Gabe Newell: Pricing Valve's Switch-Like Steam Deck Was "Painful"


Nintendo Life 16 July, 2021 - 12:00am 56 views

When is steam deck coming out?

When will the Steam Deck release? The Steam Deck will begin shipping in December 2021. PC GamerSteam Deck: Everything we know about Valve's new handheld gaming device

Cheapest model will be $50 more than the OLED Switch

In case you missed it, Valve's rumoured "Switch-like" handheld device has now been officially revealed as the Steam Deck.

While the American company best-known for its digital games platform on PC hasn't drawn any comparisons to Nintendo's hybrid system itself, it's sort of hard to ignore certain similarities and the fact the price point is only $50 more than the recently announced Switch OLED.

During a chat with IGN, Valve's president Gabe Newell mentioned how crucial it was to find the balance between performance and pricing when designing the Steam Deck. While performance was the top priority, unfortunately, the trade-off was what Newell refers to as a "painful" price point:

"I want to pick this up and say, oh, it all works. It's all fast. It's all... and then price point was secondary and painful. But that was pretty clearly a critical aspect to it."

In a hands-on video, IGN compared the tech inside the system within the "ballpark" of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 - while showcasing games like Control and Death Stranding running on it. Admittedly it's light years ahead of the Switch in terms of the kind of games it'll be able to run, and yet it's only $50 more than an OLED model.

If Valve gets it right, Newell believes this new device - which the company has described as a "small PC" and can even support windows - could go onto potentially sell millions of units:

"So our view is, if we're doing this right, then we're going to be selling these millions of units."

Just yesterday, Bloomberg released a report claiming Switch OLED upgrades cost Nintendo around $10 more per unit.

What are your own thoughts about the $399 / £349 starting price of the Steam Deck compared to Nintendo's Switch pricing? Do you think Nintendo has anything to be worried about? Leave your thoughts down below.


About Liam Doolan

When he’s not paying off a loan to Tom Nook, Liam likes to report on the latest Nintendo news and admire his library of video games. His favourite Nintendo character used to be a guitar-playing dog, but nowadays he prefers to hang out with Judd the cat.

Comments (42)

Starting to regret a whole bunch of switch double dips now, could have saved a lotof money. Was dreaming of a switch Dishonered port but no longer necessary.

It could be huge because so many people are on steam. It could be a flop because who's going to play CS with a gamepad. But it could be huge for casual ffxiv players.

Personally I will buy a game on steam if they have it because the prices are generally better, ahem no Nintendo tax, they look better if you have a half decent computer, and because I know I'll likely be able to play it forever into the future without needing to have every system.

All other games, mostly Nintendo exclusives, I buy on consoles.

This certainly could dig into indie sales, but Nintendo’s got its first party games that make it unique. Looks cool for Steam folks, though!

I watched the videos but I wonder if it is offline friendly after you download your games to it?

I am very excited to play games like Sacred 2, Clive Barker's Undying or some other PC Exclusives like Heroes of Might and Magic games.

We might have Nintendo backed into a corner here, Nintendo will ether one, Not do anything even if its getting good sales, Two do something, or 3, Just leave the handheld market all together, all though the 3rd option seems unlikely.

@Zuljaras I imagine it will have an offline mode since Steam does.

For example, the nintendo switch controller has full support through steam, but if you try to play GoG or Epic games with the switch pro (through steam) only some games work, a lot dont.

I hope they smooth it out, but after the whole steam controller, steam box ordeal, i wouldn't hold my breath!

TBH pricing is impressive (a real heads up for the PC market).

This looks like a great device but I can’t help but feel the lessons of the PSP have not be learned.

Sony’s console was great but it was hampered by developers making home console games for it. Nintendo kept making portable games and won.

People might be going ‘but you can get Skyrim on Switch!’ and you’d be right. But most people buy a switch for Nintendo franchises first. Look at the best games: BOTW and Mario Odyssey are actually portable games in disguise, able to be played for 10 minutes to find a Korok or grab a Moon. It’s a testament to Nintendo that these games do not feel like portable games yet have that baked into their DNA.

Your steam library is not built for portable play.

I will get one in April of next year. It seems like a really promising device and the fact that you will already have games on it with Steam will be awesome. The icing on the cake is to be able to play certain "games" on it that are DEFINITELY exclusive for PC. And I don't mean emulation or keyboard/mouse games.

@PapaSmurfCDMCMD So I can play GOG games on it. This looks surreal ... to good to be true.

God forbid it's actually in the 300's, then they'll have to recognize that the number 3 exists

I pre-ordered Switch OLED and will pre-order this Desk as well once they are available in my country.

I don't see this doing very well. It will sell perhaps enough to justify itself, but it will not substantially cut into Switch sales. It appeals to a largely different audience (really just hardcore gamers, which make for a smaller percentage of Switch ownership than people realize), and — critically — it can't offer Nintendo exclusives.

The Steam Deck will Probably be the competence Nintendo needed to stop being so greedy.

IMO, this shouldn't qualify as Nintendo news but... I'll speculate, why not?

Personally, I don't think that Nintendo has anything to worry about.They've ruled the handheld market with an iron fist, for a very long time. As impressive as this device is, will it sell in Japan? Oh... And by "sell" I mean even make a blip on the radar?

Lastly, it's very impressive hardware but I just don't see this impacting the Switch's future success. I'd assume that most Steam users who have wanted to game portable have already bought a Switch. Most Switch users who have wanted to game on more powerful hardware have already bought a PS5/Xbox Series/Gaming PC. So... Where exactly does that leave this thing, if Valve even decides to stay in game for this Gen?

Hope the preorders aren't a mess. I have meetings all tomorrow morning so is going to be very tricky timewise. Am going for the largest one. Good luck everyone if you're going for it

Only time will tell if this will be a huge success or failure. At the end of the day, if people, especially PC gamers would want to play AAA titles, then they'd stick with their high-end PC. You also got to think of what made the Switch special, and those are exclusive games. Yes, you get a lot of games on Steam and maybe more outside of it but how many of those are similar to that of Mario, Zelda, Smash Bros., Pokémon, something that Switch has. Yes, emulators will be a thing here but still, if you want to officially support Nintendo games, you have to go with the Switch.

Not dissing on the Steam Deck completely though, this could be a good thing so Nintendo can step up their game and release a more powerful handheld system. Provided that they find this as competition but I feel like Nintendo is confident enough with their standing on the handheld market.

It certainly is an interesting device. Not new just interesting. Really, what does valve have to gain from this? Most companies don't make money off of hardware. It's the services and software they make money off of. I do see this being a mean emulating machine though (another argument/battle in ROMs and where you stand on that one.) I do wonder how many people are willing to be testers of a 1st gen? How many units does valve need to sell for it to be a success? Does Nintendo need to be scared? Not necessaryly because of their strong line up of IPs. Obviously people want "pro" switch but Nintendo will continue to march to their own beat while maximizing profits and investing in other places that are not gaming related.

It seems that they’re taking the portable to pc niche, so that has potential.

That said, if they play their cards wrong, it might end up like the steam box. Thing is, the thing plays games that were already available on pc which the handheld is guaranteed to never surpass.

Also, people hoping that this is Nintendo’s wake up call needs a reality check… The switch has a pretty good chance at hitting 100 mil units this year, and the steam handheld doesn’t release until what December early spring? The only way this gonna be viable is if Valve focuses on maintaining a momentum BEFORE competing with anyone else.

@Snatcher Who's we? Is that you Gabe?

Gotta say, I actually like it. Though it won't have any new first party Nintendo games so it would be a bust for me unless I wanted a console that plays great looking third party games, which is possible. Looks nice too.

Some of these hot takes are wild.

Should you be worried about Steam Deck?

Should you be worried about the Switch?

Have you made a mistake buying a Switch?

Let us know in the comments below.

Going to find a new website I think...

It’s no Nintendo… that’s all! 😜

It’s good to have competition in the marketplace, hopefully Nintendo see a some threat from this which impacts sales to push them to innovate further in the future - this will hopefully be a positive for Nintendo and us

I don't think Nintendo need to be worried - it's always been the case that you buy a Nintendo console primarily for Nintendo games. Their IPs aren't going anywhere.

At least we'll finally be able to play classic games on a handheld system though, since this will run emulators.

@SalvorHardin I agree. I want to see a new handheld with it's own platform. Not a mini laptop or android phone that resembles a Vita.

The Switch is disappointing me as a handheld and I find myself craving a DS 3.

@Xiovanni Is not here and called switch lite?

For me, Nintendo needs to pay attention to Valve and anyone entering the portable console market, as it is clearly a statement that Nintendo was right and Switch is a huge success and they will have more competition.

Which is no bad, that might make them project Switch 2 with the competition performance in mind and bring dlss and other nice gimmicks.

It looks like a cheap retro 300-in-1 handheld that you buy at the Euroshopper. Hardly any s-appeal. Boring color scheme.

@Yomogi from my personal perspective, I'm not as bothered about cutting edge AAA games on this thing. I'm more excited about the thousands of indie, niche and old games. There's just so many it's hard to process. Imagine playing Yakuza 0, Arkam Asylum, Deus Ex, the swapper, metal gear revengeance, grow home, fallout new Vegas, jazz punk, supraland (just to name a minute few).. in handheld. It's endless.

@cookeecut Button placement is actually a lot more reasonable than you'd think. They're positioned high, which should prevent thumb cramping. If they were positioned low like a traditional controller or the Switch then your thumbs would become sore overtime because you're reaching inward toward the buttons. As they're positioned, your thumb rests comfortably over either the buttons or the joysticks. This is actually one of the things I thought about with the joy-con because the Satisfye grip makes it more ergonomic and I wondered what would make the joy-con more comfortable to use on their own.

Never planned on owning a Valve device until today. I don't have a gaming PC but would LOVE access to a portable Gamepass console and a way to play chunky 3rd party games on the go, like GTAV, No Man's Sky, modded Skyrim etc.

After reading a lot about the device, I've decided to hold off on my OLED "upgrade" and get the Steam Deck instead. Seems like a perfect way to complete my gaming options, when in addition to my beloved Switch and PS5.

@westman98 @WCB Hey look I wont coral with you, I agree that the 3rd one is wild, but its nintendo were talking about.

@aSmilingMan Important to note that it comes with Linux installed so you'd need to install Windows to use Gamepass.

I have a hard time believing this will be anything more than a niche portable for those already invested in PC gaming. Not even Sony could dethrone Nintendo in the portable arena. The PSP was a bonafide console with dedicated software and mass appeal. The DS still vastly out sold it. As powerful as the Deck will be, the Switch just works. This seems like something that will require a lot of tinkering to get the most out of. Steam games weren't developed with portable play in mind, so things like UI, lower resolution screen and storage are going to keep this from being appealing to console and casual gamers. That said, I'm sure it will have a fanbase. Just not a massive one like the Switch. Nintendo has always done fine with underpowered handhelds.

@HexagonSun This isn't going to dethrone Nintendo in any way. It's not a console. It's a portable PC.

This is actually great competition against very expensive "gaming" laptops. And in a time with chipshortages. A very welcome one.

For the few games that actualy need a mouse, thats what the touch screens are for.

While this may be a cool device, it won't cut into the Switch's sales much at all. People keep bringing up how its only $50 more than the OLED but fail to point out it's $100 and $200 more than the base Switch and Switch lite, respectively. And obviously the Deck won't be able to play the lastest Nintendo games barring piracy so yeah.

But like I said, a cool device and I'm definitely considering it. Hopefully Valve can sell it on at least Amazon and not just through their own site.

@Kirgo true, but the markets are different. For instance I play console games but I also have my own custom build gaming PC. For me, this wouldn't replace my Switch. It would replace my laptop.

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Cheapest model will be $50 more than the OLED Switch

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Video game handhelds didn’t die after all

The Verge 16 July, 2021 - 01:10am

Mobile gaming still dominates, but dedicated devices have their niche

Valve just announced the Steam Deck, a chunky portable PC that looks like a Sega Game Gear from a parallel universe. It’s designed to let players take their Steam library of PC games on the go. Just a few hours later, preorders opened for the latest iteration of the Nintendo Switch, one that doesn’t change much aside from a bigger, brighter OLED screen and a kickstand that doesn’t suck. Meanwhile, Panic is planning to release the oddball Playdate this year, and Analogue is building possibly the most beautiful Game Boy ever with the Pocket, also slated for a 2021 launch.

The Steam Deck follows a similar approach. It’s basically a cheap PC with a screen so you can play on the go, but which can also connect to an external monitor or TV if you want. It’s kind of like a Switch without Nintendo games. Given Valve’s history with building hardware like the Steam Controller and living room-focused Steam Machines, chances are the Steam Deck won’t be the breakout hit the Switch was. It could usher in a new style of PC gaming hardware, or, far more likely, it could end up as a beloved niche. But its sheer existence further proves that there’s a market here.

Because smartphone gaming didn’t kill the portable console. Mobile gaming continues to be a massive success; EA isn’t throwing around billions of dollars for nothing. But, for the most part, the kinds of games that have proven to be successful on mobile aren’t the ones you would buy a device specifically to play. Free-to-play has completely upended the space, covering virtually every genre and major release, from Pokémon Go to Call of Duty Mobile to Candy Crush Saga. At this point, unless your game is called Minecraft, it’s probably not going to sell. Apple Arcade is an attempt to bring things back to those early, exciting days of premium iPhone gaming, but dedicated handhelds seem better suited to filling that niche.

In some ways, 2021 looks a lot like the handheld markets of years past. You have Nintendo leading the way at the top, and lots of other companies — some big, some small — trying to carve out their own niche. In the past, those failed experiments have turned into much-loved devices. I still keep a Vita, Game Boy Micro, and Neo Geo Pocket Color in a desk drawer because I can’t let go. That could very well happen again here, as none of these machines are a guaranteed success. Years from now, a Playdate might fill an empty space in that drawer. But one thing is for certain: I can’t wait to travel again with a messenger bag full of games.

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