Valve Steam Deck 2: the features we want to see | Stuff (2024)

Home / Features / Steam Deck 2: the features we want from Valve’s next gaming handheld

FeaturesGamingSteamGaming hardwarePC gamesGames consoles

Features

The Steam Deck is a solid piece of kit. Can Valve do even better?

Jack Needham

Valve Steam Deck 2: the features we want to see | Stuff (2)

By most estimations, Valve should be very happy with the near universal praise heaped on its first ever handheld console. Sorry, make that handheld PC: the Steam Deck doesn’t just take your Steam library on the move, it’ll play titles from other digital stores, emulate classics and makes a fine substitute for a laptop with minimal tinkering. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t improvements to be made, should a Steam Deck 2 ever hit the shelves.

  • Read: Best console 2023: which one should you choose?

And why wouldn’t it? The original was in such demand Valve had to initially restrict supply, and its popularity has seen games devs embrace Linux (the back-end operating system that powers the Steam Deck’s UI) like never before. The newly-revealed Steam Deck OLED looks certain to be even more popular; it fixes the few issues gamers had with the original device, with a brighter display and better battery life.

But Valve’s competitors are multiplying, with firms both mainstream and boutique popping up with their own take on the game-friendly handheld. There’s the Logitech G Cloud, Asus ROG Ally and the Abxylute, while Sony’s Playstation Portal handheld is designed primarily for the PlayStation’s Remote Play feature.

Valve will almost certainly want to cement its lead with a follow-up device – when the time is right. Before it does, we’ve thought of a few ways a Steam Deck successor could improve on today’s model.

Steam Deck 2: is it actually happening?

Valve Steam Deck 2: the features we want to see | Stuff (3)

Yes. All signs are certainly pointing that way, anyway. Following the Steam Deck OLED’s reveal, Valve Product Designer Lawrence Yang confirmed toBloomberg that the next Steam Deck would get a “next-generation” power boost. He also said we wouldn’t be seeing it for at least two or three years.

Around the same time, Valve hardware engineer Yazan Aldehayyat told Eurogamer the firm would “love to get even more performance in the same power envelope” as the current model, but “that technology doesn’t exist yet”.

Valve had previously called the Steam Deck a multi-generational product, suggesting that it would evolve in some way. Now it has boosted battery life and added an improved screen, performance is the obvious next step.

In an earlier 2022 interview with The Verge, Steam Deck designer Pierre-Loup Griffais said Valve was deliberating on whether to keep the handheld’s performance consistent for the time being.

“Right now the fact that all the Steam Decks can play the same games and that we have one target for users to understand what kind of performance level to expect when you’re playing and for developers to understand what to target… there’s a lot of value in having that one spec,” Griffais said. “I think we’ll opt to keep the one performance level for a little bit longer, and only look at changing the performance level when there is a significant gain to be had.”

Steam Deck 2 likely release date

Valve Steam Deck 2: the features we want to see | Stuff (4)

We’ve known that Valve is working on a Steam Deck 2 for a while now. Company co-founder Gabe Newell confirmed as much in an interview with Edge Magazine, saying a new Deck would focus on “the capabilities that mobile gives us, above and beyond what you would get in a traditional desk or laptop gaming environment.” But when, exactly?

Circle 2025 in your diaries – that’s the most likely candidate for a full Steam Deck 2 release.

Unlike the smartphone world, which is tied to an annual release cycle, the PC hardware market tends to move at a slower pace. Valve won’t want to launch a Steam Deck successor until there’s a new generation of APU (the combined processor and graphics chip doing all the heavy lifting when it comes to games) available with significantly more performance.

The current Steam Deck uses custom AMD silicon based on the firm’s 7nm RDNA 2 architecture, which was first announced in 2020 and started appearing in consumer gadgets a year later. The PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles were among the first in line, with more battery-friendly versions following later. The Steam Deck OLED got an updated version made on a 6nm process, which improves power efficiency but doesn’t offer any power gains.

RDNA 2’s successor, the imaginatively named RDNA 3, made its debut in November 2022 inside AMD’s latest high-end PC graphics cards. Beyond a general power hike, improvements include a 50% increase in performance-per-watt over the previous generation and adaptive power management – seemingly making it the obvious choice for any Steam Deck sequel.

However, recent Valve comments suggest there’s not a big enough leap from the existing silicon to justify a full Steam Deck 2.0. That means a new generation of chips will have to arrive, pushing us into 2024 and beyond. By the time Valve gets its hands on the hardware, develops a handheld around it and puts it into production, 2025 is the earliest realistic date.

  • Related: 12 of the best budget Steam games

Steam Deck 2 possible price

Bargain hunters may not be too thrilled to hear the most popular version of the Steam Deck is the most expensive one – and Gabe Newell suggests the company has taken that as customers willing to spend even more should it release a more expensive version.

It stands to reason, then, that the $349/£349 entry price might not stick around for a second generation. Valve could instead move the goalposts, making the current $549/£479 mid-range model the new entry-level, and introducing an even pricier tier above the current $649/£569 flagship.

Happily the new Steam Deck OLED hasn’t brought a major price bump, despite component costs being on the rise (as well as the general cost of living). Still, that doesn’t mean the next generation Steam Deck won’t be more expensive – only that right now the exact amount would be pure guesswork.

  • Related: The 16 best games to play on the Steam Deck today

Steam Deck 2 feature wish list

Valve Steam Deck 2: the features we want to see | Stuff (5)

We awarded the Steam Deck four stars in our review, singing the praises of its astounding performance, intuitive UI and endlessly customisable controls. A host of software updates has worked out some of the kinks, but there’s still room to improve. Look no further than the following suggestions of what we’d like to see in a successor to work out what would have raised that score to the full five stars.

Longer battery life

We’ll get the obvious improvement out of the way first. Unless you’re using the OG Steam Deck to play 8-bit classics at the lowest brightness setting and with all the internal hardware turned down to its lowest level, it isn’t fantastic in terms of battery life. Steam says you should see anywhere between two and eight hours of game time, but that makes for a pretty wide margin.

In reality, three or four hours is a fairly common benchmark, and it’s not uncommon for the Steam Deck to make it to around 90 minutes in the most demanding titles before throwing in the towel. As the primary gripe of Steam Deck gamers, fixing this issue would be a major crowdpleaser – either with a bigger battery, or more energy-efficient components.

The Steam Deck OLED fixed this to a degree, promising a 30-50% battery life improvement thanks to a more efficient display and larger 50wHr battery pack. But when you’re absorbed in a new game, the last thing you want to see is a low battery alert – we’ll happily take even more life away from the mains from a Steam Deck 2.0.

A better OLED display

Valve followed in the footsteps of Nintendo and made the switch to an OLED display for the Steam Deck’s mid-life refresh. It’s larger, brighter, more colourful, adds HDR support, and has a higher 90Hz refresh rate; even at the same 1280×800 resolution, the combo makes the original model’s 7in LCD look beyond basic in comparison.

How to improve on that for a full sequel? A Full HD panel would be nice, even if it adds more strain to the APU and drain the battery even faster. Instead, we’d like to see a 120Hz variable refresh rate panel, akin to Nvidia G-Sync or AMD Freesync on a desktop PC monitor, which could play games smoothly at less than 60fps or give less demanding titles a smoother appearance.

Up the accessibility

Accessibility in gaming, although slow moving, is getting better as more developers aim to make their games enjoyable for everyone. Valve could do its part to help in a few ways. First off, there are too many games with tiny text and no way to resize them: offering a way of changing hardware-level text sizes would make games far more legible on the Steam Deck’s small screen.

The Steam Deck is also very big. Even the lighter OLED model is over double the weight of the standard Nintendo Switch, which comes in at 299g. That’s a problem for people with motor disabilities, so trimming some of that weight down should be a top priority.

To Steam’s credit, they are addressing some of the accessibility issues. Steam Input, a service that allows any controller to be linked to a device, works well on the Deck and opens up a world of customisable accessible control schemes for many players. Steam could also release updates to some of the issues we’ve raised above, too. But for the Steam Deck 2, a greater emphasis on accessibility will edge it much closer to being a perfect handheld console PC.

Time for a Steam controller rebirth?

Once upon a time (2015 to be exact), Valve experimented with the idea of a Steam controller. It sported dual trackpads for PC gaming, dual-stage triggers and haptics that allowed you to ‘feel the spin of a virtual trackball, the click of a scroll wheel, or the shot of a rifle’, said Valve at the time.

But the Steam controller ran out of, well, steam, and was discontinued after four years. A downside to the Steam Deck, though, is its inability to fully adapt to games that are best played with a mouse and keyboard. This isn’t a problem unique to the Steam Deck, but a Valve-certified controller built specifically for the handheld would be a great addition. It could even up the vibration, and have some improved ventilation while we’re at it. The Steam Deck haptics leave much to be desired, so let’s update that while we’re at it.

  • Read: 12 of the best budget Steam games

Jack Needham

About

A writer of seven years and serial FIFA 23 loser, Jack is also Features Editor at Stuff. Jack has written extensively about the world of tech, business, science and online culture. He also covers gaming, but is much better at writing about it than actually playing.Jack keeps the site rolling with extensive features and analysis.

Valve Steam Deck 2: the features we want to see | Stuff (2024)

FAQs

Valve Steam Deck 2: the features we want to see | Stuff? ›

There isn't a confirmed Steam Deck 2 release date just yet and, going by what Valve have already said about it, we shouldn't expect anything this year. It may not be until 2026 that we're able to see it in the flesh.

Is a Steam Deck 2 coming out? ›

There isn't a confirmed Steam Deck 2 release date just yet and, going by what Valve have already said about it, we shouldn't expect anything this year. It may not be until 2026 that we're able to see it in the flesh.

Is Steam Deck oled more powerful? ›

(Slightly) better performance

Steam Deck OLED contains the same AMD CPU and GPU as the original model, meaning this isn't necessarily a PS4 Pro situation where you'll get massive gains in some games just by having an OLED vs. and LCD. Broadly speaking, if a game runs well on Steam Deck LCD, it'll also run well on OLED.

Is Steam going to make a new Steam Deck? ›

Valve is releasing a better version of its PC gaming handheld Steam Deck this week and hopes to release a generational upgrade, a Steam Deck 2, that's at least two to three years away, Valve designers tell Axios.

Why did Steam make Steam Decks? ›

The Steam Deck gives Valve a way to expand the audience for computer games, and runs the software for Valve's digital gaming storefront Steam on a custom Linux-based OS.

Is Steam Deck stronger than PS5? ›

The PS5 is significantly more powerful than a Steam Deck and has a fairly different primary use case.

Can you put an OLED in the steam deck? ›

Yes, there is no difference in accessory compatibility between Steam Deck and Steam Deck OLED.

Can you hook a Steam Deck to a TV? ›

You can connect your Steam Deck to a television with a simple USB-C to HDMI connector, which you can snag for 10 bucks or less. However, this inexpensive solution doesn't supply power to your Steam Deck, so you'll only be able to play for as long as the Deck has juice.

Is a Steam Deck better than a switch? ›

Connected to a dock, you can even use the Deck as a full HTPC. The Nintendo Switch Lite cannot do any of that, so by technicality, the Steam Deck wins over the Switch simply because all its models/configurations can connect to your TV. But it also wins because it supports more than one video output and resolution.

Will Steam Deck replace PC? ›

Before we really get into this bizarre experiment, let me make something perfectly clear: Steam Deck is awesome, but you probably shouldn't use it as a laptop replacement.

Has Steam Deck flopped? ›

And the handheld gaming PC is often at or near the top of Steam's top-selling chart — even just two months after the device's official February 2022 launch, it was clear that the Steam Deck was not a flop. The company apparently even made a cake to celebrate selling 1 million units.

Was Steam Deck a success? ›

cubefox 11 months ago | parent | context | favorite | on: More than 75% of Steam games tested are playable o... The Steam Deck is a success compared to previous attempts by Valve, but perhaps not as much as the initial excitement would have you believe.

Is Valve planning a Steam Deck 2? ›

Still, Valve's low pricing and simple interface have continued to pull more and more people to its gaming system. As such, it's not at all surprising that the company is planning on releasing a Steam Deck 2.

Can I order 2 steam decks? ›

Are there any quantity limits when purchasing Steam Deck OLEDs? At launch we are restricting purchases to 1 model of Steam Deck OLED per customer per week. We plan to relax this restriction once we are confident we can meet demand.

Is Steam Deck 2 player? ›

Definitely - you can play local co-op on the Steam Deck in a few different ways. You can hook controllers in via Bluetooth, or directly via USB. You can also play with Remote Play Together, where other players are on other Decks or PCs.

Will Steam Deck be a success? ›

Yes. It's not a success on the level of other consoles but it really proved that Windows is not the only PC OS that can run games well. I think anything that weakens the grip of Microsoft in the PC gaming landscape is a massive win.

Will there be a more powerful Steam Deck? ›

If you're waiting for a Steam Deck capable of running Starfield at a decent clip, you're going to be waiting a while yet. Valve has said that a more powerful Steam Deck will arrive at the end of 2025 earliest, with no major performance upgrade expected in the meantime.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Neely Ledner

Last Updated:

Views: 6389

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (62 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Neely Ledner

Birthday: 1998-06-09

Address: 443 Barrows Terrace, New Jodyberg, CO 57462-5329

Phone: +2433516856029

Job: Central Legal Facilitator

Hobby: Backpacking, Jogging, Magic, Driving, Macrame, Embroidery, Foraging

Introduction: My name is Neely Ledner, I am a bright, determined, beautiful, adventurous, adventurous, spotless, calm person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.