clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

For Valve, the Steam Deck OLED is just the beginning

Valve knows it has something special with the future of the Steam Deck

A photo of the Steam Deck OLED playing Cocoon. Photo: Valve
Chris Plante co-founded Polygon in 2012 and is now editor-in-chief. He co-hosts The Besties, is a board member of the Frida Cinema, and created NYU’s first games journalism course.

The Steam Deck OLED isn’t a sequel to the Steam Deck; it’s the original device improved to its full potential. The Steam Deck 2 — for lack of a better name — will likely appear in two to three years, Valve says, when the company feels it can use nascent hardware to produce a “generational leap” in performance. But it’s unlikely Valve will stop there. After talking with members of the Steam Deck team, it sounds as if the next few years of Steam Deck are only the beginning.

“Although Steam Deck is super successful, it’s still very early for handheld gaming,” says Yazan Aldehayyat, a hardware engineer at Valve. “There’s still a lot of work to be done. We don’t see ourselves as achieving all of our goals anytime soon. There are multiple years ahead of us.”

Aldehayyat compared the potential of PC handhelds to the rise of smartphones, a period in which many giant tech companies competed to make major improvements from year to year. “We see Asus and other companies and we love that,” says Aldehayyat. “We’d love for more companies to make some. I think Steam Deck OLED is a further data point to show in a year and a half [that] we moved this far.”

The top of the Steam Deck OLED, including the orange power button Photo: Valve

Of course, it’s not surprising that Valve would see itself as Apple in this situation. “Valve has a unique perspective,” says Lawrence Yang, a user experience designer at Valve. “We can do the Apple thing where we have the whole stack. It lets us move quicker and leaner and do other things other companies might not be able to do. And just like other companies have other strengths, customers will have more options to choose from.”

When pressed for an example, Yang noted that Valve has a direct relationship with developers through the Steam store. As we’ve already seen, many studios will optimize to not just run on the Steam Deck, but make the most of its specific specs.

The smartphone era has chilled since its technological and creative boom in the mid-2000s. But as Aldehayyat says, “We haven’t hit the plateau.” The pair have a list of things to be done.

Both Valve employees were clear that they didn’t want the Apple model of shipping a new Steam Deck every year, like Apple does with the iPhone. But at the same time, they emphasized they were just getting started.

When asked for clarity — that Valve hopes to continue the Steam Deck line not just to the Steam Deck 2 but beyond that — Yang replied, “Yes, definitely. We’re excited to see how many customers we’ve been able to make happy with Steam Deck — our internal measure for success — and are looking forward to continue making more Steam Deck models well into the future.”

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.