May 25, 2024

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3 reasons why the Steam Deck is the ultimate handheld device

3 reasons why the Steam Deck is the ultimate handheld device

the first steam floors Ships to eager customers today, to deliver months of hype of a computer compact into a handheld device. While the reviews dissect battery life, performance, and heat, I’m focusing on the least talked-about aspects of Steam Deck: how much Valve has done to improve previous mobile devices.

Nintendo has dominated mobile gaming, at least outside of Huge library of Android games Available. Sony got involved, but Nintendo created a mobile paradigm. And now, Valve is rolling out this rulebook with Steam Deck.

Performance, battery life, and all the technical parts of Steam Deck are important. But beyond frame rates and game compatibility, Valve has laid the groundwork for building the best handheld device with Steam Deck. Here’s how.

Open the software, open the hardware

Well, the games on Steam are not completely unlocked. Like other PC gaming platforms, Steam allows developers to implement Digital Rights Management (DRM) If they choose to, but only if the developers and publishers choose to do so. the long List of DRM-free games on Steam It is often overlooked.

In fact, Valve offers its own Steamworks publishing service to small developers, which is completely free and behind games like Hades, hotline miami, And the Psychological pioneers. Steamworks includes DRM, but like all Steamworks features, it’s optional. You can even play the lion’s share of Valve games separately from Steam by Launched through the station On Windows (including the latest Half-life: Alex).

As for other mobile devices, Nintendo just announced that it 3DS close and Wii U game stores, and while gamers will still be able to download games they’ve purchased, it’s only a matter of time before the plug is pulled too. Sony also announced that it will withdraw support for the PlayStation Vita store, despite the company’s backlash after the backlash.

I’m not trying to build Steam beyond what it is. In the huge library of games available on Steam, most of them use DRM, and Steam enforces it. However, there are options, and you won’t lose out at least everyone From your library in case Valve ends up supporting one day as well.

Most importantly, Steam Deck is not limited to Steam. If you are concerned about DRM, you can always choose games from a DRM-free platform like GOG, which has a huge list of games that run natively on Linux.

Linux games on GOG.

With a Nintendo or Sony handheld device, you’re limited to a single storefront. With Steam Deck, you can pick up games wherever you want, including the option to purchase some DRM-free games. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a lot better than what previous mobile devices have offered.


Disassembling the Steam Deck from iFixit shows that you can easily remove the thumbsticks.

Anyone who’s tried working on a Nintendo Switch knows where I’m going here. When it comes to custom built machines like the Steam Deck, serviceability is key. You can’t just buy parts off the shelf as you can with a computer, so easy access to components and a strong repair network are essential to making sure your machine can keep working.

Valve has kept its promise Steam Deck Parts Sale So that customers can service their own devices (or take them to a repair shop). Valve went with iFixIt as the official retailer of Steam Deck and Index VR components, and the company even shipped the Deck to iFixIt early on for a complete takedown.

Time is the only way to know if Valve will continue that support, but the signs are promising. At least, Valve is making an effort by doing things like partnering with iFixIt and Publishing CAD files For everything on Steam Deck. This is a lot more than other mobile device makers can say.

Nintendo Switch is famous for Develop stick drift – An issue where one of the analog sticks detects an exact input even when you don’t touch the stick. There is now a robust ecosystem for Nintendo Switch repair, including replacement thumb sticks, but that network isn’t until now Multiple group lawsuits It was filed against Nintendo.

This does not mean that Nintendo uses subpar hardware – like iFixIt indicatesAll analog sticks have a limited life. The difference is that Valve is getting ahead of this limited life by providing components and getting the hardware into the hands of repair experts.

Steam Deck will have inevitable problems; Components will break and will have to be replaced. Even before the Steam Deck began shipping, though, Valve put resources in place so that customers have the option to repair their deck outside of asking for help on Reddit threads.

backward compatibility

Fallout running on a PC.
Fallout 1997? You don’t need to wait for such a port.

Backward compatibility is an issue every console faces. Microsoft has been keen to bring back support for older titles through the Xbox One and Xbox Series X, and PlayStation has started the process by supporting PS4 games on PS5. PC is still the winner when it comes to backwards compatibility, and Steam Deck is just about PC.

There are two big problems that backwards compatibility solves on a mobile device: inflated game prices and reselling games you’ve already bought. Some games are notoriously expensive on mobile devices, and without digital copies available, your only option is to pay or resort to hacking. want to play 3 . character on the PSP? That would be 200 dollarsplease.

Among the library on Steam and third-party platforms like GOG and Humble Bundle, you can find the vast majority of PC games ever released, regardless of their age. There are exceptions – titles like Transformers: Havoc even Rocket League Pulled from Steam — but you have a lot more options for getting a reasonably priced game on PC than you do on a closed platform like the PSP or even the Nintendo Switch.

You don’t have buy-back games either. Nintendo is famous for this. If you store Virtual Console titles for your 3DS, this is the only place you can play them. If you want to play the classics paid for On your Nintendo Switch, you’ll need to pay again for a Nintendo Switch Online membership (assuming the games you purchased come as part of the program).

Mario with a shocked expression.
I was shocked that Nintendo shipped the same game a few times as well, Mario.

If Valve ever releases Steam Deck 2, presumably you’ll be able to take every game you’ve purchased with you. And with DRM-free options available, you’ll be able to continue playing the games you’ve already purchased – even if you never follow up on Steam Deck.

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