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News hardware & software 28 July 2021, 22:16

author: Jacob Blazewicz

Gabe Newell on Steam Deck: „PC's Openness is a Superpower”; Launch May be Delayed

Gabe Newell doesn't see Steam Deck as a closed platform. Valve's CEO sees openness and the associated multi-functionality as a strength of the PC and wants the same for the company's „console”.

The announcement of Steam Deck two weeks ago caused quite a stir in the industry, which was further intensified by the appearance of additional information about this "not-a-console". However, someone had the opportunity to find out about the device a little earlier. I'm talking about IGN which has already checked out Steam Deck and has just published an interview with the CEO of Valve, Gabe Newell, and developer Pierre-Loup Griffais. The conversation was said to have taken place a week before the company's new project was revealed, shortly after "Gaben" returned from New Zealand, where he had been for most of the pandemic.

During the nearly half-hour interview conducted by Ryan McCaffrey, mention was made of potential Steam Deck names, such as Steam Pal (a phrase that has long since been discovered in the Steam files) or... Ugly Baby (as one of the prototypes of the device was christened; no, this was not considered a final option), and Valve's goals. Aside from assurances of wanting to create a de facto new niche in the market, Newell stressed his aversion to "closed ecosystems". Valve's CEO believes that the "openness" and numerous "features" of PCs are their strength; gamers can install whatever they want, from wherever they want, not just from Steam but from other digital distribution platforms as well.

"From our point of view, the openness of the PC ecosystem is a superpower that we all benefit from together. So if you want to install Epic Games Store on it or run Oculus Rift, that's all great. Those are features, right? That's what I want to hear as a gamer."

In addition to this, Valve paid particular attention to three issues. Firstly, Steam Deck was to provide enough performance for "the entire Steam library". This means being able to run any production available on that platform, even if with some concessions, as was discussed in another IGN piece. Secondly, there's the experience of using a "console" which, while portable, is clearly larger and more massive than the most popular mobile gaming platform - the Nintendo Switch. Third and finally, an important issue is the price. Newell stressed that many promising projects have suffered from too high cost of the product, effectively deterring potential buyers.

Unfortunately, to convince ourselves of the advantages of Steam Deck we will have to wait a little longer than announced. At least that's what it seems from the official website of the device, because although the launch date given earlier (December 2021) remained unchanged, the "expected date of opportunity to order" was set at "after the second quarter of 2022". This vague phrase could mean a longer or shorter delay. Hopefully Valve will clarify things soon. Interestingly, the company has apparently accelerated the debut of the Steam Deck version with a 512GB drive - from Q3 to perhaps Q2 2022.

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