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Even Steam’s servers buckled under the Steam Deck pre-order rush

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People ran into all kinds of issues with the process

a photo of a Steam Deck, a new handheld console from Valve, in a case Image: Valve

Pre-orders for the Steam Deck went live Friday on Steam, and the rush of people attempting to reserve Valve’s upcoming handheld PC threatened to overwhelm the Steam servers, causing a raft of errors for potential customers.

The new handheld console was announced on Thursday, with pre-orders opening up on Friday afternoon Eastern time. Those trying to reserve a unit have run into a wide array of issues with the pre-ordering process, including false error messages. The problems impact both those trying to buy the Steam Deck on the Steam website and through the Steam app.

One such error is a notification that says, “Your account is too new to reserve early.” Multiple Steam users said on social media that they got that message despite being a longtime customer of Steam.

This issue is likely connected to safeguards Valve put in place in an effort to prevent scalpers from snatching up Steam Deck reservation slots. Customers that wish to pre-order a unit within the first 48 hours of reservation availability must have made a Steam purchase before June 2021.

Another error message says, “It looks like you’ve been attempting a lot of purchases in the last few hours. Please wait a while before trying again.” It’s possible that this results from customers having to repeatedly try going through the ordering process, refreshing their cart over and over again.

We’ve also seen at least one report of people running into an issue where their purchase “may have been completed” — leaving them wondering whether their order actually went through.

And then there’s just the plain old “Something Went Wrong” error message:

However, if you’re still trying to snag a Steam Deck pre-order, it looks like you can still get a reservation if you stick with it. At this point, more than an hour after pre-orders went live, more and more customers appear to have been successful.

Regardless of when you get through, there’s going to be a lengthy wait for the actual product. The Steam website is now showing estimates for when the Steam Deck will be available. Valve said Thursday that units are scheduled to begin shipping in December, but that may apply only to early reservations of the cheapest model, which costs $399 for 64 GB of storage. At the time of publication, the approximate ship date for that one and the midtier model — which has 256 GB of storage for $529 — is the first quarter of 2022. As for the 512 GB model, which costs $649, it’s now expected to ship in the second quarter of 2022.

If you’ve been able to secure a reservation, the next step of the process will involve following through on your $5 deposit, on a first-come, first-served basis. “Once inventory is available, you will receive an email in the order your reservation was made,” says the confirmation email from Valve.

The problems are a bummer because Valve instituted the extra precautions in an attempt to prevent scalpers. The intent was to make it easier to help individuals get Steam Decks, not more difficult. However, securing new gaming hardware at launch is often messy and difficult, even in normal times, due to high demand. Buying hardware in the past year has been especially challenging, since manufacturing has been strained by the pandemic. Hunting down products like a PlayStation 5 has become so intense that it’s transformed into its own subculture. So it’s not a huge surprise that there would be some hiccups in the Steam Deck reservation process.

Polygon has reached out to Valve for comment, but did not hear back in time for publication. We will update this article with any information we receive.