Discussion By what metric would you judge the success (or lack thereof) of the Steam Deck?

Durante

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All over the internet, people are discussing (or just shouting about) whether or not the Steam Deck will be a success or a flop.

But I don't actually see much discussion on how you would even define those.

Do you define it based on HW sales numbers, like a console? Everything less than 50 million units is a flop? I guess it would at least be a clear metric, but I am also pretty sure it would flop by that metric. However, I don't think it's applicable. The Deck doesn't need to sell in huge numbers to prove its viability to publishers so that they target it with native ports, or failing that end up with an anemic library (which is why flopping consoles suck for their owners). In fact, in terms of library, you could say it's already almost certainly a success.

But we also can't say that it will automatically be a success / can't flop, that's just a copout.

In my opinion, a useful definition is whether it succeeds in doing what Valve claims they want it to achieve, which is introducing a new form factor for PC gaming. From that perspective, I'd say that if there is substantial (i.e. significantly more than there was before the Deck, i.e. at least a few hundred thousand units a year) demand for handheld PCs (either the Deck, or its successor, or others) 5 years from now then it was a success, otherwise it was not.

What are your thoughts?
 

lashman

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yeah, i pretty much agree ... if it moves the needle with regards to linux support - it'll be a success (at least in volvo's eyes)

don't think they care beyond that ... especially since they don't seem to be taking any losses on the hardware
 

GhostTrick

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Oct 20, 2018
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Critical and commercial success.

If it can sell 5-10 million units and be considered as a good product, I'd consider it as a good success.

This is a kind if device that doesn't need to sell 50 million units to be a success because it's not generation based. Software wokt live and die by Deck's existence. It's more of a mean than an end.

And it also wont be sold in physical retailers so...

But what gets me really curious is if Deck releases in Asia and Japan in particular.

Could it be a decent success and could it change some publishers mind ?
 

Derrick01

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Oct 6, 2018
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I think the ceiling for this 1.0 version is probably around 10m units within 3-5 years, depending on how long they support it before pushing another. And I don't think that ceiling is necessarily because of demand, I think that's all valve will be able to produce. There's no evidence to suggest that their production model is anywhere near as robust as nintendo/sony/ms, so the prospect of them being able to pump out like 1m systems a month (like sony and nintendo are doing now) is very low.

Whether what they will have is good enough or not remains to be seen. It's really hard to gauge how much interest there is in this outside of enthusiast circles, but at first glance it does seem to have gotten the attention of more console oriented people. But even if that high demand is there I'm not sure valve could meet it and it could end up causing a lot of people to lose interest.
 

Joe Spangle

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Apr 17, 2019
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I guess it should shift a few million in the short term for Volvo to consider it a success. They are pretty good at long term plans though so surly its the start of expanding Steam to lots of new people who dont want to build a pc or have a chunky device in the living room. I think we'll see Steam boxes re-appear in the future.

Personally if its comfortable to hold and i get good use out of it it'll just be an added bonus to the Steam platform.
 
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Mor

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Well, I think this is a thread in which I want to drop my opinion, so let's get this thing started.

First of all, What will be considered a success? let's keep in mind that Steam Deck is not competing at the same scale as the rest of the consoles in the market right now as their main competitors would be companies such as GPD or AYA due to the products they produce which are PC with a handheld form factor, however, while this companies can survive selling lower unit quantities, I would imagine Valve has higher expectations and Gabe himself said on an interview with IGN that he expects to sell "millions" of this devices so, we could safely say that are least ambitions are high.

In my modest opinion I would consider 1-3 million units in the span of 2-3 years like a success for the company as they don't really want to eat a piece of the console cake but to open the PC handheld market in the west with bigger characters, so, yeah, I would say 1-3 million units would probably being considered a success.

Let's also consider something important, Deck is right now only available via Steam online purchase but we don't really know if they will partner with retailers around the globe once they expand the territories in which this is being sold (Australia and Japan will absolutely get this treatment with things such as EB Games or Cave) so that would also boost the numbers in ways I could not predict, to be honest, it will all depend on how production goes and if they can handled it properly, I will say it will be kind of chaotic until second half 2022.

Now just by judging what the people around me did I would consider it that it's doing a great job appealing certain type of users, for the most part I think that doing 104k reservations in the first 90 minutes is something great if we keep in mind that this is still a niche product that wants to become mainstream, out of my steam friend list over 30 have reserved one and more people I know will probably jump in once they see benchmarks and user reviews so, I think it's safe to assume that at least it's starting in good shape.

Hopefully it will reach Valve's expectations but for the time being this is as much as I can imagine and talk about, with we had more data from them or even projections but we won't until the product starts shipping to customers.

Exciting machine, that's for sure.
 

Mimosa

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Feb 23, 2021
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If it makes on the go PC gaming accessible and a tad more commonplace then it will have won. I don't think that it needs to sell 10's of millions to do well since the platform itself isn't relegated to a piece of hardware. If it just spreads

While similar products already exist, I think people are a bit more comfortable with buying from a more well established source. The Deck also has a slick interface and tons of proprietary tech that make it very enticing.

It does seem that they have had to push availability back for new preorders. Having to keep up with hardware production looks to be a bottle neck that can stifle the adoption rate.
 

Knurek

OG old coot
Oct 16, 2018
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I'm expecting total sales to be roughly inline with Virtual Boy, with the sales drying out after the initial batch, once people actually get their hands on it and find out Proton isn't as rosy as they'd like it to be.
I feel that gaming on Linux is still, despite all the improvements, not general population ready, and after the state Steam Machines and Steam Controller were launched in, I don't expect Valve to be able to solve all of Deck's teething issues by December.
I'm still getting it day one Q1 2022, will be a nice replacement for my
GPD Win 2. That's enough of a success for me.
 

Digoman

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Dec 21, 2018
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Yeah, I think that if in a few years portable PCs are "part of the conversation" when talking about PC in general, it will have been a success.

Valve doesn't appear to be set up to produce this in any kind of massive numbers, so the intention here appears to really simply expand the audience while still using their strategy of simply exposing users to Steam to "convert" them. If it also drives up Linux adoption, even better.

They produced a model that it appears to be really solid, with very good specs, capable of playing all types of games, at an excellent price, and are also using their brand name all to try to push the portable PC market from niche to at least a "small" one. If they reach that, then they would probably be very happy, even if others are the one pushing it further.

At least in this "hype" stage, it appears to have succeeded. I have seen a lot of interest from all kinds of players. If they can deliver on hardware and software side, things are looking good.

In the end, if in 3 years things like "how will game X run on the Steam Deck (or something equivalent)?" on PC discussions, along with developers also putting features aimed at the mobile market (like UI elements), than I think it will have been success for Valve.
 

NarohDethan

日本語の学生
Apr 6, 2019
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If I can't get one then it's a flop!

Real talk, I guess it depends on the ratio of users with one. I think Valve would be happy if they sell at least 10 million of them.
 

texhnolyze

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Oct 19, 2018
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Yeah, I may consider it a success if it can actually create a whole new market in PC gaming, the hybrid handheld. Which means the upgraded version and/or the next iteration of the device. If other companies are joining in the party that would be great too, more choices for us.

I'll probably never need to build a tower PC again in my life. :coffee-blob:
 

EdwardTivrusky

See You Hyper-Toxic Computer Cowboy
Dec 8, 2018
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Truly it depends on how Valve want to measure it's success.
I'd say if it helps expand the existing handheld PC market, helps to establish Proton/WINE/Linux as a valid platform for gaming and encourages developers to make their games/Anti-Cheat more compatible with Linux then Valve will consider that a success... and so would i.

Remember, their endgame is to have a gaming exosystem compatible but divorced from Windows.

Selling a kerbillion handheld PCs is nice but long-term, expanding the market is nicer.
 

Arulan

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Dec 7, 2018
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To this day a lot of people continue to dismiss every hardware initiative Valve has taken as a failure. And yet, I cannot disagree more.

Steam Link now is just software, and it's better than ever. And adjacent to it, Remote Play is incredible. I'm without a desktop at the moment, but was able to play Streets of Rage 4 with a friend by clicking a link. No account, game, or local hardware required.

The Steam Controller is arguably one of the most innovative and forward steps in controller design in two decades, though it didn't catch on for the mainstream. And Steam Input evolved into one of the best features available on any platform.

Steam Machines was clearly a commercial failure, and didn't result in third-parties building their own SteamOS machines, but the components of it were arguably a big success. Big Picture mode provided enormous value to a lot of users who always wished to play in a more traditional living room setup with a controller. SteamOS, though outdated for a good part of its life, was an important step to making Linux a viable gaming platform. This goal really coming together when they launched Proton.

The Index I believe is a pretty clear success, but you'll still find plenty of people arguing otherwise.

All of these are still supported today.

It's clear Valve isn't a traditional platform-holder, and I have to imagine their measure of success for these products aren't based on units sold, or perhaps even whether they're still sold today.

As for the Steam Deck, I believe units sold will only be a secondary measure to achieve much broader goals. Perhaps the most important being the acceptance of Linux and SteamOS. They need to make a very good impression with it. If people keep SteamOS on their Decks, start to consider whether they need Windows on their desktop, and third-party hardware manufacturers begin to use it, then that would be a huge success in my opinion. Creating a new PC market is the other big one, where they can leverage SteamOS and the features of the platform as a whole to create a very seamless experience. Related to the previous measure, if they can get third-party hardware manufacturers to create their own hardware with SteamOS would be a success here.
 
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Alextended

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If there's a Deck 2 then it was probably successful. Then again, it might serve its purpose even if Valve don't care to make a 2nd because other companies will have moved in to make more such products, who knows. To the actual user it doesn't matter whether it is successful, as long as it suits their needs in specs, form factor, etc., except when it's time to upgrade and there isn't a Deck 2 to go for so they have to look at other companies' products instead, like GPD etc.
 
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Panda Pedinte

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If it can expand the market of handheld PC's and make them more popular I'll consider it a success. While there are already a market with the GPD Windows, Aya Neo and others they aren't exactly mainstream devices. With the announcement of the Steam Deck my perception was that more people are interested in that device than the ones mentioned previously so it may end being more popular.
 

dude

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I think for Valve, a true success would be to create this as a viable category in the PC gaming space, where others create similar hardware. I think they want to turn handheld gaming-focused PC into more on a mainstream product. This has the potential to transform the Steam market, and make it way larger.
In terms of sales for the model, I think the scale of sales they would consider a success for this product is by orders of magnitude smaller than what the traditional console manufacturers consider a success.
I think Valve doesn't, right now at least, think they can rival the Switch in sales, but they would want to have the entire category rival the Switch/consoles in sales.
 

NeilH

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Jul 16, 2021
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There are many ways to define the device a success. We could looks at financial success first, will Valve be able to sell enough hardware to make it profitable ? Is Valve even expecting it to be profitable ? Can they expand their market and bring in new customers bringing profitability up ? We could also look at succes on a technical scale. Will the harware be free of design errors like stick drift or overheating problems ? Is the hardware durable and comfortable ergonomically to use over prolonged periods of time ? Then there's measuring succes by the impact the device has on the market. Can it become market leader and influence the way the market evolves going forward. Will their vision be accepted by the general public and bring other manufacturers to produce their own hardware with Steam OS as the Trojan horse? And I could go on and on about the many ways we could meassure it's succes.

To me personally, it's already a succes. I've been messing about in my home trying multiple devices looking for a decent way to play most games I own portably and at home on multiple screens without having cables running between floors and through walls. Had multiple Tablets with controllers, handheld devices and streaming boxes, but none of them did what I wanted them to do well . I was literally contemplating an oneXplayer not too long ago. The Valve came in and offered theirs for half the price. Now all I want is for them to produce new models every 3 or 4 years :love:
 

Alexandros

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As this is a PC gaming device that has most of the essentials to break into the mainstream, I would consider it a success if it actually does. I'm guessing that Valve would be happy with sales in the low millions but for me this is a landmark moment in PC gaming and I'm hoping it will serve as an introduction to the platform for mainstream gamers.
 

Self_Destructive

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Jul 19, 2021
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Basically my thoughts are that I will consider it a success simply by it bringing more attention to the PC ecosystem. If they can build a sustainable market with the device, and gather the support from more developers to take these devices into consideration.. then it will be successful by improving the PC ecosystem in meaningful ways. By being a dedicated gaming device using the SteamOS by default.. (as well as becoming cheaper in the future) hopefully it can remove the barriers to entry that some people have with regards to getting into PC gaming by having to set up and download clients and whatever else.

I've had many thoughts about Valve and Steam over the years, and I always wished they took a more proactive approach to funding PC exclusive games for their platform. Such as funding developers to create new games and not just buying exclusive rights to games already in development. I feel like they could easily fund some AAA games which show off the PC platform and what it's capable of... and it always puzzled me that they didn't seem to want to do that. I'm hoping that with dedicated device out there, we see Valve put some effort behind funding developers to bring games to Steam (which will work on all devices obviously) I know they wouldn't potentially be AAA titles, but high quality Steam exclusive games would go a long way into bringing people over from other markets.

Nintendo took multiple devices and consolidated them into a single device which serves two markets (console and handheld).. and they found great success. Obviously the Steam Deck isn't meant to be a mass market device at this time and is simply extending a push out into the handheld PC market, which has gathered interest over the past few years, and has people intrigued.. and they believe that people are waiting for the right device to come and that they are capable of bringing that device to those consumers. With Steam Deck, we have a device which can essentially serve 3 markets. Portable, Console, and Desktop markets. It's extremely versatile, and it doesn't need to sell millions upon millions to be considered a success for Valve.

Valve is a data gathering company. They extend themselves in any way which allows them to gather more data on the way consumers shop for games, play with games, and which devices they like to spend their time on, and Steam Deck serves to further their ability to gather information about those markets. By that metric it will be a success.
 

Zexen

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As this is a PC gaming device that has most of the essentials to break into the mainstream, I would consider it a success if it actually does. I'm guessing that Valve would be happy with sales in the low millions but for me this is a landmark moment in PC gaming and I'm hoping it will serve as an introduction to the platform for mainstream gamers.
That's mostly how I see it too, it serves as a great tool to welcome new users on the PC platform, and if it is able to do so, then I would consider the machine a geat success.
 

Self_Destructive

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they have, though ... they funded quite a few VR games (and steam or even PC exclusivity wasn't a requirement) ... they just don't brag about it :p
Yea, that's true. But I guess I want more from them. I'd like to see some AAA stuff. I feel like they could have even bought some of these studios like Remedy or others, and built more development studios at Valve putting out more kinds of games for their platform. But they essentially regressed.

We'll have to see. It can take Valve quite a long time to get stuff done sometimes lol.
 
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lashman

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Yea, that's true. But I guess I want more from them. I'd like to see some AAA stuff. I feel like they could have even bought some of these studios like Remedy or others, and built more development studios at Valve putting out more kinds of games for their platform. But they essentially regressed.
nah, don't buy studios ... just fund games (and don't make them exclusive ... to PC, or even to steam) ... that would be the best possible thing for them to do

We'll have to see. It can take Valve quite a long time to get stuff done sometimes lol.
 
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yuraya

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Since this is a true through n through stand alone gaming device and valve's first attempt you kind of have to judge in unit sales. They've never made anything like this before. Everything in the past was basically a peripheral or an accessory that required separate PCs to work. And steam machines were a collab. The Deck is their first whole gaming device.

I think 5-10million would be huge success after 4 or so years. The thing is we will never know because Valve is private and we never get sales figures. No one even officially knows how much the HTC Vive or Index sold to this day. I doubt we will ever know how much Deck sold unless something leaks in court documents or Gabe speaks about it in some interview.

Also unlike handhelds of the past the Deck isn't constrained by generations. Valve can really do wtvr they want since Proton/SteamOS is what makes the device work. They can release a Deck 2 next year with an intel chip in it and more powerful specs. Or a new iteration with better screen/storage. There is nothing stopping them from doing crazy stuff like that because that is how PC gaming works. New hardware always gets released and it doesn't really hurt PC gaming as a whole with options all over the place. There is no developer harm. I wouldn't be surprised if some other big company joins the fray next year. Like Dell, Intel, Nvidia, Microsoft. Maybe we will finally see that one Alienware handheld from couple years ago make it to market. A lot of companies can get a chip from AMD or someone else to pull this off.

The other huge thing about this venture for Valve is the partnership with AMD. The Deck is really powerful and efficient so I wonder how long before Valve can make a standalone VR headset that can play something like Alyx at acceptable frames for hours before needing a charge. That seems to be an evolution of the Index and what is to come from Valve. A beefier Quest 2 basically. It would be mindblowing. Wtvr AMD has cooking next after Van Gogh could really be that. Tho I don't know much about VR internals so who knows.
 
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jim2point0

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In my eyes, a product is a success if the company manufacturing said product sees it as a success. If the launch goes well enough that they are not only encouraged to make more, but support it and think about future models. I'm sure there are other metrics, like how many people it brings to their store to buy more games. Most consoles are really just a vehicle for buying games anyways.

So yeah, if Valve is encouraged/enthusiastic about the launch, then I would say it's a success. And yeah, if this somehow entourages more PC exclusive titles, I would personally call that a win. Because I own a Switch and we love it, but we only play it docked. It's just there fort he Nintendo games. But I have no interest in the Steam Deck.
 
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NeilH

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Personally, if Valve suddenly remembers that the rest of the world exists and decides to sell here I'll consider it a success. But I have zero hopes of this happening. It's clear they don't care about us.
While I truly empathize with your situation and that of many others you do have to keep in mind that Valve is not a hardware company and therefore does not have the distribution groundwork laid out like other console manufacturers. Heck, even the "real" console manufacturers can't even pull off worldwide launches anymore.

Saying they don't care is not looking at the whole picture and nothing more than an emotional response to your dissapointment.
 

hersheyfan

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On an industry level? I don't think Valve would mind if the Steam Deck doesnt do "console level" numbers, as the end objective for them is to just get people to buy more games on Steam. Entirely new Steam users generated by the Deck obviously add to the total MAU, but even existing PC customers will be incentivized to buy more stuff; further, some percentage of the new users this brings in will take the extra step to purchase real PC hardware, because they'll already have an existing library to play.... and when they do, they'll be coming in "soft locked" to Steam. Thats why Valve is so open to other manufacturers making their own versions of the hardware, because it all trickles down to them in the end.

The Steam Deck isn't beholden to the same metrics as an dedicated console, because the store existed (and found mainstream success) long before the hardware.

If a console flops, everybody involved takes a huge financial bath: the first party who built all the infra, the publishers who made content for it, the end users who invested in marginally supported hardware.

If the Steam Deck flops over the long term, the only thing that changes is the advancement of Linux as a gaming platform is set back. Valve keeps raking in money from Steam proper, the 3rd party publishers still get to sell their games to regular PC folks, and the end users get to have what amounts to a cost-controlled GPD Win; plus, unlike other every other "flop" console in the history of the industry, the Steam Deck would continue getting support indefinitely until the hardware is physically unable to run the new releases.
 

Nzyme

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For Steam Deck hardware itself initially, I think simply having it be well received will be an indicator of a succssful start.
Particularly changing the narrative around Valve's own hardware in the audience less Steam focused, as well as having positive sentiment towards SteamOS, Proton, Input and form factor so they become established and normalised form for Steam / PC gaming, will be the real win Valve look for since that barrel rolls into what I think will be Valve's longer term efforts.

If they reach that point, an organic influx of new users that either prefer the form factor or are more comfortable entering the Steam ecosystem with it is something that will inevitably see growth or at least be easy for them to encourage.

More broadly, I think this is another long play for Valve with a lot of facets if those two points are can be sustained.
The gradual growth of Deck will let them persue further efforts on SteamOS, Proton, Input and encourage the form factor longer term. It's the continues the "Steam Universe" effort which hasn't really ended the past decade, giving Valve some security and practically steering SteamOS as a complimentary factor to Windows PC gaming. More reasons for devs to ensure compatibility and an avenue through which Valve can iterate on more innovative ideas that they can't do without ownership of Windows OS, including more hardware.

On top of all this though, you then have so many other things going on with where gaming is going in the future. A handheld form factor certainly may be more condusive towards cloud services and currated subscriptions that may be brought directly into Steam, integrating with the ecosystem features. Having these different form factors to play with might be powerful way to encourage retention too. Definitely see xcloud, Gamepass and more showing up in time (or right out of the gate wink wink

So... rambling aside, Deck establishing itself as a form factor as well as SteamOS, Proton, Steam Input as normalised parts of Steam and PC gaming with influx of new users too, is going to be the marker for success, whether thats something that happens quickly or over a much longer period.
 
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Durante

Durante

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If a console flops, everybody involved takes a huge financial bath: the first party who built all the infra, the publishers who made content for it, the end users who invested in marginally supported hardware.

If the Steam Deck flops over the long term, the only thing that changes is the advancement of Linux as a gaming platform is set back. Valve keeps raking in money from Steam proper, the 3rd party publishers still get to sell their games to regular PC folks, and the end users get to have what amounts to a cost-controlled GPD Win; plus, unlike other every other "flop" console in the history of the industry, the Steam Deck would continue getting support indefinitely until the hardware is physically unable to run the new releases.
Yeah, it's a crucial difference that makes the actual outcome of a "flop" much less impactful, but I still think there's some value in trying to come up with a somewhat objective way to say whether or not it succeeded.
 

Delusi

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Honestly? I suspect Valve would be happy with 5~ million unit sales over the next five years or so. With that said, the clearest indication would be if big manufacturers try to make their own portable PCs, such as that Alienware prototype or even Intel directly (to try to demo their future low power chips).
 
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EdwardTivrusky

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Thinking about it this morning, i'd say it was a flop if the hardware design or implementation was bad so the device was unreliable or had sub-par performance which lead to it damaging the idea of gaming on Linux. A ton of RMA threads would not do Valve, Linux Gaming or existing Handheld PC market any favors.

So far though, It's selling well, the hardware components seem decent, the design is pretty much what you'd expect from a device like that, it's building hype and pushing forward SteamOS/Linux Gaming Tech, Steam is proven and mature tech so i'd say the hardware has to be trash for it to be judged a failure.

In that case Valve will just go back to the drawing board for a few years and try again later.
I believe we have to move away from Windows as the only viable PC Gaming OS so i'm fully behind Valve in that regard.
 

hersheyfan

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Yeah, it's a crucial difference that makes the actual outcome of a "flop" much less impactful, but I still think there's some value in trying to come up with a somewhat objective way to say whether or not it succeeded.
Of course, I agree 100%! My post wasn't in any way intended to downplay what you said - rather, I was just pointing out that comparing the sell through of a device like the Steam Deck to, say, a portable by any of the first parties (like many pundits and message board posters are likely to do in the future) is a fool's errand, as it's not an apples-to-apples comparison. Hardware sales numbers that would be disappointing or even disastrous for a company like Nintendo would likely make Valve very happy, because the context of the device is very different.

As others have mentioned, maybe the best metric for success is whether Valve manages to stick the landing in terms of making the SteamOS user experience as seamless as possible... not just for the console-only guys buying in to this thing as a handheld gateway into the PC gaming market, but also for the existing, large Steam userbase that exclusively games on Windows.

I've personally never gamed on Linux before in my life, but am completely open to using SteamOS exclusively on the Deck if everything "just works". Play a game on SteamOS via Proton, save uploads to the cloud, start playing on my Windows 10 rig as soon as I get home. If they manage to deliver a solid console-like experience using a Linux derivative, and people overall have a good time using the device, then that's already a win in my book. But if the initial experience turns out to be fiddly as hell, a lot of potential new customers are going to get a poor first impression of what PC gaming is really like (or, for pre-existing Windows customers who buy a Steam Deck, what Linux gaming can be).
 

RionaaM

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While I truly empathize with your situation and that of many others you do have to keep in mind that Valve is not a hardware company and therefore does not have the distribution groundwork laid out like other console manufacturers. Heck, even the "real" console manufacturers can't even pull off worldwide launches anymore.

Saying they don't care is not looking at the whole picture and nothing more than an emotional response to your dissapointment.
Lots of companies make deals to sell their products worldwide. Heck, a few months ago I bought a game through Limited Run after they said they shipped here. I know electronics are a different thing, but the fact is it can be done. They can partner up with a distributor, or expand and do it themselves. But no, they choose not to do business here. They don't even let me buy their hardware and ship it to a supported country. So yeah, looking at the whole picture I feel comfortable saying they don't care. Otherwise they would have put plans in motion to fix it, which they haven't.
 
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