Steam announces Nintendo Switch-like handheld console for PC games

·3-min read
Photo credit: Valve
Photo credit: Valve

Valve has unveiled the Steam Deck, a handheld console for PC games.

The Steam Deck – which features a 7-inch LCD screen – allows players to take their whole Steam library with them on the go, and includes traditional controls as well as two trackpads, gyro controls, a touch screen and four rear buttons.

Valve says the portable device delivers "more than enough performance to run the latest AAA games".

Photo credit: Valve
Photo credit: Valve

Related: Nintendo announces Switch OLED model upgrade following Switch Pro rumours

A December 2021 release is planned, with reservations opening today (July 16), and there are three models available.

The Steam Deck at £349 includes 64GB internal storage. The £459 and £569 models include 256GB and 512GB storage respectively, using NVMe SSDs for slightly improved loading times. All models include a micro SD slot, should you wish to expand your storage further.

There is no difference in power between the three versions of the Steam Deck.

A dock for the Steam Deck, allowing the console to connect to external displays such as a TV, has also been confirmed and will be sold separately.

Photo credit: Valve
Photo credit: Valve

The Steam Deck (which has a battery life of two to eight hours) will undoubtedly draw comparisons with the Nintendo Switch, particularly with Nintendo's recent unveiling of the OLED Switch model, which is out in October and comes with a 7-inch OLED screen.

But there are key differences between the two which play down the idea that the Steam Deck is a direct competitor to Nintendo's incredibly popular console.

The first is obviously the price point. A Switch Lite is £199, while the regular Switch retails for £279. The regular Switch comes with a dock included, but the Steam Dock doesn't – meaning if you want a dock with your Steam Deck, you'll have to pay an additional amount on top of the £349 (for the cheapest model).

While the Steam Dock can play many of the biggest games out now, a huge appeal of the Switch is the range of exclusive Nintendo games.

Photo credit: Valve
Photo credit: Valve

Related: Xbox cloud streaming finally comes to Apple devices and PC

Then there's the Switch's ease of use and accessibility, suited for more casual players.

So if the Steam Deck isn't necessarily competing with the Switch, then who is it for?

For starters, Valve's new console is obviously ideal for Steam users who like the idea of taking their games with them wherever they go. But it might also be appealing for those who have always been interested in playing PC games (including the vast number of indies out there) but have been reluctant to invest in a gaming laptop or PC.

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