Valve wants Steam Deck to be the starting point for a new handheld PC ecosystem. Talking to IGN Gabe Newell has stated that the relatively low price of the Deck was “painful” but “critical”, but also stated his expectations that it will be the starting point for establishing a product category that will benefit Valve in the long run.
This means that he expects other PC makers to board the Deck and launch their own versions of the handheld PC, probably in the hopes that they will be running the bespoke mobile version of SteamOS Valve that he has created for that.
"Our view is that if we do it right, we will sell them in millions of units," says Newell. "And we will clearly establish a product category in which we and other PC manufacturers could participate. And that will have long-term benefits. So that's the framework we're thinking about this."
These “long-term benefits” could explain one of the Steam Deck’s biggest surprises: its price. When other gaming laptops cost more than $ 1,000; the entry point for the 64GB platform is only $ 399. Of course, you’ll want one of the 256GB or 512GB versions powered by NVMe if you want to play on the go and cost $ 529 and $ 649 respectively, but it’s still an impressive price.
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdIwypcMLdQ (/ embed)
But if Valve is looking at this to establish a product category that other manufacturers are building, having a popular and affordable home device is the way to go.
And I can definitely see what happens. Valve may have a hard time keeping up with demand, after all we are in the midst of a chip supply crisis right now, and there are many AMD APUs that Microsoft and Sony want TSMC to manufacture for their own consoles, but I bet there will be a huge slope in this queue for pre-orders.
This could be all the proof that people like MSI and Asus need to start making their own Decks. Asus has already been integrated into gaming phones, so it doesn’t seem like a big step in doing so. But both companies are likely to see the limitations of the Steam Deck and want more. I can see an MSI or ROG platform selling for over $ 1,000, such as current laptops, and this will reduce the number of potential buyers very quickly.
We’ve already seen that Dell and Alienware have their own ideas about portable games with the UFO prototype, so I can also see that, given a bit of paint, SteamOS installed it and came out the door, again, for a premium price.
It’s debatable whether any other PC maker is willing to bet on the same kind of “painful” price that Valve was willing to keep on the Deck. I would suggest that it is unlikely, and it also seems that this could quickly extinguish enthusiasm for the handheld PC ecosystem.
But this is only based on what happened to the original Steam Valve machine that it tried to launch all those years ago. A pseudo SteamOS-based PC console, then built for the living room, but another category of products that Valve tried to ship to other PC makers.
Things may be different this time around, though, and Valve is certainly trying to prove the value of the Deck, going first alone, before incorporating other system builders into the mix. Hopefully the Deck ends up being more indexed than Steam Machine.