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Steam Deck: A Device For All Seasons

The Steam Deck is a very cool little handheld, and one that’s becoming increasingly popular. Only one thing is stopping me from buying it: I want to play everything on my TV.


I figured that older games and indies would be a shoo-in for the portable. It’s basically what the Switch is, right? But the idea of playing something that’s supposed to be big and beautiful and epic on a tiny screen feels like watching Lord of the Rings on a Gameboy Advance.

And yet this isn’t a problem that other people seem to be having. Valve have unveiled their list of the 100 most played games on the Steam Deck and it’s as varied as it possible could be.

Three of the top five are massive RPGs – Baldur’s Gate, Hogwart’s Legacy and Elden Ring – leaving just two places for smaller games. Dave the Diver and, of course, Vampire Survivors.  The rest of the top 10 is no different, bringing in Red Dead Redemption 2, Grand Theft Auto V and Cyberpunk. Palworld – hardly your grandma’s indie – and the perennial Stardew Valley make up the last of the selection.

What a win for scalability that Cyberpunk – the number one next-gen experience on PC right now – can also be one of the most popular games running on the far less powerful Steam Deck.

I have a great TV, and I want to be able to make the most use out of it. Take almost any game from the last decade or so and it will look incredible on PC. Shrinking it down to the size of a mobile phone screen just doesn’t sound right.

And yet as I read through the list, it becomes clear that convenience is more important than having all the bells and whistles.

To Steam Deck Or Not To Steam Deck

This won’t be news to those who’ve religiously used their Switch over the last generation. Those – me included – who doubted its appeal have been well and truly proven wrong. People want these massive experiences in a medium which can be played on the move. They want to be able to play it in their bed, or on the bus, or wherever is best for them.

The Steam Deck takes that idea and  adds all of those huge console games from the last few years. Without a single compromise – well, for a seven inch screen.

I’m playing Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth, a game that’ll likely be one of the most important of the generation for me. And I wouldn’t play that on a seven inch screen if you paid me. But firstly, everybody’s experience is different, and not everybody has access to a decent TV, either through cost or time. Not everybody has a decent PC. Not everybody wants something that big which hooks up to their TV.

For me, the Steam Deck (and the Switch) is a novelty which would quickly wear off. It doesn’t match my play style, nor my interests. There are things it would suit – replays and indie games.

And I’m grateful that the geniuses behind these devices can create products for all of us. If there’s one thing this industry desperately needs, it’s to reach a more diverse set of gamers.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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Twitter: @matgrowcott