Steam Deck is More Than Just PC Gaming on the Move
Steam Deck could be an instant success – it’s every advantage of the Switch while surpassing it graphically, even offering up many of the best titles from the Series X and PlayStation 5. This thing could revolutionise the entire industry, and especially on the PC side. But only if people know it exists.
Because that’s the rub. I was an avid fan of the Steam Controller, despite not being a massive PC gamer. I ranted and raved about how much it brought to the table, and even amongst the hardcore I was met with a resounding “meh”. When the Big Picture controller editing came to PS4 and Xbox One remotes, the battle was well and truly lost.
Now, I’m not suggesting Steam will approach the £350-£570 Steam Deck in the same way they approached the £50 Steam Controller. Something tells me they’ll try and put a bit more emphasis on it…
…But will they? Unfortunately, stranger things have happened.
Steam Deck – The Portable Future?
To appreciate the genius of the Steam Deck, you have to look at the competition.
In one corner, we have the Nintendo Switch. This is a good console that people have mostly because Mario and Zelda release on it, but alongside that is the advantage of portability. The Witcher 3 might not be the best experience ever on the Nintendo console, but it’s at its most playable. Steam Deck only allows you to play at 800p of course, and resolution is important, but on that small a screen, with the graphical settings set to max, the difference between Switch and Steam Deck will be night and day. This is a Nintendo Switch with a wider library, better graphics and no need for specific ports. You won’t get the latest Zelda on it, but something tells me it won’t be long until you get Ocarina of Time.
In the other corner, you have Microsoft and Sony. Microsoft’s answer to the portability problem is cloud streaming, and bloody good it is too. For what it’s worth. And that’s the problem. Right now, there’s always the caveat of streaming not being a full replacement for dedicated hardware. We can talk about the future all you like, today that’s the state of play. Their replacement takes time, it takes a changing of attitudes. The Steam Deck just takes money down.
Sony barely comes into this competition, having neither an attractive cloud strategy or any real portability options. They are increasingly releasing their games on Steam though, so that’s just another plus point to the Deck.
And it should be stressed, this is not a look at how the Steam Deck is going to wipe away the competition. It is just an observation that it sits in a very convenient place right now.
That’s meaningless if it doesn’t find its audience. It either needs really good marketing or an insane word-of-mouth, else it’ll crash and burn like so many other pushes at this market.
For instance, the fact that you can’t get one until Q2 2022 is a giant problem. Unlike the Xbox Series X or PS5, the Steam Deck doesn’t have 20 years of loyalty to the point where people will wait for stock to be replenished. The hardcore will jump all over it, casuals less so unless something is done to keep it in their mind.
The link between “Steam”, as an all-encompassing PC juggernaut, and the Steam Deck, cannot be its only selling point, because it isn’t one.
Marketing needs to highlight its place in the industry. With a clever plan and thee right amount of push, it will cause a real ripple.