I’m excited for the Steam Deck – so here are five reasons why you should be too.
Put simply, the Steam Deck is poised to be a more powerful Nintendo Switch alternative. The screen is bigger and yes, it is heavier, but the hardware it packs into that small package is pretty impressive. It’s got an AMD Zen 2 CPU that maxes out at 3.5GHz, 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, a custom RDNA GPU that maxes out at 1.6GHz, and all of this actually puts the performance closer to that of the PS5 and Xbox Series X than that of the Switch.
I don’t mean to bash the Switch – I love the thing – but it’s about time we get a handheld with some proper hardware to it that doesn’t need to compromise so much performance. And of course, there’s also the multitude of input options here, including gyro, trackpads, and a full set of programmable buttons. I am a big fan of the Steam Controller and have used it for everything from JRPGs to visual novels to even fighting games, so I’m very excited to see what Valve has in store for us with the controls on the Steam Deck.
So I know this may seem like a given, but it’s still a point worth being made. Steam has a massive library and, while the Deck runs a custom version of Linux and may not have 100% compatibility with that library, it still has access to a massive chunk of it. I myself have a Steam library of over 5000 games, mostly fueled by bundle purchases and Steam key resellers like Gamesplanet – which if you haven’t heard of, definitely give them a look. They’re an official reseller and often have Steam games far under the normal price – I have a partner link in the description you can check out if you’re interested.
But anyways, it is definitely not a platform I’ll need to ever worry about stocking up games for. With all the Steam sales and all these great games on PC, there will be no shortage of stuff to play and I’m already looking forward to using the Deck to finish up my playthroughs of games like Hades, HuniePop 2, and Grime along with starting some new stuff that I feel would be the perfect fit for the handheld, like Psychonauts 2, Omori, and Little Nightmares 2.
Granted, maybe it isn’t your Steam library that has all the stuff, maybe it’s on GOG or through Xbox Game Pass and that brings me to the next point…
Since the Steam Deck is effectively a portable computer, you are not locked into its custom version of Linux. If you want, you can just as easily swap it out for Windows and Valve has even made preparations to make sure its ready for the upcoming Windows 11. Not only does this open up the handheld to virtually all of the Steam library with no restrictions, but this means you can use ALL of your different game libraries.
Origin, GOG, Game Pass, Twitch, Uplay, itch.io – there’s a lot of possibilities there and I actually use this handy little program on my desktop called Playnite to manage them all. Within Playnite, I have just under 9000 games available, so that is definitely something I’m going to try out on the Steam Deck – I might even set up dual boot to swap between the two.
The Steam Deck might just be the best thing to happen to emulation in a long time. You got this beefy handheld and all that, but with two key features: microSD support and the fact that Retroarch is available on the Steam store as of last week. For those that don’t know, Retroarch is an emulation frontend that consolidates all of your different emulators under one, streamlined system – so you don’t have to constantly adjust controls, display settings, ROM paths, and all of that. Instead, you just dump your ROMs into a folder, boot up Retroarch, and tell it what core to load the ROM with.
The microSD support makes this even better, as you can effectively load up a library of hundreds or even thousands of ROMs for all sorts of different systems and, using the specs of the Steam Deck, run them at 100% accuracy through Retroarch – all without needing to swap the OS over to Windows (Retroarch can run natively in Linux). So not only do you get this massive Steam library, but any and all ROMs you may want to run as well – it’s pretty much a godsend for emulation fans.
It wouldn’t be a video of mine if I didn’t mention this genre in some from and the Steam Deck is, yet again, the perfect platform for it. Yeah, the Switch has a lot of visual novels of its own (some of which are exclusive), but any decent VN fan will know that the vast, VAST majority of them run on Windows and a lot of them are even available right from Steam. It’s the type of genre that is perfect for a “pick up and go” kinda play style and when I use my Switch for them, I swap between my desktop, my TV in the other room, my kitchen table, or really anywhere when I’m not at home.
The Steam Deck is looking like it might end up being my primary platform for the genre and it would have been super nice to have during my recent playthrough of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. Whatever the case, I’m already looking forward to playing through the likes of Clannad, Danganronpa V3, and Baldr Sky using it.
And that’ll wrap up my short, dumb list I made because I’m a bit excited about getting my hand on one of these once they come out early next year. My biggest fear is how comfortable the thing will be to hold, but if the Steam Controller is any indication, then it should be fine. I’ll probably end up talking about the Steam Deck again closer to release, maybe even a review on it.