efficiency and battery life, he didn’t envisage “such a leap to be possible in the next couple of years.” 

This will no doubt be disappointing to some people who’ve found the experience on recent releases like Baldur’s Gate 3 and Starfield a bit lacking on Deck, but to me — and I suspect plenty of others — this revelation is absolutely fine. Steam Deck is great just the way it is.

Plenty to play

As I wrote when I belatedly bought my Steam Deck, I wasn’t looking for a handheld to play all the latest triple-A games. I have a desktop and PS5 for that.

Instead, I was looking for something that I could pick up and play for quick sessions here and there. Something to work through my ever-growing Steam backlog and its list of titles that seems to multiply every time a new Humble Bundle is announced.

Opening up Steam for the purposes of this article — and very carefully avoiding the temptation to play a quick game of Spelunky — I can see that I own 153 games verified for Steam Deck. Expanding that to “verified and playable” more than doubles this to 369. How many of those have I played? Probably about 40 at a push.

Since getting my Deck, it’s proved to be a great way of playing the games that I just couldn’t force myself to get around to if it involved sitting alone in my home office. 

But because I can play the Deck on the sofa, in bed, on the subway and when staying with family, I’ve been able to play delights that would have otherwise slipped through the net. I’ve returned to Union City in Beyond a Steel Sky, I've chilled out to Dorfromantik, I’ve got my old-school GTA fix in with Rustler and enjoyed some unsettling fishing in Dredge. I’ve also found myself drawn back to the time sink that is The Binding of Isaac, too.

What I’m saying is that I probably have enough to be getting on here to last me a decade, and there are loads more on the Steam Store that I could buy. I just really shouldn’t until I’ve made bigger inroads into the list of shame. At the time of writing, SteamDB says there are 3,881 verified Steam Deck games, and 7,613 that are playable.

Incremental changes

Also, what Valve very carefully hasn’t ruled out is some kind of hardware refresh. 

While the company has signaled it wants to keep speeds the same (sensibly in my view, as it makes it easier for developers to optimize their games), other quality-of-life improvements could still be possible. Perhaps we could see a version with a larger battery, or an OLED screen? 

That might tempt me — but even then, probably not. The Steam Deck isn’t for everyone — it’s not as accessible as the Nintendo Switch, or as powerful as the Asus ROG Ally — but for me, it’s absolutely perfect. And I’m confident I’ll be just as happy with it as I am now in five years, let alone two when talk of a Deck 2 picks up steam. 

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.