Portable gaming has been around for decades. Despite all the past success, one of the two dominant brands – Sony – has discontinued the PlayStation Vita a couple of years ago, leaving only Nintendo Switch in the market. That said, nothing is smooth sailing for Nintendo as the current most-used portable gaming hardware on the planet is a smartphone, especially the ones with enough processing power to run a high-profile game, it had a serious impact on the portable console market.
There are around 6 billion active smartphones today – and statistics show that each new smartphone has a game downloaded within a week from its purchase. The variety of games on smartphones is amazing, covering everything from video slots at Spin Online Casino to shooters like Fortnite and others. Of course, hyper-casual games like the slot machines are the most played ones on smartphones – they are perfect to be played on a touchscreen, they are simple, easy to learn, and provide instant gratification.
That just goes to show the portable gaming industry is still offering a lucrative return either for the console manufacturer or game developers. The catch is, they need to properly strategize the whole ecosystem and fulfilling their promises. Today, a new contender is planning to carve out its place in the portable gaming scene, offering quite an impressive combination of hardware and software. And it is powered by Valve, the company behind the Steam marketplace. The console is named – Steam Deck.
The hardware configuration of the Steam Deck is pretty impressive. It is powered by a custom-built AMD Zen-2 APU with 4 cores and 8 threads for processing, and RDNA 2 graphics cores for visuals. Plus, it comes with 16GB of lightning-fast LPDDR5 RAM and NVMe SSD storage (except for the entry-level model that comes with a 64GB eMMC). In short, its hardware matches that of a gaming PC from a couple of years ago.
With this configuration, Valve says, the Steam Deck will be able to run every Triple-A game currently on the market – with a few caveats, of course, like a lower resolution (probably 720p). But then again, 720p gaming looks amazing on a 7” screen. So, we can expect high-quality gaming that the Switch will find hard to match anytime soon – especially with its four-year-old hardware.
Amazing game variety
There are more than 4000 games available on the Nintendo Switch, including titles from beloved franchises like Zelda, Mario, Fire Emblem or Super Smash Bros. All games are designed to run smoothly on the console.
Impressive as it may sound, Nintendo’s Switch library pales in comparison with the game variety that comes with the Steam Deck. Remember, Valve promised that the console will run all games on Steam – this means more than 50,000 games and thousands of DLCs and expansions. To make things even more attractive, we have to mention that there are thousands of free to play games available on Steam as well.
Of course, most Switch games are unavailable… but there are more than enough similar games to make up for their absence.
An open system
Nintendo’s Switch runs a home-grown, closed-source operating system based on that of the Nintendo 3DS. Unless you decide to go for the illegal route, there is no poking around in it, there’s no sideloading – there’s not even a fully-fledged web browser inside it, a feature that users have been asking for since forever.
The Steam Deck, on the other hand, will have an open-source operating system based on Arch Linux, called Steam OS 3.0. It will be optimized for running games on the Deck… but if you don’t like it, you’ll have the option to wipe it and install another – Windows 10 if you like. Of course, this means that you’ll also forfeit the optimizations – and it will likely cost you some FPS in the long run. But the option is up to you.
In short, the Nintendo Switch is a handheld gaming console with many options and a docking station that can turn it into a desktop device. The Steam Deck, in turn, will be a fully-fledged portable gaming PC with a touchscreen and massive game variety.