Steam Deck at 30fps is the minimum that Valve will "consider playable"

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Rock Paper Shotgun 26 July, 2021 - 11:32am 64 views

Opinion: The Steam Deck Queue Showed How Companies Can Fight Against Hardware Scalpers - IGN

IGN 26 July, 2021 - 03:10pm

So, when Valve announced the Steam Deck, I, and I’m sure many others, imagined the same hellish cycle would once again play out: Valve would announce the product’s release date and MSRP, followed by details on when and where to preorder, and chaos would ensue from there. While, yes, the initial part of the process went as expected, Valve also found a more efficient way to ensure less stress in securing its new gaming hardware, the Steam Deck, while also starting to combat the biggest challenge facing many looking to buy a PS5, Xbox Series X/S or a new GPU: scalpers.

Between an ongoing chip shortage, a global pandemic that has caused most of these high-ticket items to be sold mostly online or in select in-store locations through specific means, combined with unprecedented demand, it seemed, at first, that Valve’s portable gaming PC was to have a similar fate.

Thankfully, Valve’s approach with the Steam Deck queue system demonstrated a number of smart choices that made buying this high-ticket gaming hardware much simpler for actually interested buyers than the rest of the recent crop.

The Steam Deck queue system mandating that accounts purchased something before June 2021 would theoretically prevent any scalpers from just making an account on the day to buy a system. Compare that to other retailers, such as Amazon and Best Buy, where an account is not required to purchase something. Valve also required you to be logged into a Steam account to check for preorder reservations; you could not simply go onto Steam on a web browser and make the reservation for all three models of the Steam Deck. Each Steam account was locked down to one model that you placed $5 on to ensure you had a reservation for when Valve eventually opened up full-fledged preorders at a later date.

All of these precautions are worth analyzing in the context of where the Steam Deck was being sold. Unlike other high-ticket gaming hardware, the Steam Deck was sold exclusively on Steam, whereas the other products were being sold at multiple third-party retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, Game Stop, and/or Target, alongside first-party retail outlets like the PlayStation Direct service Sony used for the PS5. Even so, these retailers could learn something from Valve’s implementations.

Sure, some of them are already taking measures, such as GameStop’s PS5/Xbox Series X/S bundles being sold sometimes to only Pro members or Best Buy giving out tickets on the rare occasions it has done in-store RTX 30 restocks. (Granted, people are prone to camp out to ensure they can get one in that case.) But Valve’s protocols make requirements like users needing accounts for online storefronts seem like easy fixes that could be implemented across the board, no matter whether a seller is first- or third-party.

Of course, you do not have to go to a retailer like Walmart to buy a PS5 or Xbox Series X/S. Both Microsoft and Sony have been known to sell its product on their own, respective storefronts. You can very much get lucky one day and buy an Xbox Series X or Series S console. However, like most retailers, Microsoft does unannounced drops, meaning you either have to be at the right place at the right time or have some type of another notification system that keeps an eye on restocks when you don’t have the bandwidth to do so.

Sony’s Direct service is a bit different, as it uses a virtual line queue, which unfortunately means timing can again be a factor since reservations are not always open like with the Steam Deck, but it does at least allow Sony to directly reach out to PlayStation users and offer a chance to purchase a system.

Will scalpers always exist? Yes, so long as highly anticipated items are sold online in any capacity. But the Steam Deck’s queue system showed us there is a better way to ensure there is somewhat more of an even playing field when it comes to preorder opportunities for these expensive but highly in-demand items. Hopefully, some of these lessons can be learned before the PS6 and Xbox Series XX come to market. As preordering becomes more of a norm and the internet becoming a better way to distribute units to order compared to dividing a limited supply of units across various stores, it is time for retailers to implement a better moderation system and stop making it easier for scalpers to control the supply of many high-ticket items. And Valve just demonstrated some of the simple but important measures that can be taken to achieve just that.

Valve Says It Hasn't Found A Game That The Steam Deck Can't Handle

Kotaku 25 July, 2021 - 11:20am

Announced on July 15, the Steam Deck is Valve’s Switch-like portable PC that will allow people to play most of their Steam library anywhere. It can also be connected to a TV or a monitor to be used as a more console-like device or a more traditional PC. It comes in three flavors and starts at $400, with the middle-of-pack version that includes faster storage going for $530 and a high-end version of the device with more storage and anti-glare glass selling for $650. It’s planned to release in December 2021.

Read More: The Steam Deck Is Built To Avoid Stick Drift

In an interview with IGN, designers and programmers at Valve explained that after years of testing and developing the hardware the Steam Deck has reached a level of performance that might surprise some folks.

“We’ve been looking at various games over the past few years in the back catalog,” said Valve coder Pierre-Loup Griffais. “But the real test for us was games that were coming out last year. They just couldn’t really run very well on the previous types of prototypes and architectures we were testing.”

“We haven’t really found something that we could throw at this device that it couldn’t handle,” Griffais explained.

However, in that video interview with IGN, it’s mentioned that Steam Deck is targeting 30 fps gameplay on its 800p display. This caught the eye of some performance-focused folks, who worried that the Steam Deck would struggle to run games above 30 fps, effectively losing one of the advantages of PC gaming: high-framerates.

But Griffais later explained on Twitter more details about what level of performance to expect from Valve’s portable PC and what that 30 fps target means.

“The ‘30 FPS target’ refers to the floor of what we consider playable in our performance testing,” he tweeted. “Games we’ve tested and shown have consistently met and exceeded that bar so far.”

He also explained that the Steam Deck will include an optional fps limiter that will allow players to fine-tune the balance between performance and battery life, as higher framerates will use up more energy because it demands more from the hardware.

It’s good news for folks who are planning to pick up the Steam Deck, but until we actually have the device in our hands we can’t know for sure how well everything will run and if some games will be bigger battery killers than others.

The Steam Deck is out this December and the base version of the device starts at $400.

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