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Steam Deck pre-orders are already a mess

Steam Deck being played
(Image credit: Valve)

Steam Deck pre-orders kicked off last week, and have already resulted in website crashes, order delays, and scalpers trying to ruin yet another product launch for everyone.

Last week Valve announced the Steam Deck, a portable gaming PC that can run your entire Steam library of games, and began taking reservations on Friday morning. Within a moment of the reservation system going live, many eager customers received an error message as thousands flocked to the website to try and get a pre-order. 

Valve is doing pre-orders a little bit differently with the Steam Deck. Right now customers are actually only able to reserve a system by placing a $5 deposit. Closer to the device's release date, which is currently an unspecified date in December, customers will be invited to complete their purchase in the order in which reservations were originally made. It’s a slightly finicky system but it’s been designed primarily to deter scalpers. 

Unfortunately, scalpers aren’t so easily dissuade and resale sites like eBay have already been flooded with listings for the Steam Deck. The console’s MSRP starts from $399 for a model with 64GB of eMMC storage and tops out at $649 for the 521GB SSD version, but resellers are attempting to flog pre-orders for as much as $1,500.

Steam Deck eBay listings

(Image credit: eBay)

Buying an in-demand console through a reseller is a questionable decision at the best of times but considering the unique Steam Deck reservation system it’s baffling in this case. 

No scalper as of yet has a confirmed pre-order. Like every legitimate customer, they have only put down a $5 deposit. Some listings on resale sites feature scalpers making completely unsubstantiated claims such as “will arrive in time for the holidays,” which they can’t possibly guarantee yet. 

In fact, getting hold of a Steam Deck before 2022 looks like it will be a very tall order. While the first wave of reservations offered the chance to purchase a machine in Q4 2021, the Steam Deck reservation page now lists expected order availability as Q2 2022 for the 64GB and 256GB models. Whereas the top-tier 512GB isn't currently set to be available for new orders until Q3 2022.

Steam Deck pre-orders

(Image credit: Valve)

Demand for this portable gaming PC is clearly outstripping supply. The ongoing global semiconductor supply crisis and the greater interest in at-home entertainment will likely both be a factor. 

Anyone who was fortunate enough to get a first wave reservation should expect to be sent an order invitation in December. But anyone who missed the initial window getting hold of a Steam Deck before 2022 will likely require paying an extortionate fee to a scalper. The Steam Deck looks set to join the PS5 and Xbox Series X as tech products that everyone wants but very few actually manage to purchase.

While getting your hands on a Steam Deck might be tricky, that might not be a bad thing. Considering Valve’s spotty hardware record it might be worth adopting a wait-and-see approach before committing to purchase. Though there are already early signs that it could be an impressive bit of kit, plus Valve has promised the system won’t suffer from stick-drift which is a huge relief.  

Rory is a staff writer at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics including tech news, deals, gaming, streaming and more. When he’s not writing hot takes on the latest gaming hardware and streaming shows, he can be found watching a borderline unhealthy amount of movies and being thoroughly disappointed by his terrible football team.