The expected availability for a new Steam Deck is becoming increasingly difficult to pinpoint. Valve has gone from detailing a specific three-month period for a new reserve, to a much more nebulous metric. We are beginning to see, in both the United States and the United Kingdom, that the most affordable versions of the Steam Deck now receive a vague "After Q2 2022" list, rather than a clearly defined period of time during which we could expect availability.
However, this new style of listing could easily mean the third quarter of 2022 – or July to September – but it could also mean the fourth quarter, next year, or just a non-comital shoulder shrug.
On a more positive note, however, when the 512 GB premium SKU was included, availability was expected sometime in the third quarter of 2022, which has been extracted to appear now up to three months earlier in the second term.
We think it's likely that the high-end Deck shipped earlier than expected could be the result of Valve shuffling around the number of each version it creates. It’s an important and delicate balance when trying to figure out how many of each model needs to be produced, especially considering the finite manufacturing capability available to them.
Valve may have underestimated the demand for the 512 GB Deck, which has now been potentially corrected with a better balance between basic and high-end units in production.
This is basically Valve shuffling his fight, if you forgive the blatant pun, based on the manufacturing numbers he knows he has to play. From here, however, you may not really know specifically when AMD silicon from a second manufacturing phase can be made available to the end user or how many they will be able to apply to the road.
Remember that we are still in short supply of chips, and the foundry that makes the chips in the heart of the Steam Deck, TSMC, is also in charge of powering all the consoles on the Switch planet bar. Plus lots of Apple chips and all of AMD's own CPUs and GPUs.
As a chip maker, it’s well-subscribed, to say the least, and Valve will have to go online.
Maybe that’s why we’re now getting a more inaccurate, rather nebulous warning, after the second quarter of 2022, as reserve stocks are starting to dry up, even in a mostly theoretical sense.
That’s not to say Valve won’t be able to increase its production figures in the future. After Apple switched to TSMC’s N5 node, AMD ate a piece of this spare manufacturing capability, and that can also be distributed in part to its semi-custom partners. Although I hope both Sony and Microsoft have a bigger call for any additional capabilities.
Valve will also need to balance how many of those $ 5 reserves definitely they translate into actual sales when the site appears in the queue. I'll bet a lot of people get paid to line up, and a certain number may have a second thought when it comes to getting the rest of the money.