Steam Deck is on the lips of almost every gamer these days, be they a fan of consoles or gaming PCs. According to Valve, their new handheld console wouldn't have been possible without the idea for Steam Machines.
Steam Machines was Valve's idea of a so-called "console-killer" alternative to full-sized consoles and gaming PCs released in 2015. But just like any other hardware from Valve, these failed miserably, writes PCGamer.
Since then, the company has earned a reputation for making sub-par gaming hardware that doesn't sell until they recently announced the Steam Deck to a roaring reception back in July. Designers Greg Coomer, Scott Dalton, and Lawrence Yang, all three of which worked on the handheld, knew this history very well.
In an interview with IGN, the three designers specifically pointed out their troubles with making games run on a Linux-based machine. Considering that the Steam Deck runs SteamOS 3.0, which is based on Linux, it was one of the biggest challenges they had to overcome. Steam Machines failed because they had to make games run well enough on them despite Linux still not being gaming-friendly at the time.
With the recent report from Tom's Hardware pointing out Linux improvements on the Steam Client ahead of Steam Deck's release, perhaps Valve has indeed learned from its past mistakes.
Steam Deck Is Moving On from the Steam Machines Fiasco
With how differently Valve approaches the Steam Deck's marketing as of the moment, the spectacular failure of Steam Machines and older Valve hardware is now in the rearview mirror, at least for now.
Firstly, the company claims that they want their handheld to occupy a class of its own. They're saying that they designed the console, not as a direct competitor to the Nintendo Switch, for instance. And for all intents and purposes, they're right. The two handhelds are entirely different pieces of hardware, and it's not only a question of how much more powerful the one is compared to the other.
Steam Deck is made to be a fully portable, all-in-one PC. By all intents and purposes, it's no different from a laptop or a desktop. Users can even connect the system to an external display, install Windows on it, connect a mouse and keyboard, and use it as a fully functioning computer.
The Nintendo Switch, on the other hand, is a gaming console through and through. All you can do on it is game and not much else. And it's significantly more portable than the Steam Deck too, which makes it a lot easier to bring around. Plus, Nintendo's library of niche games is a good change of pace from the Steam Library's hordes of open-world titles and first-person shooters.
Demand for the Steam Deck is already high, it's now being scalped. While this sounds bad for a lot of gamers, it's great news for Valve. It means that profit margin potentials are soaring and that they can carve a new path into the gaming hardware industry without competing with anyone else.
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Written by RJ Pierce