How to pre-order Steam Deck, Valve's handheld gaming PC

Technology 16 July, 2021 - 07:35am 8 views

Does the stream deck have expandable storage?

The Steam Deck supports expandable storage through SD cards, meaning you can grab one and just slot it in to make room for more games, especially if you don't have a model with an SSD. Windows CentralSteam Deck specs list

Pre-order requirements are in place to counter reselling.

Pre-orders for Valve's handheld gaming PC, Steam Deck, open today, but getting your hands on the new device may prove difficult due to the measures that Valve has in place to deter resellers.

If you didn't catch yesterday's reveal, Valve calls Steam Deck "the most powerful, full-featured gaming handheld in the world." As well as being able to access your entire Steam library on the move, you can also stream video content, browse the web and install and access other PC software.

If you weren't impressed by the Nintendo Switch OLED reveal or you simply want more ways to churn through your Steam backlog, you can find out how and where to pre-order the Valve Steam Deck below. It isn't as straightforward as you might think...

All three versions of the Valve Steam Deck start shipping in December 2021 (no exact date has been provided yet) to customers in the UK, EU, US and Canada. The device is expected to release in other countries outside of these areas in 2022.

You'll be able to place a reserve order for the Steam Deck direct from the Steam website today (Friday 16 July) at 6pm BST/1pm EST/10am PDT. Reservations are limited to one per customer and carry a $5 fee which is taken off the balance of your total purchase when you place your order for the device.

If you're the type of person that needs constant reminders to do things, you can also visit the website now to set up a handy reminder email. And if you missed your opportunity to pre-order the device, the $5 will be added to your Steam balance.

It's important to note that this isn't your typical, straightforward pre-order process. Notice the wording of reserve rather than pre-order. Reserving the Steam Deck is no guarantee that you'll be able to purchase it.

No other retailers are listing the Valve Steam Deck at the time of writing, but we'll be updating this page with links and pricing information for other outlets if they start stocking the device.

The reservation system places you into a queuing system where Valve will contact you when Steam Deck stock is available to purchase. You'll be contacted depending on when you placed your reservation, so if you reallywant one, get those reservations in quickly - if you can, that is...

While reservations open for the Steam Deck today, you'll only be able to place a reservation in the initial 48-hour window if you've made a purchase on Steam prior to June 2021.

If you don't have a Steam account already, you'll have to wait until Sunday to get your reservations in, which will bump you further down the queue.

It's expected that demand for the Steam Deck will outweigh supply, and this measure is to prevent resellers buying bulk copies of the handheld device to sell at inflated prices.

Your Steam account needs to be in a valid region too. At the time of writing, these are the UK, EU, US and Canada. If you live outside of these areas, Valve's FAQs state information about expanded region support is "coming soon."

There are three main models of the Valve Steam Deck with prices ranging from £349/$399 up to £569/$649 and the cheapest version coming with 64GB eMMC storage. Performance is the same across all three models with Valve boss Gabe Newell revealing pricing the Vale Steam Deck has been difficult due to its specs.

The version up from that includes faster 256GB SSD storage for £459/$529 and a carry case and Steam community profile bundle, while the most expensive model comes with 512GB SSD storage, anti-glare etched glass and an exclusive virtual keyboard theme, as well as the carry case and community profile bundle.

Make sure you've put some time into thinking about which version of the Steam Deck you want. Once you've placed your reservation and you receive the invitation to pre-order, you'll only have access to the model you chose.

The Steam Deck is powered by an AMD APU processor with a quad core Zen 2 CPU and an AMD RDNA 2 GPU with 8 Compute units. There's 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and all versions of the Steam Deck come with a high-speed microSD slot, and there are no other differences across the different models in terms of performance.

We expect the side-by-side comparisons with the Nintendo Switch to continue for some time. The Steam Deck features a 7" touchscreen display and there's even an official dock (sold separately) for video output to monitors, TVs and other devices.

You can take a more detailed look at the Valve Steam Deck's specs and layout by checking out our announcement coverage.

That's everything for now. We'd love to hear your thoughts on the Valve Steam Deck and who it will appeal to most. Is the lack of news around the Switch Pro enough to make Nintendo fans pick it up? What about the people that lack a decent gaming PC/laptop but have been looking for way into the Steam library? Let us know below.

And don't forget you can follow Jelly Deals on Twitter to keep up with the latest gaming deals and discounts, as well as regular updates on PS5 stock and Xbox Series X stock when it goes live.

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What is Valve Proton? The Steam Deck's live-or-die Linux software, explained

PCWorld 16 July, 2021 - 03:02pm

Looking at the spec sheet alone, the just-revealed $399 Steam Deck gaming handheld should be a winner. Valve’s PC-centric Nintendo Switch rival features a big 7-inch touchscreen, plenty of control inputs, an all-AMD chip based on the same hardware inside the Xbox Series S|X and PlayStation 5, and the ability to double as a full-fledged Linux PC. But forget the hardware. While it’s impressive indeed, the Steam Deck will sink or swim based on its software, and that means Valve awesome Proton technology is about to be thrust into the spotlight.

The Steam Deck will sprint to a larger software library than most gaming handhelds because you’ll be able to tap into decades of existing PC games through your Steam account, rather than having to wait for new releases made specifically for the fresh hardware. But most of those games were created for Windows, and the Steam Deck runs on Valve’s Linux-based SteamOS operating system instead. Proton (via Steam Play) lets Windows games run on Linux. It works very well much of the time, but it’s not perfect—and the Steam Deck’s success probably depends on just how much Valve can polish up Proton before the handheld’s December launch.

Here’s a high-level look at what you need to know about Proton, the Steam Deck’s secret software sauce.

At a high level, Proton is a compatibility layer that allows Windows games to run on Linux-based operating systems (such as the Steam Deck’s SteamOS). In the past, playing PC games on Linux required you to run Steam games through software called Wine (an acronym for “Wine is not an emulator.”). Valve worked with CodeWeavers developers to build Proton as a fork of Wine, then baked the technology right into Steam itself as part of Steam Play, the company’s “buy once, play on any PC platform” endeavor.

Hey Valve: This should just work, with Proton support activated by default on the Steam Deck.

Currently, Steam for Linux does not flip on Proton by default. You need to manually enable it or stick to games that offer a native Linux port. Considering how few games offer native Linux versions, we’re strongly hoping Valve makes Proton/Steam Play enabled by default on the Steam Deck, or there will be a lot of unhappy customers.

If you’re already using Linux, you can turn on Proton by opening your Steam settings and clicking on the “Steam Play” option at the bottom of the navigation pane. (The option won’t be visible on Windows PCs.) There, you’ll see a box you can check to “Enable Steam Play for supported titles.” That turns on Proton for games confirmed to work well with the technology, added to a whitelist by Valve. You’ll also see an advanced option to “Enable Steam Play for all other titles,” which will flip on Proton for everything after you restart the client.

Will all games work? That’s the million dollar question.

Notice that none of the games in this Steam Deck promotional image are massively popular multiplayer titles.

Valve has been steadily improving Proton ever since it launched in 2018, and many—most, even—Windows games run pretty well via Steam Play with little to no tinkering. Your best resource for determining how a game runs is the utterly fantastic ProtonDB, a community-made treasure trove of information that currently tracks almost 19,000 games, of which over 15,000 work on Linux. The site also maintains a very helpful troubleshooting FAQ for Proton games. (Be sure to leave reports of your own if you use Proton and Steam Play!)

As those numbers indicate, some games are just plain “borked” on Linux, to borrow ProtonDB’s term. The most common casualties? Sadly, the most popular games around—battle royale games and esports titles. Proton’s compatibility layer tweaks don’t play nice with the anti-cheat software deployed in widely played online games. Valve made sure to get its own Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Team Fortress 2 running on Linux, but heavy hitters like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Rainbow Six Siege, Apex Legends, and Destiny 2 won’t run.

The ProtonDB homepage on July 16, 2021 includes compatibility stats on the most-played games.

That’s a massive bummer, and as you can see from the ProtonDB stats about game compatibility above, it means that many of the most popular games in the world couldn’t be played on a Steam Deck currently. (Notice how the percentage of red “borked” games in the top ten is much, much, much higher than in the top 100 and top 1000—that’s because those multiplayer games dominate the top-played charts.)

Valve seemingly understands what a huge roadblock this could be. In a Steam Deck FAQ for developers hoping to get their games running well on Proton, Valve states that “We’re working with BattlEye and EAC to get support for Proton ahead of launch.”

If Valve manages to get BattlEye and Easy Anti-Cheat playing nice with Proton, the Steam Deck will launch with its biggest hurdle already cleared, and Linux gamers around the globe will rejoice. If not, though, the Steam Deck will probably be relegated to being a device devoted to singleplayer and indie games, or only useful to folks willing to install Windows on it instead—not a bad niche, to be sure, but not one that will set the world ablaze either.

All the appealing hardware and just-as-appealing prices won’t matter if PC gamers can’t play their favorite games on Valve’s handheld. As a general consumer device, the Steam Deck will live or die on the back on Proton—and whether Steam Play can indeed coax anti-cheat makers into supporting it. Fingers crossed.

Senior editor Brad Chacos covers gaming and graphics for PCWorld, and runs the morning news desk for PCWorld, Macworld, Greenbot, and TechHive. He tweets too.

PCWorld helps you navigate the PC ecosystem to find the products you want and the advice you need to get the job done.

HTML holes provide a glimpse of Steam Deck’s initial preorder numbers

Ars Technica 16 July, 2021 - 03:02pm

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Though Valve is fiercely protective of its PC game sales data, a rare HTML hole in its Steam service revealed apparently firm order numbers for the Steam Deck, the company's recently confirmed Switch-like portable gaming PC.

Djundik's count was limited to Steam Deck's pricier SKUs, so the estimate doesn't account for sales of the cheapest, $399 version (which comes with 64GB of onboard storage). His count, as backed up by other users' image captures of sales data through the preorder period's first 90 minutes, boils down as follows:

Other users have chimed in to count close to 10,000 64GB model preorders from North America, with other regions' 64GB counts remaining unclear.

As of press time, all three models are still available for preorder. However, only buyers in the very beginning of the preorder period could guarantee hardware arriving as early as "December 2021." Valve is continuing to accept preorders, with shipment estimates bumped to "Q1 2022" for the 64GB and 256GB models and "Q2 2022" for the 512GB model.

Still, even after a frantic opening to the Steam Deck preorder process, the company is happily accepting as many orders as customers want to make, so long as they're willing to get in line for more models to be produced. All preorders between now and Sunday, July 18, require a Steam account in "good standing," which is verified by any purchase made through Steam by June 2021. Once Sunday rolls around, anyone can place an order via Steam.

This process differs from the endless availability song-and-dance we've seen from consoles by Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, which tends to revolve around variable amounts of stock opening up at third-party retailers. Sony and Microsoft's own direct-sales options are similarly scattershot, though Xbox All Access is among the most scalper-proof options on the market. It requires attaching a buyer's Xbox account credentials, and its layaway price model includes a Game Pass Ultimate subscription.

That count of over 110,000 preorders came amid an apparent server maelstrom, as the earliest Steam Deck shoppers ran into error messages and emotional cartoon mascots. Worse, some would-be buyers were met by the insulting claim that they had "been attempting a lot of purchases in the last few hours"—likely due to the site itself telling users to refresh its error-filled pages. Getting to the latter error punted a user to the back of the line.

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Gabe Newell Describes Steam Deck's Price As 'Painful' For Valve

Kotaku 15 July, 2021 - 03:30pm

Newell, who much like Sauron rules over his company from New Zealand, said in an interview with IGN that the biggest priority was making sure that Steam Deck is intuitive and performs well, with price “secondary” to that and “painful” as a result.

Valve hardware director Shreya Liu echoed Newell’s point, saying that price was key from the get-go. “We knew that the price point was very important, so [...] from the beginning, we designed with that in mind, and we worked very, very hard to achieve the price point that we’re at,” Liu told IGN.

Newell went on to explain that Valve wants this to be the start of something bigger, and that means being “very aggressive” in how it establishes itself in the mobile space.

“Nobody has ever said, ‘Oh, we have a giant success where clearly there’s huge demand for this, but our margins are too thin.’ Right? And a lot of people have overpriced things and killed the opportunity, and sort of convince people that it’s an uninteresting category from the get-go,” Newell said. “We’re doing this for the long haul. And there’s a lot of opportunity.”

This is an especially interesting remark to hear coming from Newell, given that you could argue his company basically did exactly what he’s describing with its VR headsets, first in conjunction with HTC and then on its own. The Valve Index is perhaps the strongest argument in favor of VR ever conceived—at least, from an experiential standpoint—but with its $1,000 price point, it’s a luxury item. Granted, there are many, many other reasons that VR remains a niche at this point, but that’s certainly a contributing factor.

That said, let’s not put the horse before the cart when it comes to ogling the Steam Deck’s price tag. Sure, the base model is $399, but it comes with a puny 64GB of eMMC storage. There are countless individual Steam games that take up more space than that. There’s a reason Steam includes an option to organize your library by “size on disk,” after all. Once you start tacking on more storage space, you immediately enter pricier territory; Steam Deck’s 256GB NVMe model will cost $529, and the 512GB version, said to have an even faster NVMe drive, will cost $649. In the grand scheme of gaming PCs, that’s still not terrible, but it puts the non-diet version of the handheld out of reach for some.

That said, as with the Switch, micro SD cards are an option, so that’s something. Good thing, too; we’re gonna need extra space on our Steam Decks for all the games we’re apparently gonna be able to buy from the Epic Store.

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