Valve on Thursday surprised the gaming industry with the official reveal of its Steam Deck console, a handheld device capable of playing console-quality PC games. The big draw: It plays games from your existing Steam library on PC, meaning owners won't have to purchase separate games to play exclusively on the Steam Deck.
The device has been rumored for a while, most recently in an Ars Technica report saying the device, codenamed SteamPal, was slated to launch this year. But Valve just revealed all the details with a dedicated website, preorders going live Friday and a December 2021 launch window.
The Steam Deck has a variety of different price points based on the internal storage you'd like, starting at $399 for a 64GB version and jumping up to $539 for a 256GB model featuring a faster solid-state drive and then $649 for a 512GB SSD model. It has some impressive specs, including a custom AMD APU that Valve says is capable of playing full-blown console and PC games. It can also be plugged into a dock for sending the display to a larger screen and plugging in an ethernet connection, similar to a Nintendo Switch. The battery life is listed at between 2 and 8 hours.
The device is sure to shake up the game industry, most immediately by presenting a direct and PC-friendly competitor to the Nintendo Switch. By also allowing owners to play games they've bought on PC and console-quality ones, too, the Steam Deck could become a major console competitor if its hardware is as capable as Valve claims.