Valve has not had much luck making hardware. The steam controller was unable to revolutionize the driver scene despite its innovative design, the Steam Link worked well, but it was muscular for a less impressive application and cheeky steam engines were planted directly at the door exit . The index is an impressive unit, but it has not led to a significant increase in the adoption of virtual reality since its launch.
We said earlier this month that steam engines could be seen as a cautionary tale for early proponents of Steam Deck, Valve’s next portable handheld device. But in an interview with IGNValve designers Greg Coomer, Lawrence Yang, and Scott Dalton took a different perspective, saying the lessons learned from these previous units were critical to making the Steam Deck possible.
"Steam Deck feels like the culmination of many of these previous works," Coomer said. "Steam Link has proven to be really valuable in establishing what it means to stream games from PC. The Steam Controller was really valuable, it taught us a lot about what is needed and valuable to to a customer. So all of these previous products really feel like they've been reported. "
Dalton, one of the biggest obstacles facing Steam machines, was the "egg and hen problem" of games: Valve was trying to introduce games to Linux (Steam machines were Linux-based) , but developers were reluctant to bring their games to the operating system without a critical mass of users, while gamers were not inclined to make the switch because there were not enough games. This is what led Valve to create Proton, a compatibility layer that allows Windows-based games to run on Linux. It works great and means that depending on the ports is no longer a problem.
Actually, this is not great news for the skinny Linux who want ports, as we saw earlier this week when a port of A Total War Saga: Troy was planned. dropped because there is no real call anymore. But it’s an important part of Valve’s plan to achieve overall Steam Deck success.
“It was very important for us to be able to talk directly to the developers and say, hey, the Steam Deck runs your game,” Yang said. "You don't have to bring it."
“Steam Machines was a good idea,” Coomer said. "The operating system was not there, the number of games that could be played on the system was not there. Really, we analyzed a lot of things we learned as frameworks that we needed to see if we would ever talk to customers about this category again. "We really didn't want to bring this device to customers until we thought it was ready and all these boxes were basically checked. But definitely, in doing so, I don't think we would have advanced as much on Steam Deck if we hadn't had that experience."
A good game library seems like a pretty important feature for a gaming device, and Valve says that so far Steam Deck has managed all the games that are released there, including games released this year. It remains to be seen if this translates into a success when the steam engines failed, and a possible hurdle could be the supply problem: Steam Deck reservations they are currently only available in the US, UK, EU and Canada, although 64GB and 512GB drives are not expected to be available until some time "after the second quarter of 2022", from a year.