#30: Deck building

The danger with writing about the daily(-ish) machinations of the game industry is that you risk being, well, a bit of a downer. Over the past couple of weeks Hit Points has discussed the downside of subscription services, bemoaned Stadia’s messy change of direction and Sony’s dismal treatment of indies, raised concern over the industry’s current obsession with consolidation, and heartily shat on the OLED Switch. We must, of course, call out the bad stuff when we see it. But at the same time, I do not want to style myself as a professional complainer. There are far too many of those around as it is.

So! It is with great joy and my heart and a spring in my step that I find myself unable to say a bad word about Steam Deck, which was formally unveiled yesterday. Rumours of Valve’s Switch-like PC first emerged in May, when references to a device, codenamed SteamPal, were found in a Steam database update. I wrote about it in an early Hit Points, and it’s worth revisiting now — if only to see how few of the potential issues I saw in the concept have come to pass. There’s a lesson in there somewhere, I suspect.

I was worried about Valve’s ability to balance power and price, but the Deck is comfortably more powerful than a Switch, and a price range of $399 (with a 64GB SSD) to $649 (with a 512GB NVMe) is honestly spot on. I was concerned about battery life, but it’s roughly on par with Switch as well. And I wasn’t convinced there’d be enough things to play on a Steam handheld that I couldn’t already play on my Switch or iPad Pro. In all honesty I have no idea what I was on about there. If you’re prepared to abandon semantics for a moment and consider Steam Deck a new console, then it has the best launch line-up the game industry will ever see. When I take mine out of the box for the first time, I will already own 600 games for it. One of them will be OutRun 2006! Sign me up.

My only lingering concerns are over the form factor. At almost a foot wide, it’s a little on the large side — but I don’t own a bag it won’t fit in, and I’ve always found Switch a little too small for my hands and eyes, so fair enough. And the controller layout is a little strange, but IGN’s hands-on is very positive about it, and my good friend (and Hit Points subscriber!) Allen Murray says it’s great too, and he’s yet to steer me wrong. Besides, I think Valve’s hardware team has earned a little trust given its excellent work on Steam Controller and Index.

Honestly I think this thing looks terrific, and is just what I needed after the Switch not-Pro disappointment. I shall be putting my preorder in this evening. The industry is always a little sunnier when there’s new hardware to look forward to. Optimism! What a strange sensation. I could rather get used to it.


  • Lots of delays announced this week, including Lemnis Gate, Resident Evil Re:Verse, Warhammer 40k: Darktide and the Evil Dead tie-in. One hates to return so quickly to cynicism, but I’m struggling to see how it wasn’t already apparent these games were going to slip when they were shown off, with varying degrees of fanfare, at not-E3 last month.
  • Phil Spencer says the industry should do more for game preservation, an entirely commendable standpoint that I’m struggling to reconcile with Game Pass being the main Xbox value driver. Subscriptions are the death of ownership, and game preservation, such as it is today, exists only thanks to consumers digging through boxes in their attics. His heart’s in the right place, at least.
  • Speaking of subscriptions, some more news this week of Netflix’s move into games, which I covered in Hit Points in May. I still don’t understand what this is. I watch Netflix on my phone, tablet, console, smart TV app and Apple TV. How can Netflix offer me games across all those devices without compromise, or falling afoul of platform holders? There’s an acceptance that this is a logical move for Netflix, which I suppose it is if you overlook almost everything beyond the most basic theory of it.
  • There is now such a thing as a Guilty Gear fragrance line. You know a real sick combo? Buying normal fragrance, and not therefore combusting with embarrassment when someone asks you what you’re wearing.
  • Xbox, Bethesda, Ubisoft, EA and Bandai Namco are among the first companies confirmed for what I suppose we are going to have to call not-Gamescom, which is coming to an internet near you in August.
  • The sublime Tetris Effect’s previously Xbox-exclusive Connected update lands on other platforms on August 18. The Epic Store exclusivity deal has also evidently expired, as it debuts on Steam on the same day. As if Steam Deck wasn’t essential enough already, this news surely seals it.

That’s it for the week. Wishing you all an excellent weekend — and as ever, do please help Hit Points, and me, by doing various things with the buttons below. See you soon!