The Steam Deck – The Future of Mobile Gaming?


Anybody who has played games on their computer for a period of time longer than a week will probably know about Steam. Steam is a virtual game library that is downloaded and played through your computer and has access to thousands of games spanning multiple genres and developers.

Recently, Steam announced the creation of the Steam Deck. This is a portable console that basically serves as a miniature computer. Your entire library of games becomes available on the go and technically is now mobile gaming.

Many people believe that the Steam Deck represents the next step in mobile gaming, and that’s a fair assessment. Whether it’s Fortnite, Among Us, or Elden Ring, the experts at all agree that things just got incredibly interesting for both competitive and casual gamers alike, as the Steam Deck ushers in a new era in portable gaming.

Technically Impressive


Nobody can deny that the console, both as an idea and in the execution, is highly impressive. It represents the evolution of technology, taking something that used to be bound to a desktop computer and then converting it into a handheld device.

This is not a cut-down version or a weaker console like you would get with Nintendo. This is your full library of games, and for the most part, everything is playable. There are a few things that have the functionality changed in the translation from a traditional mouse and keyboard to a controller, but those are minor things.

Technically, it’s a very impressive thing, and it does manage to deliver a great experience. There’s a lot to appreciate here, and it’s well worth checking out.

Valve Pushing the Envelope Yet Again

Although this juggernaut of the industry may not be known by name to the casual gamer directly, Valve’s influence on the gaming landscape over the past two decades cannot be denied. Their initial success started in the early 2000s with the colossal PC hit, Half-Life which would set a new benchmark for first-person shooters.

What initially began as a goal to create a unique sci-fi shooter that would surprise fans of the first-person shooter genre, Half-Life quickly became an incredible success in November of 1998. Surprising the creators, who had very little experience within the industry, the game was critically praised as one of the best video games ever created.

Looking to capitalize on this new (and more importantly, growing exponentially) community of fans, Valve would then change the gaming landscape further by releasing a public software development pack for Half-Life in 1999, which allowed anyone to create custom modifications to the game with immense ease.

With this access to create fresh, never seen content from scratch for the game that they loved, fans were truly at the forefront of what they could create for their own communities, only limited by their imaginations. Their next big development came in 2003 when Valve’s next major project started. Steam was initially released as an update for Valve games. But because the in-development source engine added capabilities for smoother upgrades, a unified update system was in the best interest of both gamers and the development teams behind them.

A Great Idea


Arguably the success of the console and the reason why so many people are pre-registering to get one comes down to the fact that this does something quite different. Unlike a lot of offerings, which try to build mobile versions of existing games, this literally takes the virtual library from the computer and puts it straight onto a handheld console. Nothing has been cut down, and nothing has changed; the games are the same.

The result is something quite unlike anything we have ever seen before. You wind up with a series of games that is highly impressive from a technical perspective. They can do more than most mobile games can. Arguably the mobile gaming landscape is more competitive than ever before, as long gone are the days of old, clunky, blocky Nokia phones with black and white displays that only let players experience ‘snake’. Currently, all the major mobile phone providers such as Apple, Samsung and Huawei are looking to capitalize on the growth of the mobile gaming market over the past decade, as they all integrate sharp, crisp displays for players whilst also offering thousands of games in their digital stores.

The Next Stage?

Is this something that would be considered the next stage in technology for mobile gaming? Yes, it would be. A close comparison to the Steam Deck would be the Nintendo Switch which was released in 2017 and has been a large success for the Japanese brand, having sold an estimated 103.54 million units globally since its launch.

This is, essentially, everything mobile gaming is trying to be. There is an extensive games list, good graphics, access to proper games that have a full run time, and the portability of mobile gaming is there. This is everything that a handheld console of this nature is trying to be and everything that mobile gaming has been working towards.

Ultimately, consoles like this set the standard for what mobile games need to aim towards. A good mobile console, or anything that works via a handheld basis, needs to aim to this level. It’s not going to get any better than this, at least not for a while, so the rest of the industry needs to catch up.


Final Thoughts

So obviously, this is a great offering that does well at delivering a broad series of experiences. There is a lot to appreciate with the Steam Deck, and it does seem to represent the evolution of the industry.

It’s a period of change and one which will ultimately prove to be highly effective. The long-term consequence of a console like this is that mobile gaming will have to learn to adapt in order to compete. There is absolutely no way that mobile games will continue to gain popularity unless they start offering more. This is raising the bar across the board.