News Steam Deck , handheld by Valve - announced for December 2021

Mor

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It has a console form factor but that doesn't mean it is a console, SteamOS is not a custom OS per say as it's just another Linux distro designed specifically designed to play games based on Arch and will be distributed for desktops too in the future, so, then, what does it have in common with PS5 OS or Nintendo Switch OS?

You are right as I used the wrong wording when I said laptos and custom OSs but my point stands when ot comes to calling Deck a PC instead of a console, but that's my opinion.
 
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Alexandros

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A laptop is a fixated hardware with a custom OS and we dont call it console for the same reason we call the Deck a PC.
You already addressed the custom OS part so I won't get into it. Suffice it to say that a laptop most certainly doesn't use a custom OS.

its not about the hardware, its about what they want to accomplish with this piece of hardware at the end of the day and it is pretty clear they dont want to compete against Sony, MS or Nintendo.
But Nintendo itself isn't competing with Sony and MS, it's doing something completely different. Is the Switch not a console? Who decided that you have to do exactly what Sony, MS and Nintendo are doing for a product to be called a console? The Ouya would fail every one of your criteria, did anyone object to the Ouya being called a console?
 

Mivey

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It has a console form factor but that doesn't mean it is a console, SteamOS is not a custom OS per say as it's just another Linux distro designed specifically designed to play games based on Arch and will be distributed for desktops too in the future, so, then, what does it have in common with PS5 OS or Nintendo Switch OS?
One important feature, custom developed for the Deck is the ability to suspend and resume games, and I do not think we will see that on PC any time soon. (though of course I'd be happy to be wrong) Valve floated the idea of suspending on your PC and resuming on the Deck, and even that seems pretty crazy to me, if they can pull it off. Doing suspend and resume on any PC out there, with any number of hardware and memory configurations is so much harder, especially when on WIndows you do not have that kind of low-level access.
Valve can directly work on the kernel and driver level to tune SteamOS on the Deck to play games better. Calling it a custom OS is in my book absolutely justified. As a minor point here, both Switch and PS5 take normal "PC" operating systems, like BSD (unix essentially), and just write the low-level driver stack to work well on their machines. That's not all that different than what Valve is doing here with Linux, making it work well on the Deck and adding custom features with gaming in mind.

But please do not misunderstand what I'm saying here. I'm not saying, it's either console or PC. When I say it's a PC/Console hybrid, I'm saying it has major elements of both, and if anything it's still more PC than console. Just that there's enough here to also justify calling it a console as well as a PC.
 

Alexandros

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I personally wouldn't call anything that runs unsigned software a console. But of course that's a very developer-centric perspective.
That's understandable. From a customer perspective though, would a random person pick up a Steam Deck, play around with it a bit and say "yeah, that's a PC and not a console"? For me the device can equally be thought of as a PC in a console form factor or an open console that can work as a PC.
 
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Nzyme

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Can I connect anything I want to it, customise and use it however I want, accessing all my PC games and applications?

If yes, it’s a PC.

Simple enough to me. PCs have so many form factors and custom use cases, and I’m sure there will be many more to come. Calling it a console on its own may be useful for comparison or arguments but not much further. I’d just end up appending PC to it to explain all its capability and freedom of use
 

Alexandros

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Can I connect anything I want to it, customise and use it however I want, accessing all my PC games and applications?

If yes, it’s a PC.

Simple enough to me. PCs have so many form factors and custom use cases, and I’m sure there will be many more to come. Calling it a console on its own may be useful for comparison or arguments but not much further. I’d just end up appending PC to it to explain all its capability and freedom of use
That's why this device is a great starting point to get people used to the idea that a console doesn't have to be this super locked down thing that you have zero agency with. As a hybrid it can demonstrate to people that you can have ease of use and security without giving the keys to the platform holder.
 

Paul

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For me the locked down nature of consoles is their defining feature. And for PC to be a PC it has to fulfill two conditions, X86 architecture to run all PC software and be open to installing of anything. So for me Steam Deck is a PC through and through, albeit in handheld formfactor.

However from marketing "we want this to be used by mainstream casual masses" perspective, we should just all call it a console.
 
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Alexandros

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I think it's a PC as it runs PC software and a PC OS and you can connect all kinds of PC crap to it, and PC's come in all shapes and sizes. But I also think it's a meaningless argument to be honest, what does it matter in the end?
It doesn't really, I just think it provides us with a chance to re-examine the concept of a console.
 
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Mivey

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I personally wouldn't call anything that runs unsigned software a console. But of course that's a very developer-centric perspective.
This is a very good point, as it ultimately also affects the customer experience, in the sense that there's a lot of "unsupervised" content you have access too, which is one, if not the, defining characteristic of PC gaming.

But at the same time, if you strictly stick to SteamOS, and strictlystick to games Valve wants to sell on its store (which is a basic form of curation, even if Valve is far more permissive than most platform holders), I think the experience on the Deck, with its bespoke features due to Valve's ability to built the hardware and provide low-level OS support, would have striking similarities -- from the perspective of a consumer- to a console.
 

Parsnip

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It doesn't really, I just think it provides us with a chance to re-examine the concept of a console.
I mean if you drill down to it, I'd argue that the one remaining and defining characteristic of a console is the locked down ecosystem and its first party software, and the second part of that is eroding away as well.
If you then make it open, like the Deck, what remains? Open console is a bit of an oxymoron. I guess one might argue that the dev tools and libraries and all that side of stuff is still proprietary and closed?


I don't know man, waxing philosophical about consoles and pc is a bit out there for me. But I'm sure all the wikipedia editors are pulling their hair out arguing if this device should be in the video game console category or not. :toucan:
 

yuraya

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The living room docking to TV experience has to be smooth or I don't see anyone ever labeling the Deck a console.

I see it basically being on the opposite spectrum with the Switch.

Switch = Handheld/Console
Deck = Handheld/Portable PC

The 4k output is there tho so if someone wants this to be a living room console device they can absolutely make it that. Most indies that release on Steam will run like butter on this thing via a 4k TV. Same with many pre previous gen games. But again the docking experience has to be a very smooth transition. If Valve doesn't do it then maybe some custom stuff pops up on Amazon after release. I personally want a custom giant dock that lets you slide in and insert your Deck horizontally. There has to be some type of cover/screen protection too because the one Valve shown so far looks like it could easily tip over and your deck could facepalm.
 
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Alexandros

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I'll copy a post I made elsewhere that sums up my argument.

I think there is an argument to be made that it is a new class of device between a PC and a console. Steam Deck easily satisfies the criteria of the most basic definition of a games console, a device custom built and dedicated to playing games. The fact that you can also use it as a PC if you want doesn't negate its original purpose and definition.

Of course, someone will obviously counter with "but you may have to adjust settings, and you can use it as PC, consoles aren't supposed to be like that". Says who? 30 years ago a console meant no patches, just plug and play. 20 years ago a console meant no x86 but custom silicon. 10 years ago a console meant no multiple configurations and an even playing field. 5 years ago a console meant no choice in graphical settings. The definition of a console is constantly evolving. Who's to say this isn't the next step?
 

Amzin

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The living room docking to TV experience has to be smooth or I don't see anyone ever labeling the Deck a console.

I see it basically being on the opposite spectrum with the Switch.

Switch = Handheld/Console
Deck = Handheld/Portable PC

The 4k output is there tho so if someone wants this to be a living room console device they can absolutely make it that. Most indies that release on Steam will run like butter on this thing via a 4k TV. Same with many pre previous gen games. But again the docking experience has to be a very smooth transition. If Valve doesn't do it then maybe some custom stuff pops up on Amazon after release. I personally want a custom giant dock that lets you slide in and insert your Deck horizontally. There has to be some type of cover/screen protection too because the one Valve shown so far looks like it could easily tip over and your deck could facepalm.
I know they said something briefly about 4k but for most games you are looking at over 4 times as much power to run something in 4K as 1080, and they aren't even targeting 1080 as their main resolution. I have a 2080 and I can't run previous gen AAA games (Sekiro, AC: Odyssey, Hitman, etc.) at high quality in most cases even though I can run a number of games in 1440P at ~90hz. The Deck is NOT going to be impressive in 4k except for a few cases, and a number of games I expect it not to be able to run at all in actual 4k.

That said, you can just run games in 1080p on a 4k TV and it'll look pretty decent. And most people don't have a 4k TV, although the actual primary audience that the Deck will land with is essentially unknown.

The console discussion is pretty circular to me, if we start defining console too hard it'll just end up being meaningless anyway. Personally I wouldn't consider the Stadia a console since it's basically a cable box that accepts controller input but plenty of people call it one. Some people have called Xbox / PS "living room computers" for some reason. Console as we are used to using it is a very recent linguistic evolution and it still means whatever "the public" want it to mean, and it'll continue to evolve for some time to come. The Deck fits some peoples' perception of a console and not others. I think it could arguably be accepted as one since it's a self-contained system (controls, power, OS, games, plug and play) and the openness of being a PC doesn't discount that. Things can fall into two categories.
 

ISee

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I'll copy a post I made elsewhere that sums up my argument.

I think there is an argument to be made that it is a new class of device between a PC and a console. Steam Deck easily satisfies the criteria of the most basic definition of a games console, a device custom built and dedicated to playing games. The fact that you can also use it as a PC if you want doesn't negate its original purpose and definition.

Of course, someone will obviously counter with "but you may have to adjust settings, and you can use it as PC, consoles aren't supposed to be like that". Says who? 30 years ago a console meant no patches, just plug and play. 20 years ago a console meant no x86 but custom silicon. 10 years ago a console meant no multiple configurations and an even playing field. 5 years ago a console meant no choice in graphical settings. The definition of a console is constantly evolving. Who's to say this isn't the next step?
I see where you are coming from; it's not a classic PC, despite having most important PC properties. So putting it in a new kind of (sub?)criteria can make sense.
But I do not like the approach of defining things by the most basic features. It's too loose and anything can be marketed as anything,
I'd rather see a definition based on the most important, prominent features.

PC; Most important features:

PC: Can run any kind of PC software from the past, at least theoretically (has a compatible CPU architecture). Check for both
PC: Can run Windows/Linux. Check for both
PC: Has an open hardware architecture: Not true for Deck.
(I think this part alone is why Deck needs to be classified as a PC sub- or hybrid-category. Like "Laptop")

2/3 matches for PC & Deck


Consoles; Most important features

  • Consoles: engineered for video games and media streaming only. Deck can run non gaming software, though the main intent is gaming.
  • Consoles: hardware is mostly set in stone: True for both
  • Consoles: games are easy to run, press start and go: Not true for Deck. Tinkering with settings and sort of knowing what they are doing will still be important.
  • Consoles have a closed off eco system: Not true for Deck...

1/4 matches for Deck and Consoles

Tablets, Most important features

  • Tablets: Portable, lightweight, ; True for Deck
  • Tablets: Touchscreen: True for Deck
  • Tablets: Integrated, internal battery: True for Deck
  • Tablets: Fixed Hardware: True for Deck
  • Tablets: Mostly designed for gaming and media consumption, but can run pro software: True for Deck
  • Tablets: Games are easy to run, press start and go: Not true for Deck...
  • Closed off eco system (iOS); sort of open for Android: Deck hits the Android definition.

5.5/7 matches for PC & Deck


I think Deck is a PC & Tablet hybrid. Which sounds strange, because we have Tablet PCs with windows 10. The difference is: Win 10 Tablets are productivity, media devices, Deck is a gaming device;

It's a PC gaming Tablet.
 

Nzyme

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Argument war whether Steam Deck is a PC or console?
Personally I don't care as long as I can play my retro-ish games with it :pleasedblob:
This is pretty much it. It only matters to those so eager to define it as what they want irrespective of what it does. If we define it as what it does, it plays PC games and runs PC applications. So calling it a PC makes a lot of sense. Calling it a console seems to runaround in circles of it being easy to use with a custom OS, but that seems to be where it ends. Ultimately to me it doesn’t matter. I’m playing PC stuff on it, and using my PC applications. It’s great!
 

Yoshi

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According to a report from Phoronix, AMD and Valve are working together to design a better CPU performance scaling driver for Linux, targeting the Steam Deck gaming console.
...
According to the report, Valve has been improving the CPU frequency scaling of Zen 2 cores in a joint effort with AMD. Steam Deck will obviously benefit from this collaboration, along with other AMD processors that run on Linux.
 

ganmo

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looking on this picture the size of steam deck doesn't look that awfully large. too bad the controllers are permanent attached though. I guess if they made it deattachable like the Switch then Nintendo would sue them perhaps.
 
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lashman

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looking on this picture the size of steam deck doesn't look that awfully large. too bad the controllers are permanent attached though. I guess if they made it deattachable like the Switch then Nintendo would sue them perhaps.
yeah, maybe ... and also it would probably need to be quite a bit bigger to do that as well (i can only imagine a good part of the innards are inside the controller bits as well ... not to mention batteries etc.)
 

lashman

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What did he do?
took sponsorship money from one of those scammers, and then when everyone rightfully called him out on it - he """""apologized""""" by saying "we won't do it ever again, but the video stays up" ... and didn't even have the balls to admit he can't take it down because he already took the money for it
 
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Deku

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looking on this picture the size of steam deck doesn't look that awfully large. too bad the controllers are permanent attached though. I guess if they made it deattachable like the Switch then Nintendo would sue them perhaps.
Maybe I am crazy, but I think I am going to use an external controller instead of Steam Deck's own controller :)
 
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Pommes

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I am really interested if (how) Valve will solve the game compatibility problem :huhblob:
Don't get me wrong Proton/Wine is a really great piece of software in what it achieves.
But I expect that there will be a sizeable portion of the Steam library that either will not run or that will show problems (performance, glitches etc.).
Such problems are okay if you know that they might happen and if you like to tinker a little bit.

With the form factor and the user interface this device (also) aims at people who expect a "console like" experience.
This may lead to headlines when the Steam Deck launches: "We tried game X and it does not run" or "These 10 games that do not work on the Steam Deck will surprise you".
And that will automatically lead to comparisons to the switch etc. ("The best thing about the Switch: It does actually run games").
Is this hyperbole? Yes absolutely. But it is also the way of the news/hype cycle.

Let's hope that it will not get that bad.

By the way: Despite all the negative vibes I'm spreading in this post I already reserved my pre-order and I am very exited for the Steam Deck :awwblob:

Random stat for the end (very rough estimate - heavy guessing involved): There are probably 5+ times as many games on Steam with a good Proton rating or a native Linux version as their are games on the Switch.
 

Alexandros

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I am really interested if (how) Valve will solve the game compatibility problem :huhblob:
Don't get me wrong Proton/Wine is a really great piece of software in what it achieves.
But I expect that there will be a sizeable portion of the Steam library that either will not run or that will show problems (performance, glitches etc.).
Such problems are okay if you know that they might happen and if you like to tinker a little bit.

With the form factor and the user interface this device (also) aims at people who expect a "console like" experience.
This may lead to headlines when the Steam Deck launches: "We tried game X and it does not run" or "These 10 games that do not work on the Steam Deck will surprise you".
And that will automatically lead to comparisons to the switch etc. ("The best thing about the Switch: It does actually run games").
Is this hyperbole? Yes absolutely. But it is also the way of the news/hype cycle.

Let's hope that it will not get that bad.

By the way: Despite all the negative vibes I'm spreading in this post I already reserved my pre-order and I am very exited for the Steam Deck :awwblob:

Random stat for the end (very rough estimate - heavy guessing involved): There are probably 5+ times as many games on Steam with a good Proton rating or a native Linux version as their are games on the Switch.
I honestly don't think that compatibility will be an issue. Proton is already in a great state and Steam Deck is a single hardware configuration that they can test with games and be sure that it works. I am not worried at all.
 

Readher

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I honestly don't think that compatibility will be an issue. Proton is already in a great state and Steam Deck is a single hardware configuration that they can test with games and be sure that it works. I am not worried at all.
I don't know. I literally tried running VtM: Bloodlines using Proton a few hours ago and it wouldn't launch without installing the Unofficial Patch. That in itself isn't that bad since you shouldn't play the game without the patch anyway, but since the game runs through proton, installing it requires using protontricks and launching the patch installer through it. Both operations require you to use terminal and fairly lengthy commands. That's fine for someone like me who is used to tinkering with games and such, but imagine someone who has no idea what to do when the game doesn't launch right away and has no experience in/drive to troubleshoot whatsoever. That's just one example of a game requiring so much work, and a fairly known one at that (if old). I don't see Valve truly fixing the compatibility problem before Deck's launch. I'm not targeting it at you specifically, but I feel like a lot of people saying that Proton is already great simply parrot what some Linux fanatics that are kinda living in their own reality have claimed for the last few years. The reality for someone used to gaming on Windows (never mind consoles where "everything just works") is quite different.
 
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ISee

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Unfortunately I have to agree with Readher on this. I had Ubuntu running on my PC alongside Windows for good half a year and tried gaming on it many times. When it works, it works well. But my 2020 experience was: Proton and Whine are far from perfect and certainly not able to run everything. There is still a lot of tinkering, reading up and frustration involved, when things do not work. At least for somebody on my low level of Linux experience.

edit:
I encourage everybody to try it out yourself. Installing Ubuntu (or something else) as a second operating system isn't hard.
 
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EdwardTivrusky

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I'd expect the community or Valve to produce easy-to-use solutions for these kinds of issues pretty quickly after the SteamDeck is launched. For all we know Valve may have tools in-development internally to help with such things. It's fixed hardware so a lot of the commands could be standardised and wrapped by launch or soon after. It's not like you don't have to get technical to run some games under Windows either but yeah, i can see some people saying "It took me 20 minutes to get a game running, i;m going back to my Console! This is shit." of course.

You never know, it might make many people curious rather than put them off. It could be some people's first techie awakening and of course there's also going to be the people who just put windows on it when it's 5 minutes out of the box.

I do expect many forums/reddits/discords etc to be a mess for a while as people work things out and then guides and wikis will pop up and things will be better. At least Steam has the Workshop and Guides section as well as the foums to help.
 
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Alexandros

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I don't know. I literally tried running VtM: Bloodlines using Proton a few hours ago and it wouldn't launch without installing the Unofficial Patch. That in itself isn't that bad since you shouldn't play the game without the patch anyway, but since the game runs through proton, installing it requires using protontricks and launching the patch installer through it. Both operations require you to use terminal and fairly lengthy commands. That's fine for someone like me who is used to tinkering with games and such, but imagine someone who has no idea what to do when the game doesn't launch right away and has no experience in/drive to troubleshoot whatsoever. That's just one example of a game requiring so much work, and a fairly known one at that (if old). I don't see Valve truly fixing the compatibility problem before Deck's launch. I'm not targeting it at you specifically, but I feel like a lot of people saying that Proton is already great simply parrot what some Linux fanatics that are kinda living in their own reality have claimed for the last few years. The reality for someone used to gaming on Windows (never mind consoles where "everything just works") is quite different.
I understand your concerns but I don't share them, I believe most games will just work.
 

Readher

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I understand your concerns but I don't share them, I believe most games will just work.
I imagine it won't be much of a problem for an average user, as I expect vast majority of X360/PS3 era and later games to work flawlessly (vanilla unmodded versions of course). Anything older than that is on case by case basis I'm afraid. The amount of tinkering I had to do with VtM:B, Deus Ex, Deus Ex Invisible War (that one still doesn't really work - the menus are f'd up), Arcanum, Icewind Dale 2 Complete are imo way out of scope of Proton development itself and require a lot of game-specific fixes and third-party patches.
 

Pommes

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I don't know. I literally tried running VtM: Bloodlines using Proton a few hours ago and it wouldn't launch without installing the Unofficial Patch. That in itself isn't that bad since you shouldn't play the game without the patch anyway, but since the game runs through proton, installing it requires using protontricks and launching the patch installer through it. Both operations require you to use terminal and fairly lengthy commands. That's fine for someone like me who is used to tinkering with games and such, but imagine someone who has no idea what to do when the game doesn't launch right away and has no experience in/drive to troubleshoot whatsoever. That's just one example of a game requiring so much work, and a fairly known one at that (if old). I don't see Valve truly fixing the compatibility problem before Deck's launch. I'm not targeting it at you specifically, but I feel like a lot of people saying that Proton is already great simply parrot what some Linux fanatics that are kinda living in their own reality have been parroting for the last few years. The reality for someone used to gaming on Windows (never mind consoles where "everything just works") is quite different.
Other examples for problems and quirks to add from my personal experience:
  • Endless Legend: It does run but the mid / late game performance was noticeably worse than on Windows
  • Deep Rock Galactic: It did run without any problems until one update where the game got stuck on the mission loading screen. Could be solved by using an earlier Proton version. Later versions of Proton patched this.
  • Sid Meier's Civilization VI (native Linux version): Crashed on startup. This could be solved by deleting a file from the game directory.
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Did work until a recent patch. Reading on ProtonDB roughly 3 month later there is a solution (copying an extra dll file in the game folder).
  • WE ARE FOOTBALL (a football/soccer manager game): Crashed at the start of a new game when selecting which database to use (e.g. use official data or use modded database). Thankfully the developer patched this.
  • For some (mostly older?) games video files can not be played. This is due to lacking support of the video codec (probably because of a missing license). As far as I know they are working on this.
This is probably also due too random factors (choice of distro, hardware etc.) which will be less problematic by having only one device with specific hardware and software which developers can optimize for. So I expect that the situation will improve over time after the release of the Steam Deck.

I understand your concerns but I don't share them, I believe most games will just work.
This is true: Most games will work. But many people who will buy the Steam Deck will expect (nearly) all games to work.
And that might be a problem. Not for you but for the broader audience of the Steam Deck.
 

boop beep

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I didn’t out much active thought into it until Linus pointed it out, but it really is neat how many input methods the Deck packs — touch screen, d-pad, analog sticks, touch pads, and gyro. It’s gonna take control customization to a new level. I hope we can use the touch screen to map certain areas to buttons, like you can do on Vita via Moonlight. So many shortcuts! Great.
 
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yuraya

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Linus really brought a thermal camera :ROFLMAO: that is amazing.

And yea the grip area are so much cooler than it was on the Aya. Especially on the back grips.

Basically shows the importance of making powerful device like this bit more bulkier and wider. This type of design will be a must for any future portable PCs.
 

Alexandros

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I imagine it won't be much of a problem for an average user, as I expect vast majority of X360/PS3 era and later games to work flawlessly (vanilla unmodded versions of course). Anything older than that is on case by case basis I'm afraid. The amount of tinkering I had to do with VtM:B, Deus Ex, Deus Ex Invisible War (that one still doesn't really work - the menus are f'd up), Arcanum, Icewind Dale 2 Complete are imo way out of scope of Proton development itself and require a lot of game-specific fixes and third-party patches.
The advantage of Steam Deck compared to your use case is that Valve only has to test a single hardware configuration. I don't think your experience can or should be applied to the Steam Deck.

This is true: Most games will work. But many people who will buy the Steam Deck will expect (nearly) all games to work.
And that might be a problem. Not for you but for the broader audience of the Steam Deck.
Luckily, Valve too expects nearly all games to work. People from Valve have said so many times in different interviews. I have no idea how they intend to do it but I imagine that they wouldn't make such a statement if they didn't have something to back it up.
 

Aztechnology

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The videos today were fantastic. I personally am kind of glad I didn’t go 512 with the etched glass. I plan on putting a tempered glass screen protector on no matter what, so I prefer the additional clarity if I’m getting glare anyway.
 

Durante

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I honestly don't think that compatibility will be an issue. Proton is already in a great state and Steam Deck is a single hardware configuration that they can test with games and be sure that it works. I am not worried at all.
I think you are underestimating the breadth of the Steam library, the sheer API surface (documented and undocumented) available to decades of proprietary Windows games and their respective DRM and anti-cheat solutions, and the depth of the technical issues which will present themselves when trying to get all of it to run flawlessly. I'll say it right now: that's not happening.

I'm more than willing to eat crow if they actually manage to do it (and e.g. PSO2, which is an MMO with a decade of patchworked technology and a semi-custom anti-cheat behind it works at launch), but Valve implying full Steam library compatibility is the biggest (basically only?) mistake with how they've presented the Deck so far IMHO.