Valve, the company behind the popular gaming platform Steam, has been clear about its ambitions to release a second iteration of the Steam Deck. However, according to Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais, we shouldn’t expect this new handheld gaming device anytime soon. In an email to The Verge and CNBC, Griffais indicated that it could be late 2025 or even beyond before Valve raises the bar and releases a more advanced version of the Steam Deck. The reason behind this delay? Valve wants to ensure a significant leap in performance without sacrificing battery life and power efficiency. While the news might disappoint eager gamers, let’s explore the reasoning behind Valve’s decision and what it means for the future of handheld gaming.
Valve’s primary concern when it comes to the Steam Deck is providing a fixed performance target for developers. This means that Valve wants every Deck owner to be able to play the same games, regardless of hardware variations. Changing the performance level of the Steam Deck is not a decision taken lightly by Valve. The company only wants to introduce a performance upgrade when there is a significant enough increase to justify it. Valve is closely monitoring innovations in hardware architectures and fabrication processes, hoping to identify a breakthrough that will allow them to deliver a notable performance boost while maintaining power efficiency and battery life. However, Griffais emphasizes that such a leap is not anticipated in the next couple of years.
Valve’s plans for the Steam Deck might have caught some by surprise due to the longer timeframe mentioned by Griffais. While many assumed that Valve would release a performance-upgraded version of the Steam Deck as early as 2024, Griffais’ comments suggest otherwise. The “next couple of years” could extend beyond 2025, indicating that Valve is willing to take its time to ensure a substantial improvement in performance before releasing a new iteration of the handheld gaming device.
Meanwhile, as time goes on, the original Steam Deck might struggle to keep up with the latest demanding and poorly optimized games. Despite being able to technically run the latest PC games, some titles, such as The Last of Us Part I, Redfall, and Starfield, pose challenges. However, Griffais mentions that Valve’s graphics driver team has made targeted optimization efforts to support unusual features in certain games. For example, Valve’s optimization of the Mesa radv Vulkan driver enabled the Steam Deck to play Starfield, albeit with compromised graphics quality. These optimization efforts demonstrate Valve’s commitment to improving the gaming experience on the existing Steam Deck while they work on a more powerful successor.
While Valve’s focus is on a more substantial performance upgrade, it doesn’t rule out the possibility of a refresh for the current Steam Deck. Console manufacturers, such as Nintendo, have a history of releasing improved versions of their hardware without significantly altering the performance floor. Valve could follow a similar path by addressing the top pain points of the Steam Deck, primarily the screen and battery life. A new screen, for instance, could deliver a perceived performance boost, even without a new chip to enhance the framerate. Valve could also explore options like a larger battery or optimizing the existing hardware to consume less power. Additionally, there have been speculations about Valve’s Galileo/Sephiroth project, which might be a long-awaited standalone SteamVR headset. While these possibilities are mere conjectures, they highlight the potential directions Valve could take in the future.
Valve’s decision to delay the release of a Steam Deck 2 till at least 2025 showcases their commitment to providing a remarkable leap in performance without sacrificing battery life and power efficiency. While gamers may have to wait longer for an upgraded version of the handheld gaming device, Valve’s ongoing efforts to optimize performance and address pain points on the current Steam Deck demonstrate their dedication to enhancing the gaming experience in the meantime. The future of handheld gaming looks promising, and Valve’s pursuit of innovation ensures that gamers can anticipate exciting developments in the years to come.