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Next-gen Steam Deck would focus on improving battery life, screen

Valve designers explain what they’re prioritizing for future models and current ones

A woman playing Hollow Knight on the Steam Deck. In the background, cars drive down a street. Photo: Valve
Nicole Clark (she/her) is a culture editor at Polygon, and a critic covering internet culture, video games, books, and TV, with work in the NY Times, Vice, and Catapult.

When the Steam Deck debuted in February, we called it our new favorite console. The appeal is easy to understand: What if the games in your Steam library were playable on the go, via a handheld device with the processing power of a gaming PC? Valve has since pushed more than 90 updates for the Steam Deck, fixing bugs and improving the player experience. The real question, now, is what future updates Steam Deck owners can expect.

In a recent interview with The Verge, Steam Deck designers Lawrence Yang and Pierre-Loup Griffais went into detail on the features they’re prioritizing, along with what a second-gen Steam Deck might look like — noting that they’d focus on upgrading the screen and battery life.

Valve has called the Steam Deck a “multi-generational product,” saying that it plans to “build new versions to be even more open and capable than the first version of Steam Deck has been.” Yang and Griffais told The Verge that improving the screen and battery life are priorities in future hardware revisions.

As for potential power upgrades, Griffais pointed to the benefits of maintaining a consistent target for developers, suggesting that at least the next model of the Steam Deck won’t offer improved performance. “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,” he said.

Steam Deck updates currently in the works fall into two categories, according to Yang: “things we want to fix, and things we still want to make.”

Right now, the Steam Deck’s battery is difficult to access. In the current design, it’s glued. Valve is already working on “a change to the geometry of the adhesive, making the battery easier to loosen,” Yang said. As batteries tend to wear out more quickly when compared to other hardware components, making the battery easier to access and replace would be a welcome update.

Additionally, Valve is working on a feature to adjust the audio mix between various apps, which would allow players to, say, turn down a game’s volume to make it easier to hear friends on Discord. Valve would be interested in adding mobile games to the Deck, but Griffais and Yang noted that it would be important to communicate to players that these games are touchscreen-only experiences.

Now that Valve has had some success on the hardware front, what about a follow-up to the unique, but sadly discontinued, Steam Controller? “We want to make it happen,” Yang told The Verge, but he added that the company’s current focus is on the Deck.

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