Somewhat unexpectedly, Valve today announced its upcoming new hardware called Steam Deck, which will actually be a console-like portable PC. Looking at the success of the Switch and knowing the innovations of Valve, the concept is quite promising, but we had some questions for developers to see more clearly what Steam Deck will be capable of. The answers are given to us by one of the machine’s designers, Pierre-Loup Griffis, Greg Coomer and Lawrence Yang!
IGN: First of all: exactly what kind of hardware is in the machine? What exactly is a Steam Deck?
Pierre-Loup Griffais: It includes a quad-core AMD Zen 2 CPU with eight threads and an RDNA2 GPU with eight computing units (CUs). These are all the latest architectures.
IGN: How much RAM is in it?
Pierre-Loup Griffais: 16 GB LPDDR5 RAM.
IGN: What can we expect in terms of storage?
Lawrence Yang: There will be three machine models equipped with 64, 256 and 512 GB.
IGN: Can storage be expanded?
Lawrence Yang: Internal storage doesn’t, but each model will have an SD card reader, so you can expand them with an SD card the size you want, whenever you want. And you can install games on them and run them from an external SD card.
IGN: And what about the tide?
Pierre-Loup Griffais: The 64GB will be $ 399, the 256GB will be $ 529, and the 512GB will be $ 649.
IGN: Will there be a difference in performance between the models as well?
Pierre-Loup Griffais: Yes, the two more expensive models will have NVMe SSDs with faster write and read speeds.
IGN: Then let’s see the screen! What are we going to play?
Greg Coomer: There will be a 7-inch 720p panel in the machine.
Pierre-Loup Griffais: The aspect ratio is 16:10, so the exact resolution will actually be 1280×800. The A512GB version also gets a premium anti-glare interface.
IGN: How long will the battery last? This is a big question for any portable machine.
IGN: What will we find in the Steam Deck box?
Lawrence Yang: The Deck itself and a power adapter and carrying case next to it.
IGN: Is there a built-in microphone in the machine for multis chat?
Pierre-Loup Griffais: Igen.
IGN: Does it have a mobile data connection, or can we only download games connected to a Wi-Fi network?
Pierre-Loup Griffais: Wi-Fi only.
IGN: Does it have a feature that changed the brightness of the machine according to the ambient light effects?
Lawrence Yang: Igen, van.
IGN: What operating system is running on it?
Pierre-Loup Griffais: A new version of SteamOS.
IGN: Is it just playable with this device, or do other apps run on it?
Pierre-Loup Griffais: Basically, everything starts on it, which is on a traditional PC.
IGN: So can I browse, say, the IGN site?
Pierre-Loup Griffais: Of course
IGN: Does it have some dock so we can play it on a bigger screen?
Greg Coomer: Yeah, he’s getting a dock. We will sell this separately.
IGN: Does that already have an exact price?
Greg Coomer: We can’t say that yet.
IGN: All right. But will it be available from the day the machine is released?
Greg Coomer: We can’t say that yet.
Pierre-Loup Griffais: There are plenty of existing solutions for this right now that I don’t think will provide that experience as a dock but perform similarly.
Lawrence Yang: Any USB-C now available that you find on store shelves will be compatible with it, but it will also have USB, Ethernet and HDMI ports on it. Everything you would expect from a dock
IGN: What peripherals can be used with Steam Deck? Do controllers work with it, for example?
Greg Coomer: Anything that can be connected via USB or Bluetooth will work on Steam Deck. And it also has a USB-C connection.
IGN: Excellent! For example, we’ve already learned that Apple AirPods worked with it. This eliminates the need for other Bluetooth-enabled audio devices.
Pierre-Loup Griffais: That’s right.
IGN: Can we play it in VR?
Pierre-Loup Griffais: In the end, he added every opportunity. But there’s a lot of work to be done on optimization, and we didn’t shoot Steam Deck’s performance for that.
IGN: So we can try it, but the performance will be very variable.
Pierre-Loup Griffais: Somehow so.
IGN: Can we change the graphics settings on Steam Deck ourselves, or will it have some specific, predefined profile that you shot for machine performance?
Pierre-Loup Griffais: All the options you get for an average PC game are also available on Steam Deck. Still, most games start with fairly balanced graphics settings that will work very well on Steam Deck.
IGN: Can hardware components, and I’m not thinking about storage here right now, be developed in any way on the machine?
Pierre-Loup Griffais: Not really, because of the compact size of the machine. We took great advantage of every little space in it.
IGN: Can we sign in to our Epic Games Store account?
Greg Coomer: Everything a Linux-based PC can do, Steam Deck will know. So the answer is yes.
IGN: What about mod support?
Greg Coomer: The same answer is yes because the mods also work on a normal PC. We have built this machine to support all such functions.
Pierre-Loup Griffais: It runs the same SteamOS that is currently on Steam. Only the user interface and controls are different. So the same features, so the team workshop, the built-in mode support will all be available on Steam Deck.
IGN: And what about multiplayer? How does it work on this device? Will it just be local or something?
Lawrence Yang: Same situation with any other PC. It has a connection, so you can play multiplayer games and connect multiple controllers to the machine locally. Everything you would expect from such a machine works on it.
IGN: So a split-screen multi requires nothing more than a second controller with a Bluetooth connection?
Pierre-Loup Griffais: Or a phone and Steam remote play app
IGN: What extra buttons can we find on the Steam Deck?
Pierre-Loup Griffais: There are four extra buttons on the back that are programmable.
IGN: Won’t there be a problem with supplies? The industry is currently struggling with a shortage of ships worldwide, and the winners are buying up even those few next-generation machines with sticks. Will Steam Deck be enough to meet customer needs?
Greg Coomer: We’ve created a booking system that we’ll be launching shortly after the announcement. However, we now believe that we will not produce as many copies at once as we hope will be in demand in the next year or two.
Greg Coomer: So when the Steam Deck becomes available, the finished pieces can be booked, so you have to expect a line-up system
IGN: What is the life cycle of thinking about Steam Deck? How many years can you plan with it? Will it be, say, version 2.0 in a few years? For example, can other hardware vendors use this SteamOS system to dream their own versions with other hardware? Does Valve view Steam Deck as a platform?
Greg Coomer: We look at it as a whole new category of devices in PC space. And assuming customers agree with us that this is a good idea, we expect to produce additional iterations ourselves in the future and other people, other manufacturers.
Pierre-Loup Griffais: All the technology, operating system, and all the building blocks we’ve been working on in recent years mean that Steam Deck will be available for free to those who want to build such devices as well.
Lawrence Yang: We want to assure everyone that SteamOS 3 can be licensed for free and for any manufacturer who wants to produce a similar product.