Update: The next Valve Steam Deck is ‘years’ from release — that’s a dilemma for me.
If you were one of the first people to get your Steam Deck pre-orders in, then you may well have one of the first units in your hands right now. The device launched yesterday and early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive.
Given the long wait times for the hardware — if you order one today, you’ll be looking at delivery “after Q2 2022” — then you may well think you’re better off waiting for the next generation. And now we have an idea of what Valve is thinking about the Steam Deck 2 courtesy of Valve co-founder Gabe Newell.
Interviewed in the latest issue of Edge Magazine, and spotted by our sister site GamesRadar, it’s good news for those who want significantly more power in their pocket PC. It surprised Valve that the top-end $649.99 model with 512GB of NVMe memory and an anti-glare etched glass screen has so far proved to be the most popular option, and it gives the company the hard numbers it needs to be more ambitious on future iterations.
"They're basically saying, 'We would like an even more expensive version of this,' in terms of horsepower capabilities or whatever,” Newell told Edge. “You know, that's why we always love to get something out there and ship it. Because we learn a lot from that, and it helps frame our thinking for [Steam] Deck 2."
So what would that actually look like? Obviously Steam Deck 2 is suitably far away given the original literally launched yesterday, but we did get a few hints. “The first step is to let you play the great games that exist today,” Newell continued. “The second iterations are going to be more about: what are the capabilities that mobile gives us, above and beyond what you would get in a traditional desktop or laptop gaming environment?
Much of that inspiration will come from what experiences third-party companies bring to Steam Deck, but one possibility already on the table is VR support. VR isn’t officially supported by Steam Deck, but it could be something the company gives more thought to in future generations.
“One of the things [Steam Deck] represents is battery-capable, high-performance horsepower that eventually you could use in VR applications as well,” Newell says. “You can take the PC and build something that is much more transportable. We're not really there yet, but this is a stepping stone.”
That would potentially be a significant step forward for PC-based VR experiences because it sidesteps the limitations in place now. If you want to play the best VR games today, you have two choices: either you wire a VR headset to a gaming PC for the best performance, or you stream wirelessly to an Oculus Quest 2. Both have their drawbacks — potential lag for the wireless solution and awkward maneuverability for the wired one — but a VR-friendly Steam Deck 2 could theoretically offer the best of both worlds.
Again, however, we’re talking about a device that’s a long way away. For now, Steam Deck looks like the best portable gaming option — and doubly so if you miss the Vita and PSP days.