“It’s something, personally as a player, I’ve wanted for a long time, you know? As soon as you start playing PC games you are worth, I want something that offers me all the loyalty of experience with great control and can Use as a laptop ‘. The first time I wanted something like that was there for the nineties, when I started playing PC games. “

Gabe Newell is, the truth, quite excited with Steam Deck. After a small delay and a lot, a lot of anticipation from the public, the portable PC of the American company is already finally between us, and very probably the most exciting hardware of Valve to date. Or at least the most exciting Valve hardware since the last time, when they announced some Steam Machines that generated a lot of anticipation in his ad 2013, but they never took to take off even that Valve affirmed the public that the platform was not entirely dead Just three years after the machines were on sale in 2015.

The interest in Steam Deck contrasts with the indifference with which Steam Machines was welcomed then, but the new machine is not really very different in its approach. In fact, Steam Deck is simply an extension of work that was done with the introduction of Big Picture mode that seated the foundations for Steam Machines and a game repositioning on PC away from the desk.

“I think about everything we have tried to do as a kind of block,” Newell argues at the time of speaking of how Steam Machines sat the bases for Steam Deck. “You are creating the walls and you must then create the other components as you advance. Steam Controller had a great impact on our way of thinking about control technologies, and I believe that one of the great lessons learned with Steam Machine was to arrive At the conclusion that if we wanted to bet on this type of initiative we had to do it internally, solving all the problems we see as of great importance for both players and software developers. “

I’ve been trying a Steam Deck for the last few weeks and I’ve been impressed by what Valve has achieved, despite the fact that the device is not exempt from problems. It is a complex and sometimes heavy apparatus – a complexity that is linked to the PC game, and also at the time of moving a good part of the Steam Library to a portable machine. Part of the fun – and of frustration – it occurs when you see how your game catalog works on the machine, although I wonder how many neophytes to the Ecosystem of Valve will enter with it and if you will be able to expand the audience of videogames on PC In the same way he made Switch with the console when he was thrown into the market in 2017.

“I think if we ignore the fact that it is a device to play and we simply look at it in terms of price and performance, for your CPU and GPU, it is a great device,” says Newell. “I think we would be comfortable ignoring the fact that it is a device to play, but it is, and that’s where it has its most attractive applications.”

“One of the most interesting things for us is that we did a very strong bet with the entrance price, and then we saw how the consumers came and bought the most expensive SKU I had available. It’s interesting, they are all early adopters, you know, but What this tells us is that if we had given them more storage space, more performance or more memory, they would probably have bought it equally. It is interesting, and this will probably change as we start expanding the stock and we fulfill the demand, we will see. A change with the passage of time towards the lowest price, to Skus of entry level “.

What is really fascinating, however, is where it wants to take to go to Steam Deck in the future. It is a long-term project, one with a more hopeful future than that of Steam Machines, who could take the PC game to interesting places if Newell’s ideas on where he sees the device in five years are met.

“Some of the conversations we are having with software developers are worth, this is great, but try to see how the next generation of the Deck will be,” he explains. “What do we want in terms of solutions for portable game, for the portable PC game? Does this open the door to new things? We have been a fan of biometric for a long time and its use, and this a good shape, given The position of your hand – this gives you opportunities to do things in that sense. ”

“You know, all these things are related to each other. Much of the technology we are using and that we can use in future versions comes from, you know, the technology we have developed for VR. And if you think and see the machine As a portable PC to play greatly, why can not I have that in an integrated solution without VR cables? “.

“With the helmets we have many more possibilities for things like neuromodulation or direct sensors and things in the head of the people, or you can look at information that is easy to transmit through sensors close to the user’s hands. All these things tend to have A snowball effect over time, with each of them we think what are we going to learn? What are we going to help software developers? How to move that when it comes to building attractive solutions for players? “.

“In the long term, we may end up finding that these are interesting and specific opportunities for laptops, if you start putting cameras in these devices you can find that there are game experiences that really depend on them… Pokémon Go is a great example of a Application that has no sense on the desktop “.

“But that depends on a number of things that currently do not exist in the PC game, and the opportunity with the next versions of Steam Deck is to start looking at this type of application or this type of possibilities, and see what kind of applications It allows you to do. When we start to have unique game technologies in future versions of the deck will be when it makes it much more sense to start trying to make personalized applications and capitalize them “.

Pokémon Go on PC? It is not, of course, what I expected when asking Newell about the long-term plans for Steam Deck, but it is illustrative to see where he sees him who is directed by the device, and a logical step for Steam to venture into one of The most lucrative and popular areas of the video game. There is much until then, as well as several Hardware iterations, with which it is not something that will happen soon, and also Valve will be busy these next months trying to comply with the demand for the new machine.

“Of course we are going to expand the production as fast as we can,” he says. “In fact, this is a good part of what we have been doing during the last six months, working with our suppliers to see how to do it, we also hope – and it is one of the great things in the PC market – see other people watching this and manufacturing products like this. Not only will we try to comply with the demand, but we also hope that other PC manufacturers recognize this type of pieces. And demand for this type of solution is high enough to also think about launching Similar devices “.

“The good news is that demand is high. The bad is that, due to the pandemic, demand for all types of electronic component has skyrocketed. If you talk to Intel, or AMD, or NVIDIA, or with the Ford Motor Company, you will tell you that consumer demand has changed. If you can not go to restaurants or go to the movies, you are going to buy a more beautiful house, and you are going to buy more expensive electronic devices. There has been a huge growth, and it is going to take A little so that the manufacturing capacity complies with this demand. “

Gabe Newell on Steam Deck's Launch and Future
Translation by Josep Maria Sempere.