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I ordered a Steam Deck


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TL;DR: I ordered the Steam Deck a week ago, and UPS just delivered it. The Steam Deck celebrated its first birthday, and Valve discounted it by 10% during its spring sale that ended yesterday. This purchase represents a huge shift in my gaming and collecting habits. Read below for what went into the decision.

First, the Nintendo Switch demonstrated to me that a portable device with a 7" screen can be my primary gaming platform. I bought a Switch last year and have been gaming on it during the past six(?) months. The experience has been fantastic for three reasons.

  1. Due to lower back and bulging disc problems, sitting on a chair to play games has been an uncomfortable experience, and that's where the Switch comes in. I could find a bodyosition to ease the pain or discomfort and play games with it.
  2. The 720p on a 7" screen really works for me. My biggest disappointment with the handheld experience has been the Sony Vita. It has a great lovely screen and is a gorgeous piece of hardware, but due to the screen size and its relative high resolution, many games and text often appear too small for these old eyes.
  3. It's the Hori Split Pad. They are replacements for the Nintendo joycons. They are about the size of a regular console controller (the part that you grip in your hand), and they have been very comfortable to use. They make the Switch much wider than with the joycons, but that's a tradeoff that I am glad to make. I've been using the Hori Split Pad since day 1, and the Nintendo joycons included with the Switch and the Nintendo Pro controller have remained in the box unused. My Switch experience told me that a similar sized handheld with 720p was a viable handheld gaming experience for me. So that takes me to the Steam Deck.

Second, I have not gamed on a PC for the past 5+ years, and I switched to consoles as my primary gaming platform 7-10 years ago (I think). I got tired of the cost of hardware upgrades and loved the idea of console gaming from a hardware maintenance perspective. However, I've wanted to get a gaming capable PC for a few years for doing stuff in addition to game playing. The only PCs I have had the past several years have been hand-me-down budget laptops from my kids, and I wanted something more powerful. In addition, using a PC sitting on the couch in front of the big screen TV has always held appeal. I briefly considered one of those micro(?) PCs when Metal Jesus featured them in one of his videos this year. However, a PC purchase wasn't something that was actively on my mind, but that took a quick turn when Valve put the Steam Deck on sale last week. 

It caught my attention, and I looked into it. I liked what I saw:

  • 1280x800 7" screen (I'm glad it's not 1080p)
  • Comfortable looking physical design
  • Backed by Valve who has hardware product experience
  • Nature of PC platform to be backward compatible (for the most part)
  • Flexibility of PC platform and emulation support
  • Considered one of the best PC gaming handhelds

The Steam Deck represents a huge shift for me and my game collecting both psychologically and financially. I am anticipating that using the Steam Deck will shift my purchasing habit, and the time will come in the near future when I will spend more money on digital than physical releases (some of you are probably there already). I anticipate limiting physical release purchases to console exclusives not available on PC or whatever game that I simply have to have the physical of (Final Fantasy 7 related stuff?). Great thing about the Steam Deck is that I already have a large Steam and GoG backlog so no need to go out and build a library right away.

Buying physical games has been a very expensive endeavor that I'm sure most can relate to. Over the past six or so years I've gotten into retro gaming, I have found myself becoming more a collector than gamer. Of course, that's not a bad thing depending on your goals. Shifting my attention from collecting physical releases will allow me to focus more on the games and playing them (I hope). At least digital purchases should be much cheaper than buying physical copies. I already find it liberating not to be obsessed with physical game releases by boutique shops.

What I'm talking is in regards to Switch, Playstation, and Xbox consoles. I still intend to spend money on homebrew physical releases available on Atari consoles and Vectrex. Moving the dollars out from modern consoles should make for more dollars available for homebrew support 🙂 

When it comes to modern gaming, what platform do you play on primarily?

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I can appreciate every piece of reason you've typed.  I've considered a Steam Deck myself.  Although I'm not sure how well they work and which games are/aren't compatible, and how adequate the controls are.  Controls -- the PC has the best controls for things like FPS games...NOTHING beats a mouse and keyboard. 

Remember in the old days when you could go to a store and try something out on a demo display?  I wish that was the case with the Steam Deck.  Because I hate the idea of shelling out hundreds of dollars and then maybe not really liking it. 

And then there's the time factor.  I have an Atari VCS.  I love it.  I don't play it enough though.  I wish I had more time, but work consumes 50+ hours per week and then I'm usually too tired to really focus on games.  Anyway, the VCS is comfortable to play on (big screen TV, I sit on a couch), has great games that don't cost very much, and really great controls with some real choices.  For example:  the dial on the classic stick makes games like Tempest come to life -- better than on any other home system period. 

I'm eager to see how you like the Steam Deck and how often you use it, so please do share!  Much appreciated.

On the PC front, something very different is happening that eases the burden of hardware upgrades.  Moore's law is dead.  Even a 5 year old PC can run most modern games.  And most modern games have options to lower settings to run on almost any PC.  I haven't touched my PC in ages and it works fine for every Steam game I've tried. 


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As far as controls go, the Steam Deck supports mouse and keyboard and console controllers as well. So from a controller stand point, it’s on par with a regular PC.

I totally hear you about the time factor, Rick. That’s a big reason why I opted for the Steam Deck. The mobility of the Switch has allowed me to spend more time playing games. Since I had it near me, I just played wherever in the house I happened to be when I had some time here and there. I have multiple handhelds (Gameboy, Gameboy Color, GBA, DS Lite, 3DS, PSP, Vita), but I never spent much time with them (except for playing Picross on the GBC last year and playing Tetris and Tennis way back when on the GB). I think it was the size of the Switch screen and the comfort of the Split Pad that hooked me on playing games on a handheld. Hopefully, my theory is right, and I will spend a good time playing games on the Steam Deck. I will report back.

I wish I would have picked up the VCS when it was on sale. Glad to hear that you love it.

It’s good to hear that the PC upgrade cycle is mostly dead. I don’t play games that demand a lot of hardware power anyway and certainly don’t need all the graphical bells and whistles enabled. To me, the games from the PS3 and Xbox360 days look fantastic.

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It's been nearly three weeks since I got the Steam Deck so I thought I check in.

The first week was spent in nervous anxiety because the Sandisk 1TB microSD card that I got (the one that is usually recommended) didn't work with the Steam Deck. The Deck failed to format it. I could format it with an utility on my Windows laptop though. After looking into possible solutions to the problem, I ended up returning it to Amazon and getting a replacement. Fortunately, the replacement worked just fine with the Steam Deck. I guess the SD has a very narrow fault tolerance?

I've been gaming on it for two weeks, and I've been having a blast playing Vampire Survivors. That's the only game I've played so far although I have installed more than a dozen other games.

One of the best things about the Steam Deck has been Valve's validation program. Games that receive Steam Deck Verified status are games that Valve has tested for several design and functional criteria. Among them are games have to have sufficiently large enough in game text and no manual tweaking is necessary for optimal playability. I absolutely love this. I love the idea of handheld gaming so I have a bunch of devices, but the Sony Vita failed me in this regard. It has a gorgeous high resolution screen, but I found that most games simply down-scale the resolution to fit the Vita's screen. What this means is that things are often small-- too small--and my old eyes can't cope. On Nintendo handhelds, most games have been designed with the handheld's limitations(?) in mind so playing games on them have always been a good experience. The Steam Deck is following in that tradition, and it's great to see that Valve has invested in ensuring a good end to end user experience.

The Steam Store has a view that only shows Verified games. It looks like almost all games have the verification status visible somewhere in the product page--Verified, Playable, x-Not Playable-x Unsupported, Untested.

At some point, I will dive into the world of emulators. Emulation in the Steam Deck seems very well regarded. I want to rip my PS1 and PS2 collection at some point so I can play them off of a hard drive (I have a modded PS2). It would be fun to see how they play on the Steam Deck.

Edited by socrates63
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From what I've learned from others, battery life is really dependent on the type of game and config (e.g., refresh rate). I've only played Vampire Survivor. I think for me battery life has been 2-3 hours. That's the range I've heard most commonly mentioned as well.

I'm only playing in 20-30 minute chunks so it works for me. I'm planning to get a 25k+ mAh battery charger as I intend to travel with it this summer.

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