With the Steam Deck announced for December 2021, much of the gaming industry is now deciding on whether or not they need a handheld machine that will be able to access their Steam libraries later this year. It’s a valid question to be sure, especially considering handheld PC concepts in the past have usually gone over $1,000. The Steam Deck, conversely, starts at $399 and runs up to $649 for a souped-up model. It wasn’t an easy price to arrive at, but Gabe Newell recently claimed he hopes the Steam Deck and its price will help spur and cultivate a market of third-party handheld PCs.
Speaking directly with IGN on a myriad of topics regarding the recently revealed Steam Deck, Gabe Newell revealed that the price point was a contentious topic. However, Valve eventually arrived at a low-price decision with hopes that it will incite good long-term consequences for the market. It’s a price that Newell described as painfu, but critical.
“Our view is, if we're doing this right, that we're going to be selling these in millions of units," Newell explained. “And it's clearly going to be establishing a product category that ourselves and other PC manufacturers are going to be able to participate in. And that's going to have long-term benefits for us. So that's sort of the frame in which we're thinking about this.”
Indeed, we have seen plenty of interesting concepts in the past, including a very promising one by Alienware in the form of the Concept UFO at CES 2020, but anything on the market has usually had a massively unappealing price tag to go along with it, especially in comparison to the less powerful, but still far more acceptable Nintendo Switch. Even the upcoming Switch OLED will only run buyers $349. That said, the Steam Deck starts at $399 for a 64GB storage device that can access Steam. The more buff versions contain NVMe-powered 256GB and 512GB SSDs, respectively priced at $529 and $629. No matter how one looks at it, those price points are all far more attractive and make the Steam Deck an actual question for a lot of buyers and PC gaming fans.
It will remain to be seen if the Steam Deck can spur a third-party market to invest more deeply into an affordable handheld PC scene like Valve and Gabe Newell want, but at the very least, the Steam Deck is looking like a very interesting newcomer in 2021’s holiday gaming market.