As anyone who has tried to purchase a gaming console, GPU, pair of sneakers, or any other desirable item in the last couple of years can attest, this stuff never works. Pre-orders for Valve’s Steam Deck handheld were scheduled to open today for established Steam accounts in good standing. Once the gates opened on the pre-sale, chaos ensued as many fans were unable to add the device to their virtual carts, receiving various errors. One error message even blocked users from adding the Steam Deck to their carts after erroneously declaring the accounts to be too new.
It was almost a certainty that the Steam Deck would be a hot ticket item. It combines some rather beefy internal hardware in a portable package without many of the restrictions placed on conventional consoles and handhelds. While users can operate the Steam Deck as a portable gaming PC using Valve SteamOS, there will be no restrictions on loading other operating systems or connecting third-party peripherals. The Steam Deck's design offers the portability of the Nintendo Switch without sacrificing the functionality of a desktop PC.
Based on the included specs, the Steam Deck is almost certainly being sold at a loss. Gabe Newell spoke with IGN about the Steam Deck's pricing and said settling at $399 USD was "painful." With nearly any capable PC gaming hardware being tough to source at a reasonable price over the last year, the chance to score a value like the Steam Deck proved to be strong. Fulfillment estimates for the various Steam Deck models already slipped to Q2 2022 within the first hour of the pre-order period.
While it is possible that Valve's new handheld could usher in a new era of affordable and portable PC gaming, that future can't exist until customers can easily purchase the thing.