The Steam Deck was released in early 2022 and was so popular that early orders were put on a waiting list while Valve, the makers of the Steam Deck, struggled with supply. Over a year later, models still frequently go out of stock while trying to meet demand. Valve hasn’t released any sales numbers, but the Steam Deck has clearly outsold expectations.
Is The Steam Deck Just Another Gaming Console?
What makes the Steam Deck different from consoles of the past is that it doesn’t exclusively play console games; it plays PC games too.
No longer a hobby for nerds, gaming pulls in millions of views every day on streaming platforms like Twitch. Since home consoles first became popular in the 80s, there has been a divide between console and PC gamers. Those who choose the PC gaming route often play games like World of Warcraft that have never been released on consoles like the Xbox or PlayStation.
The Steam Deck is building a bridge between these two worlds with the first home console that allows players to enjoy both types of games on a single, unified device.
The Steam Deck is a handheld device with a screen in the center and controller inputs on either side. It’s a form familiar to anyone with a Nintendo Switch and perfect for playing on the go. Like the Switch, you can plug the Steam Deck into a TV for traditional home console play.
If you have an introverted type of personality, the Steam Deck and a good pair of headphones will transport you to another world, even in a crowd.
- Processor: AMD Zen 2
- RAM: 16GB
- Storage: 64GB, 256GB, or 512GB versions available. Expandable with MicroSD
- Display: 7″ 1280 x 800px LCD Screen
- Battery: 40Whr battery. 2 – 8 hours of gameplay
- Software: SteamOS 3.0 with KDE Plasma
Anyone familiar with Steam won’t be surprised that the Steam Deck runs SteamOS, Valve’s in-house Linux distribution made specifically for gaming.
Going All-In on Linux Gaming
Valve’s gaming platform, Steam, has been around since 2003, primarily serving users gaming on Windows. But in recent years, Valve has turned its focus to Linux gaming. Linux is an alternative to operating systems like Microsoft Windows and macOS.
It runs on supercomputers and web servers, but the last decade has seen a surge of Linux desktop users opting for free and open-source Linux distributions rather than pay for Microsoft Windows.
As the number of Linux users increased, so did the demand for games running on the platform. Slowly the industry has responded, with Valve in the driver’s seat to empower creators to build games for Linux distributed on Steam.
To help with this demand for Linux games, Valve built Proton, a piece of free software that allows Windows games to run on Linux.
Can The Steam Deck Compete?
With their Steam client and Proton providing all the software needed to bring games into our living rooms, they just needed their own hardware. The Steam Deck was the answer – making Valve’s gaming experience portable and simple enough to plug into your TV.
According to Google Trends data, Steam gets comparable numbers of Google searches compared to traditional home gaming consoles. But they have the most active monthly users of any platform.
- In 2021 Steam racked up over 132 million active users in a single month
- Playstations Network recorded 108 million monthly active users
- As of December 2022, the Xbox Network recorded 120 million monthly active users
- Nintendo is still far behind the competition, with only 36 million active monthly users
Gaming on Linux has come a long way since the days of starting games using commands in the terminal. The Linux community has Valve to thank for much of the progress in recent years.
It’s unlikely that the Steam Deck will outsell the traditional home console makers of the Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and Sony PlayStation. But Steam has positioned itself as a viable fourth option for home gaming and will likely continue to gain traction in the industry.