Valve says its experience with Steam Machines helped develop the Steam Deck

midian182

Posts: 7,064   +62
Staff member
What just happened? Valve's announcement of the Steam Deck was met with raised eyebrows by some consumers, noting that one of its previous major hardware endeavors, the Steam Machine, was far from successful. The company says, however, that the lessons learned from those console-like devices led to the creation of its upcoming handheld.

In addition to the Steam Machine, Valve's other hardware products include the Steam Controller, which one member of our team spent hundreds of dollars on; the Steam Link, a very handy piece of kit that was ultimately replaced by an app; and the excellent Valve Index, considered the best VR headset around—and with a price to match.

The Linux-based Steam Machines were the Valve product closest to the Steam Deck. It called these mini-computers "a powerful new category of living room hardware," but a slew of problems saw them fade into obscurity and consigned to the history books. You can read more about them here.

While the Steam Machines were a failure, Valve designers Greg Coomer, Lawrence Yang, and Scott Dalton told IGN that the company learned from that experiment and its other hardware products, applying the knowledge to the Steam Deck.

"Steam Deck feels like the culmination of a lot of that earlier work," Coomer said. "Steam Link has proven really valuable in establishing what it means to stream games from PCs. The Steam Controller was really valuable, it taught us a lot about what's necessary and valuable to a customer. So all those earlier products really feel like they've informed this one."

As for the Steam Machine, Coomer gives his take on what went wrong. "Steam Machine was a really good idea," he said. "The operating system wasn't quite there. The number of games that you could play on the system wasn't quite there." He adds that "I don't think we would have made as much progress on Steam Deck if we hadn't had that experience."

Dalton says one of the biggest issues was the "chicken and egg problem;" Valve wanted devs to make more Linux games, thereby increasing the Steam Machine's appeal, but doing so wasn't worthwhile for developers unless enough people owned one.

"That led us down this path of Proton where now there's all these games that actually run." Proton is Valve's compatibility layer that lets Windows games run on Linux. "It was really important for us to be able to talk directly to developers and say 'hey look, the Steam Deck runs your game. You don't have to port,'" said Yang.

While the Steam Deck's availability is becoming muddied, we've heard it will target 800p, 30Hz gameplay and have a user-replaceable SSD—it can also play games off an SD card just fine. Elsewhere, its UI is replacing Steam's Big Picture mode.

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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 5,214   +5,910
Everyone is lined up to get one apparently. I think it will do way better with emulations of classic games than it does with modern PC games. I'm hoping to someday see a shootout between the STEAM deck and the Alienware UFO.
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,717   +1,322
Hate to say it but the steam deck is going to fail hard. I hope I’m wrong but the thing is enormous! 1.9 inches thick!? It weighs 669 grams, more than 150% the weight of an iPad. You won’t be taking this on a daily commute unless you’re taking nothing else.

Also looking at the specs it’s going to play PC games at 720p 30fps. The switch runs games like this and all of them have modifications to make it easier to play on the smaller screen. But the steam deck won’t get that level of support, we are in for big blurry HUDs, with silly draw distances for 720p that will tank performance.

Oh and they quote 2-8 hours of battery life from its frankly enormous battery. But we all know that when they say 2-8 they mean 2 if the machine is being fully utilised (3D gaming). And 2 hours is a joke.

I’d love an open, handheld PC gaming solution but this is more of a chunky laptop with handles and some awkward looking controls. Hard pass, il stick to my switch lite which weighs less than 1/3 of this thing and easily slips into a bag and doesn’t take up most of the room in it.

If anyone is planning to buy this, please tell me why? Which games are you planning to play and are you genuinely going to use it on the go? Or just on your sofa? In which case I’d argue an iPad with in home streaming and a controller is a far better (and lighter) solution.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 928   +1,710
Not sure they took in the right lessons though: yes Steam OS didn't have robust enough Linux support but a significant amount of effort was invested by Valve in their stupid controller instead. They've got really obsessed about reinventing the controller when most of the steam game library would work good enough with just dual joysticks and most of the rest of the library that's a poor experience with such controller like RTS and other strategy games, aren't really that much better off with a touch pad no matter how good you make said touch pad.

The other important lesson was in not being both inexperienced and stubborn like that AND having hardware partners to do most of the heavy lifting for the new hardware and since they are taking on that directly themselves so this part is at least better if they decide they need delays for example.
 

ikesmasher

Posts: 3,122   +1,532
Hate to say it but the steam deck is going to fail hard. I hope I’m wrong but the thing is enormous! 1.9 inches thick!? It weighs 669 grams, more than 150% the weight of an iPad. You won’t be taking this on a daily commute unless you’re taking nothing else.

Also looking at the specs it’s going to play PC games at 720p 30fps. The switch runs games like this and all of them have modifications to make it easier to play on the smaller screen. But the steam deck won’t get that level of support, we are in for big blurry HUDs, with silly draw distances for 720p that will tank performance.

Oh and they quote 2-8 hours of battery life from its frankly enormous battery. But we all know that when they say 2-8 they mean 2 if the machine is being fully utilised (3D gaming). And 2 hours is a joke.

I’d love an open, handheld PC gaming solution but this is more of a chunky laptop with handles and some awkward looking controls. Hard pass, il stick to my switch lite which weighs less than 1/3 of this thing and easily slips into a bag and doesn’t take up most of the room in it.

If anyone is planning to buy this, please tell me why? Which games are you planning to play and are you genuinely going to use it on the go? Or just on your sofa? In which case I’d argue an iPad with in home streaming and a controller is a far better (and lighter) solution.
I think the vast majority of the target audience do not have near the same concerns with weight or size. I've never even heard of people having issues with the regular switch's size; these aren't meant to be gameboy replacements. Once you put a nice grip case on a switch or a reasonably durable case on an ipad they are close to the same weight (which is not exactly heavy or all that big).

I don't mean to come off as a fanboy as I have no doubt this thing will have flaws, but what it does for me is all the things nintendo refuses (For no good reason) to do on the switch. Party chat, enough performance to actually sustain a playable FPS, huge compatibility with older titles, mod support (pretty sure nintendo puts about 90% of their resources to PREVENTING this), and much better support for non-gaming uses. I'm not even the PC elitest type of person either (perfectly fine with 30 FPS), but lacking so much basic stuff (party chat, 30 fps sustained) on a mainstream console in 2021 is obnoxious.

using a tablet/phone and a separate controller is even heavier than this thing and is far less ergonomic and far less reliable. I'll probably be one of the people who ends up installing Windows on this though. I use various linux distros daily for work and I do not want to have to so much as look at the terminal icon in my free time.
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,717   +1,322
I think the vast majority of the target audience do not have near the same concerns with weight or size. I've never even heard of people having issues with the regular switch's size; these aren't meant to be gameboy replacements. Once you put a nice grip case on a switch or a reasonably durable case on an ipad they are close to the same weight (which is not exactly heavy or all that big).

I don't mean to come off as a fanboy as I have no doubt this thing will have flaws, but what it does for me is all the things nintendo refuses (For no good reason) to do on the switch. Party chat, enough performance to actually sustain a playable FPS, huge compatibility with older titles, mod support (pretty sure nintendo puts about 90% of their resources to PREVENTING this), and much better support for non-gaming uses. I'm not even the PC elitest type of person either (perfectly fine with 30 FPS), but lacking so much basic stuff (party chat, 30 fps sustained) on a mainstream console in 2021 is obnoxious.

using a tablet/phone and a separate controller is even heavier than this thing and is far less ergonomic and far less reliable. I'll probably be one of the people who ends up installing Windows on this though. I use various linux distros daily for work and I do not want to have to so much as look at the terminal icon in my free time.
Woah going to have to call you out here. I have a big phone, an iPhone 11 Pro Max and it weighs 226 grams, less than 1/3rd of the weight of a steam deck. No way is a phone and a controller heavier than the steam deck at 669grams. Unless the controller you have weighs half a kilo. For reference the Xbox controller is 287g. So an Xbox controller and the largest iPhone is still 156 grams lighter than the steam deck yet the mobile phone solution will last far longer on its battery.

I agree with the rest of your points. The switch has a lot of drawbacks but it is bespoke for mobile gaming. It’s not trying to run software designed for bigger screens with higher resolutions. But the switch lite is dirt cheap, you can get them for less than $200. But most importantly I can fit it in the little top section of my rucksack, it’s so small I end up taking it to quite a lot of places. It also has a stronger battery life. A steam deck on the other hand would require it’s own bag. It has the footprint of a tablet, the weight of two tablets and it’s thicker than the thickest of gaming laptops.
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,186   +2,199
Woah going to have to call you out here. I have a big phone, an iPhone 11 Pro Max and it weighs 226 grams, less than 1/3rd of the weight of a steam deck. No way is a phone and a controller heavier than the steam deck at 669grams. Unless the controller you have weighs half a kilo. For reference the Xbox controller is 287g. So an Xbox controller and the largest iPhone is still 156 grams lighter than the steam deck yet the mobile phone solution will last far longer on its battery.
This might come across as a little rude but, how weak are you :D
This thing weighs as much as a second generation iPad and I don't remember seeing people complain about the weight of that thing back in the day.
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,186   +2,199
I don’t believe for a minute than you are dumb enough to actually think that the weight of a mobile device is irrelevant as long as you are strong enough to lift it.
I mean, just watch the IGN video's of it, The engineers behind this aren't exactly weight lifting legends.

Also, are you insinuating the vast majority of people can't lift 669 grams for any reasonable amount of time?

2nd Gen iPad was just over 600 grams and I don't remember reading articles of weight issues or people breaking their wrists holding the thing.
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,717   +1,322
I mean, just watch the IGN video's of it, The engineers behind this aren't exactly weight lifting legends.

Also, are you insinuating the vast majority of people can't lift 669 grams for any reasonable amount of time?

2nd Gen iPad was just over 600 grams and I don't remember reading articles of weight issues or people breaking their wrists holding the thing.
it’s not about strength pal, it’s about comfort. You’ve clearly never used a handheld gaming device before if you think it’s weight doesn’t matter…

When did you last hold a 600g iPad up in your hands for 2 hours straight just out of curiosity? What were you doing with it? Why couldn’t you prop it up like most people?

Tbis feels to me more like you are just fanboying for this thing. 669g is heavier than any handheld gaming system I can think of. A regular switch is 397g and a current iPad Pro 11 is 460g. Both are significantly lighter. You may not think this is an is an issue but I can assure you it will be for many others.
 

ikesmasher

Posts: 3,122   +1,532
it’s not about strength pal, it’s about comfort. You’ve clearly never used a handheld gaming device before if you think it’s weight doesn’t matter…

When did you last hold a 600g iPad up in your hands for 2 hours straight just out of curiosity? What were you doing with it? Why couldn’t you prop it up like most people?

Tbis feels to me more like you are just fanboying for this thing. 669g is heavier than any handheld gaming system I can think of. A regular switch is 397g and a current iPad Pro 11 is 460g. Both are significantly lighter. You may not think this is an is an issue but I can assure you it will be for many others.
yea I'm not trying to be a jerk here either - ergonomics is far more important than weight for extended usage and the deck has far more of that built in than any nintendo product. It is heavier - but, I am using my 2021 ipad pro 11" with:
spigen rugged case
matte screen protector
apple pencil attached

for extended periods of time (up to a few hours). I just weighed it in at 798 grams, much more than the steam deck. Ive used it for gaming, watching movies, watching TV, browisng the web, etc.
 

Burty117

Posts: 4,186   +2,199
it’s not about strength pal, it’s about comfort. You’ve clearly never used a handheld gaming device before if you think it’s weight doesn’t matter…

When did you last hold a 600g iPad up in your hands for 2 hours straight just out of curiosity? What were you doing with it? Why couldn’t you prop it up like most people?

Tbis feels to me more like you are just fanboying for this thing. 669g is heavier than any handheld gaming system I can think of. A regular switch is 397g and a current iPad Pro 11 is 460g. Both are significantly lighter. You may not think this is an is an issue but I can assure you it will be for many others.
My bad, I guess this unreleased product is going to be extremely uncomfortable then, purely based on just it's weight. Doomed to failure because "Shadowboxer" on the internet has already decided, it's WAY too heavy and couldn't possibly be comfortable to hold for more than 5 minutes.

I'll cancel by reservation now, apologies Shadowboxer, oh glorious master of all things heavy and comfortable.
 

Bawlsdeep

Posts: 141   +153
Make a Pro version with 1080p OLED HDR and 90+ Hz with VRR.

Simply not buying 800p LCD SDR 60 Hz in 2021/2022

Also, 64GB model is pretty much DoA .. Memory card will suck like crazy in terms of loading times and I bet there will be tons of stutter if you actually run non-indie games from this, read/write speed is too wobbly

Atleast 256 + 512 uses NVME aka proper SSD
 
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Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,717   +1,322
My bad, I guess this unreleased product is going to be extremely uncomfortable then, purely based on just it's weight. Doomed to failure because "Shadowboxer" on the internet has already decided, it's WAY too heavy and couldn't possibly be comfortable to hold for more than 5 minutes.

I'll cancel by reservation now, apologies Shadowboxer, oh glorious master of all things heavy and comfortable.
No need to be facetious mate. I get it, you’re upset that I criticised the devices weight. But it is a very heavy mobile device and that is a fair criticism whether you like it or not.

Try not to be so childish..
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,717   +1,322
My bad, I guess this unreleased product is going to be extremely uncomfortable then, purely based on just it's weight. Doomed to failure because "Shadowboxer" on the internet has already decided, it's WAY too heavy and couldn't possibly be comfortable to hold for more than 5 minutes.

I'll cancel by reservation now, apologies Shadowboxer, oh glorious master of all things heavy and comfortable.
I’m going to leave a link here, it’s a tech journalist criticising the size and weight of the steam deck. This comes with a trigger warning, you appear to struggle with criticism of the steam deck and you seem to be responding in an emotional fashion. So only read this if you are mentally prepared to read more criticism about this product you have apparently developed an emotional attachment to.

https://www.fanbyte.com/news/valve-steam-deck-price-storage-worth-it-huge/
 

Bawlsdeep

Posts: 141   +153
So more people have managed to get their hands on the Steam Deck and so far, Weight hasn't been a concern.

I tried Steam Deck early and it's AWESOME!

More people, as in the most popular reviewers in the world?

Most people that pre-ordered got a late 2022 date

So how many did they really make so far? I think less than 100. Where is the chip made? TSMC? Then people will be waiting for a loooong time.

Thats good news tho, because then they have time to replace that crappy LCD screen with an OLED one. What is the point in playing games on the go if screen is terrible? Even low-end phones uses OLED by now and will have WAY BETTER image quality than Steam Deck.

Going with a 800p 60 Hz LCD panel was a huge mistake.

They should stop selling the 64GB model (because it's DoA) and replace the screen with 1080p OLED 90 Hz VRR on both 256 and 512 model and raise price by 50 dollars on both. Maybe offer an 1TB version while they are at it.

64GB is absolutely useless in 2021, unless you only play indie games, which can you on several handheld devices already. Adding storage with a memory card is so slow that loading times will be hell and you might as well just get the 256+ model to begin with.
 
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Burty117

Posts: 4,186   +2,199
More people, as in the most popular reviewers in the world?

Most people that pre-ordered got a late 2022 date

So how many did they really make so far? I think less than 100. Where is the chip made? TSMC? Then people will be waiting for a loooong time.

Thats good news tho, because then they have time to replace that crappy LCD screen with an OLED one. What is the point in playing games on the go if screen is terrible? Even low-end phones uses OLED by now and will have WAY BETTER image quality than Steam Deck.

Going with a 800p 60 Hz LCD panel was a huge mistake.

They should stop selling the 64GB model (because it's DoA) and replace the screen with 1080p OLED 90 Hz VRR on both 256 and 512 model and raise price by 50 dollars on both. Maybe offer an 1TB version while they are at it.

64GB is absolutely useless in 2021, unless you only play indie games, which can you on several handheld devices already. Adding storage with a memory card is so slow that loading times will be hell and you might as well just get the 256+ model to begin with.
Again, don't care, I literally don't care about the Steam Deck, I only took issue with ShadowBoxer writing it off as already failed purely based on its weight and nothing to back up the claim.

Just good to see people picking it up and not only NOT complaining about the weight but actively saying it's more comfortable than the switch.