The big picture: When it comes to gaming consoles, software is often leveraged to sell the hardware. However, it can be used in reverse too. The upcoming Steam Deck is a prime example of Valve using a new hardware platform to attract more games to its real money maker, the Steam Store.
In a Q1 earnings call on Tuesday, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot suggested that Ubisoft might start releasing titles on Steam again if Valve's Steam Deck handheld gaming console gets "big."
"We're happy to see Steam Deck coming to the industry; it shows that it continues a flow of very innovative new hardware coming to the market," Guillemot replied in response to a question about his thoughts on the new device. "So we will look and see how big it becomes, but if it's big, we will be able to put our games on it."
While Ubisoft does have games listed on Steam, more recent titles, like The Division 2 are hosted in an exclusive partnership with Epic. Ubisoft has had a mild feud with Valve since 2019 over its cut of game revenue. Guillemot maintains that its relationship with Epic is just a better deal for the company.
However, the Steam Deck brings a whole new platform to the market, and if it takes off, Ubisoft would have great incentive to return to Steam. While Valve's gaming box looks to be open to other store fronts, there is little doubt Steam will be the default. Even Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney called it an "amazing move."
Valve's announcement of its handheld gaming device has already attracted plenty of attention. The $400 device isn't even up for pre-orders yet, but scalpers buy up customer interest registrations and list them for outrageous prices on eBay. The listings violate eBay policies and are being removed. However, we've spotted prices as high as $1,500, which gives us an idea of what scalpers will be asking for Steam Deck pre-orders.