Valve “wasn’t interested” in creating a Steam Deck that only played poorly performing games.


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Since the Steam Deck was first unveiled last month, Valve has said one of its main design goals is to make sure it can read the entire Steam catalog, including games. of the last 12 months. It’s a tall order for such a small device, but speaking to Steam Deck designers Greg Coomer and Lawrence Yang on Zoom last week, it’s clear the team never really considered another option. “While we discussed which versions of the device would be more suitable for, say, lesser-performing games, that was never really a big focus of our work,” Coomer tells me. “It wasn’t really interesting for a lot of the people who work here.”

Steam Deck designer Lawrence Yang agrees: “Yes, we wanted a device powerful enough to handle whatever you throw at it, and if you wanted to play a super high fidelity game, you could,” he said, echoing comments from Valve boss Gabe Newell late last month about finally giving PC gamers a great mobile hardware option.

The thing is, “[putting] the Steam Catalog First “was easier said than done, and without AMD’s latest line of low-power, high-performance APUs, the Steam Deck might not have seen the light of day at all this time. year.

“We’ve been discussing a device like this for a number of years,” Coomer explains, “even back in the days when we were primarily focusing on things like the Steam Controller or a streaming device. But a bunch of things had to go. ‘first be realized so that it will be viable in our eyes.

“We weren’t really interested in creating a portable device that couldn’t play all the games on Steam. of a PC-like solution – but that would have diverged far enough from a device basically designed to play the games that were already on Steam. So, it wasn’t until recently when we worked with AMD that we really thought it was possible to bring to market a product that had the performance envelope that was correct for playing the latest triple-A games. and do it really well, and do it in a small form factor without, you know, melting – and we’re really happy with what we’ve been able to achieve. If we had tried to do it a few years ago it would have been much more difficult. “

It wasn’t just AMD’s hardware that was key to getting Steam Deck off the ground. Valve also learned a lot from their failing steam engines in creating the Steam Deck, and their work in making controllers for their Index VR headset also helped ensure that the Deck’s analog sticks are completely free from the dreaded drift of the Deck. sticks.

There’s more to come from my conversation with Coomer and Yang, so keep an eye out for Steam Deck news later this week.

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