Anyone who ever bought a Steam Controller, Steam Link or still tries to play Team Fortress 2 will know that, historically, long-term support isn’t exactly Valve’s number one priority*.
Nonetheless, it seems that the company isn’t planning on making its Steam Deck handheld gaming system a one-time thing. In an interview with The Verge, Valve’s Lawrence Yang and Pierre-Loup Griffais discussed, among other things, what they would add to a theoretical Steam Deck 2.
Both of them came up with the same weak spots they’d want to address: the screen and the battery life.
They didn’t elaborate on what exactly they meant — though it’s true to say that Steam Deck’s 7in IPS panel looks a bit drab when compared to the OLED screens on flagship phones — but battery life has been a bit of a thorn in Valve’s side.
Indeed, iFixIt criticised the company’s choice to glue down one of the parts that will inevitably need replacing, and Griffais explained why. In short, battery expansion means you can’t just have a battery-shaped hole, and that means it needs to be held in place somehow. In fact, some early prototypes had the battery rattling around and “it doesn’t feel good.”
“You don’t want a Steam Deck maraca, and you don’t want a battery possibly touching other important components and jostling them around,” Griffais added. Though I’m now hoping someone makes a Steam Deck maraca mod.
With a second-generation, you might think Valve would take inspiration from the world of smartphones, where chips get faster and more graphically capable every year. Instead, the pair view Steam Deck’s unified specs as a key selling point.
“Right now the fact that all the Steam Decks can play the same games and that we have one target for users to understand what kind of performance level to expect when you’re playing and for developers to understand what to target… there’s a lot of value in having that one spec,” said Griffais.
“I think we’ll opt to keep the one performance level for a little bit longer, and only look at changing the performance level when there is a significant gain to be had.”
In the past, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell stated that Steam Deck 2 could be a “stepping stone” towards an untethered VR machine. “You can take the PC and build something that is much more transportable,” he said, back in February. “We’re not really there yet, but this is a stepping stone.”
Still, if Valve keeps to its word, we can look forward to more Steam Deck in the coming years.
“In the future, Valve will follow up on this product with improvements and iterations to hardware and software, bringing new versions of Steam Deck to market,” a 50-page document celebrating the release of the handheld in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan revealed.
“Like the original, and like all PCs, these future products will continue to provide access to the same Steam game catalog that gamers already know and love,” it added.
* Valve is an odd company, in that it essentially lets employees work on whatever they want. It must make it a wonderful place to work, but does mean you may be out of luck if your favourite Valve product happens to be boring to work on. Bluntly, it’s fortunate that essential utilities don’t run on this model.