Steam Deck Developers Explain The Likely Future Of Steam Deck And Possibly Why A More Powerful Switch Isn’t Here – GeekTyrant

I recently read an article from The Verge where Sean Hollister got to talk to Lawrence Yang and Pierre-Loup Griffais, designers of Steam Deck, about the handheld gaming PC that gamers love. It’s a really good interview with a lot to take away from it, so I highly recommend stopping by and reading the whole thing. Throughout, Griffais and Yang talk about how Valve wants to work with other companies to integrate SteamOS with their hardware, the potential for a Steam Controller 2, and more. But the part that stood out to me was when the pair talked about hardware upgrades their team is looking at for the Steam Deck.

First, they talk about how the battery design currently implemented in Steam decks is not ideal because it is difficult for users to replace it. The team has already rolled out some changes to hopefully make this less of an issue. They also talked about the fans and how some Steam Decks use a Delta Electronics fan that tends to whine while in use. If you have that problem, there seem to be some fixes you can implement, including ordering a Huaying fan from iFixit or using electrical tape creatively (do both at your own risk). However, Yang also explained that while Valve stopped using the Delta fans for a while, they are back to using them as they have created a foam solution to help with the noise.

These two tidbits are nice, but it’s later in the interview that I really got excited. Hollister asked Griffais and Yang about hardware areas they would target for improvement in a new Steam Deck, and they answered battery life and the screen. The pair were pressed to improve the performance of the handheld and Griffais gave an incredibly insightful answer:

Right now, the fact that all Steam decks can play the same games and that we have one goal for users to understand what kind of performance level to expect when playing and for developers to understand what to target… that’s a lot of value by having the one specification.

I think we choose to keep one performance level a little longer, and only look at changing the performance level when there is a significant gain to be made.

This looks very familiar for some reason. The other major gaming handheld is the Nintendo Switch. The first hardware upgrade increased battery life. The next was an improved screen. None of them included performance increases. Huh. Let’s sit with that for a minute. It’s fascinating how both companies seem to be thinking along the same lines for their hardware upgrades. Now Valve and Nintendo are very different companies and their products are related but also different. It is not a perfect 1:1 comparison. However, this nugget here might give us some insight into why we haven’t seen a more powerful Switch yet.

Nintendo has done some power upgrades in the past. Remember when they launched the New Nintendo 3DS in 2014-2015? It was more powerful, but I’m not sure how well it did compared to the original 3DS, and unfortunately I can’t find those numbers. However, I would be surprised if a ton of people who already had a 3DS went out and upgraded. The Switch is still selling like crazy and I imagine Nintendo has seen how it wouldn’t be worth it to do a hardware upgrade. They would likely have to pay more, which already alienates many consumers; consumers can easily be confused by a “Switch Pro”, “Switch U”, “New Nintendo Switch” or whatever they call it; and let’s face it, not enough people would upgrade to make it worth the while. It’s most likely more important for Nintendo, like Valve, to see and understand the value of having a single set of expectations for consumers and developers.

I know I’ve rambled on a bit, but I read the interview and it just clicked! Maybe Nintendo will prove me wrong and announce a performance upgrade for the Switch soon. I think it’s more likely that we’ll hear about the Switch’s successor in the next year or two, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t just a more powerful Switch. Nintendo tends to do best when they really aim to shake up the gaming industry. What are your most important takeaways from the interview? I know now I’ll probably wait until the better screen and/or battery before getting a Steam Deck.

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