Top 10 Reasons Why Steam Deck Might Be a Disappointment

Tags: #Valve ,   #SteamDeck ,   #PortableGaming ,   #Steam ,   #Handheld ,   #Steamgames

Dan N. Scarborough

Dan N. Scarborough

Last updated:  2023-05-22 14:55:08

Valve is a company trying to bring innovation to the gaming world. At first, they were creating revolutionary games, followed by a digital distribution service, Steam. However, in the current stage, Valve Steam Deck gaming is marketed as a revolution. This mobile device allows you to play your Steam collection on the move and the initial Valve Steam Deck review quotes are positive. The idea of accessing your Steam games on the go is very appealing, but we are not sure Steam Deck will work as intended. For that purpose, we pointed out top ten reasons for Steam Deck's eventual failure.

10. Valve's Hardware History

Valve wasn't very lucky with its hardware

Valve's history of hardware releases has been pretty poor so far. The devices like Steam Controller, Steam Link, Steam Machines, were all revolutionary products. Still, they didn't pass the test of time. Consequently, they were all discontinued a couple of years after release. 

Surprisingly, Valve's only hardware success was Valve Index, a high-end VR headset. Yet, the device takes only 11% of the VR headset market. This shows that the company doesn't have a great track record with making long-standing hardware products.   

9. SteamOS Compatibility

SteamOS isn't a very approachable OS

Steam Deck uses an operating system called SteamOS, a custom version of Arch Linux made for Steam. This means that if you want to play games on Steam Deck, there are two possible ways. Option one, you'll need a native Linux game port, but know that they are infrequent. 

Option two, you'll have to use a built-in compatibility layer called Proton. The problem with Proton is that not all games are compatible with it, so use ProtonDB for more info. So far, there are more than 15.000 compatible games, but PUBG or Apex Legends aren't among them. Similarly, games like Elden Ring did work on day one, but not without many problems.

8. Release Delays

Staggered release could stagger the sales

We're unsure if you know this, but Steam Deck will have a staggered release. What does it mean? Well, if you were fortunate enough to reserve your Steam Deck unit right after it was announced, you paid a $5 reservation fee in front. Once the shipping time comes, you need to shell out the rest. However, if you reserved Steam Deck at the beginning of 2022, you would get the second quarter of 2022 as the delivery date. 

However, some people have to wait significantly more. Because of this long release time window, the hype for the new product is greatly diminished. Accordingly, some people will receive a Steam Deck earlier, and their reviews will decide the device's destiny. There's a reasonable concern that it will go out of fashion before establishing a solid player base.

7. Confusion About Upgrades

Upgrade or not to upgrade?

There's been a lot of confusion about the ability to upgrade Steam Deck. This especially works for Steam Deck's solid-state drive. There's an M2 slot in every Steam Deck, which can be user-replaceable. However, you'll do that at your own risk, as Valve doesn't guarantee any repair or replacement if you ruin your Steam Deck that way. 

Valve didn't advertise the ability to upgrade your Steam Deck, nor did it demonstrate the ways to do it. Showing that would likely increase the popularity of Steam Deck. Yet, Valve's ambiguous declaration about upgrade potential will probably harm the sales. Certainly, you can upgrade your memory by using microSD cards, but the majority of players would still prefer installing the bigger solid-state drive.    

6. Weight

Steam Deck weighs like a brick

Steam Deck weighs a whopping 669 grams! Compared with other handheld consoles, Switch with Joy-Cons is 398 grams, so there's an almost 300 g difference between the two. Furthermore, you can hold Switch with Joy-Cons and Nintendo 3DS (though we don't know why), and you will still have a lighter contraption in your hands than with Steam Deck. 

Ultimately, Valve Steam Deck gaming might be seriously uncomfortable. If you ever held Switch for a long time, you noticed that your hands got tired after approximately an hour or so. Therefore, being so heavy might damage the portability potential of Steam Deck. Add battery life to that, and you might get the first home handheld console. Of course, you can also use Steam Deck dock via HDMI 1.4.

5. Controls

Control scheme is very weird

Steam Deck has a pretty innovative controller design with a symmetrical layout. This includes two trackpads on each side of the screen, two analog sticks, and the usual direction pad and face buttons. Although it looks nice, it doesn't seem very comfortable, as pads and face buttons seem too far away from the trackpad. So you'll likely have to stretch your thumbs. 

Valve tried to place trackpads where face buttons and joypads should have been. It is hard to tell how it would actually feel, but it seems that there were some compromises in the design of the controller scheme. Also, we're not sure how convenient it would be to play PC games this way.

4. Competing Against PC

All PC can do, but worse

Being a handheld device, it is expected that Steam Deck was made to be a competition to other handheld consoles like Nintendo Switch. After all, it's apparent that Steam Deck took a lot from its design. However, it's more likely that the real competition are the other PC devices

Hence, people who would buy a portable PC gadget would also already own a desktop PC. So if you want to play your games, you have a choice to do that on your quite comfortable PC or try an experimental portable device. In Steam Deck promo videos, we learned about the ability to connect PC peripherals and use it as an actual PC. We just wonder who would actually play Steam Deck like that.  

3. Too Specific Audience

Niche is well when customers are loyal

It's apparent that Valve conceived Steam Deck as a product everyone would want to buy. Thanks to the excellent advertising campaign, Steam Deck will have projected sales measured in hundreds of thousands of units. The question is, is that really a success? 

These numbers look like a niche in terms of handheld devices, where stats are measured in millions. Of course, there's nothing wrong with being niche, as long as your projected customer demography is faithful. Unfortunately, Steam Deck is available to buy only on Steam. Therefore, we aren't sure if we'll see it in brick and mortar stores next to the Nintendo Switch and similar handhelds. The lack of a retail presence might relegate Steam Deck to the niche category.

2. Price

A lot better options for that money

Steam Deck comes with a hefty price of €350, which is close to $500. For a handheld, that's too much. Even if we consider it a portable gaming PC, the Valve Steam Deck specs aren't good enough to justify a price that high. For example, Steam Deck has only 64 GB of storage which isn't nearly enough for "serious" gaming. For example, that's not enough space to install Forza Horizon 5 or Cyberpunk 2077.

Furthermore, it's highly unlikely anyone would play CS: GO in multiplayer on Steam Deck. If you're ok with playing one game at a time or focusing on indie releases, go for Steam Deck. Be aware, though, for the same money, you could get a digital PS5, the new Xbox, or a top-shelf gaming PC without GPU.  

1. Portability 

Is portability really that attractive?

Yes, portability was a great selling point 20 years ago. Nowadays, we're not so sure about that. Sure, the PSP was huge in 2005, but its direct descendant, PS Vita, was a colossal failure. If we asked a number of people, say thousand, about what kind of gaming they would prefer, home or mobile, the majority would opt for home. The peripherals are much more comfortable, the hardware is better, there's a huge screen and speakers, making it a superior experience. 

Portable gaming is all but dead, and yet, Steam Deck uses it as the main attraction. Consequently, that might backfire really hard. Dedicated handheld consoles are a thing of the past, especially after the popularization of smartphones. When smartphones can do anything computers can, it's a bit weird to launch a pure handheld gaming device. 

Steam Deck is coming, and we're all waiting for it shivering with anticipation. Although we wish all the best to the new Valve product, we can't help but think about all the reasons Steam Deck would go wrong. As our top ten list shows, there are chances Steam Deck will become a cautionary tale told on gaming expos as a warning to all hardware makers.

Do you think Steam Deck will be a success? What games would you like to play on it?

Cover photo: YouTube screenshot



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Warrior92 Says:

It seems to me that this device won't ever become mainstream but may bring some steady income to Valve.

August 17 at 09:12:20 AM

nWO Forever Says:

And apparently, you can't use when its close to 100F :/ It feels like Deck will remain a niche device, like Steam Machines or Steam Controller.

July 22 at 03:35:53 PM

Dimitri Says:

Basically, it's like a laptop - you can't upgrade it much, if at all. For a PC gaming device, that's a fatal flaw. No thanx

June 16 at 08:10:23 AM

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