Fans of hand-held console gaming have something to cheer about. Gaming company Valve’s long-awaited Steam Deck console that supports Windows games is finally launching next month, expanding the options available to buyers in this niche but growing segment.
Valve said the Steam Deck will launch on February 25 with shipments starting three days after it.
Unlike Nintendo Switch, which only supports games that are developed for its proprietary Switch operating system, Steam Deck functions like a PC and supports multiple operating systems. What it means is that users can install multiple operating systems including Windows 11 or Windows 10, in addition to the default Linux-based Steam OS. Valve is offering SSD storage of up to 512GB on the device along with the option to add more with a micro SD card.
Windows support means the Steam Deck owners can play the entire library of Steam games on the hand-held device. Steam is one of the biggest game libraries for PC games and as of 2021 had over 60,000 games listed on it, as per the company. The console has in-built controllers just like Switch for navigation and controlling players and actions in the game.
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According to Valve, Steam Deck can also support PC-based virtual reality (VR) headsets, allowing users to play VR games using it.
The console gaming market is still largely dominated by Sony Playstation and Xbox, which account for 64.5% and 35.48% of the console gaming market in 2021, respectively, as per Statista. Nintendo with 0.02% of the market is the third leading gaming console.
Though hand-held consoles also face competition from gaming smartphones, Android and iOS still do not have many of the top AAA console titles. Some game companies such as EA Sports, Konami and Square Enix have launched trimmed down versions of their console games. That is where Steam Deck has an upper hand over not just Nintendo Switch but also the gaming smartphones.
The fact that Nintendo Switch has sold over 91 million units since its launch in 2017, as per Statista and revenue generated from it has grown by 60% in the last two years shows that there is a growing userbase of hand-held gaming consoles.
In terms of hardware, Steam Deck runs on a custom APU based on AMD’s Zen 2 + RDNA architecture, which has been optimized for handheld gaming but is powerful enough to run AAA gaming titles. Steam Deck will start at $399 for the 64GB variant while the 512GB variant will cost $649.
Initially, the Steam Deck will only be available in select markets including the US, Canada, European Union, and the UK. However, the company said it will add more regions to the list soon.