What you need to know
- Xbox chief, Phil Spencer, has himself an early Steam Deck unit.
- Says Microsoft titles and Xbox Game Pass streaming works well on the handheld.
- Cue speculation.
The Steam Deck is going to be the hottest piece of hardware this holiday season and the latest juicy piece of news comes not from Valve nor from the media outlets with early access to the device.
No, it comes from Xbox head honcho, Phil Spencer. Who, as it seems, has a Steam Deck.
Was @valvesoftware this week talking w/ Scott, Erik, Gabe about Steam Deck. After having mine most of the week I can say it's a really nice device. Games with me on the go, screen size, controls all great. Playing Halo and Age feels good, xCloud works well. Congrats SD team. pic.twitter.com/q4hWBvkk85Was @valvesoftware this week talking w/ Scott, Erik, Gabe about Steam Deck. After having mine most of the week I can say it's a really nice device. Games with me on the go, screen size, controls all great. Playing Halo and Age feels good, xCloud works well. Congrats SD team. pic.twitter.com/q4hWBvkk85— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) August 13, 2021August 13, 2021
That Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming works well on the Steam Deck isn't entirely surprising, given that beneath its handheld exterior lies the beating heart of a regular PC. As it's based on Linux, we're going to assume that the web client has been used in a browser, but the fact it has no troubles with the Steam Deck controls already is a positive sign.
Spencer also makes mention of some of Microsoft's already available Steam games, namely Age of Empires and Halo. I've played Halo MCC on Linux myself and have to agree. Even though it's running through Proton, the campaign gameplay works exceptionally well, with the only hiccups being multiplayer, as is often the case on Linux games right now.
Age of Empires is a more curious namedrop, though. It only takes a quick glance at ProtonDB to see that the Age titles are all highly rated for playing on Linux through Proton. But that's on a PC, with a mouse and keyboard. Either the Steam Deck controls can interpret mouse and keyboard pretty damn well, or controller support has taken a turn for the better.
Either way, Valve engaging with the main man at Xbox this early on can't possibly be a bad thing. Does it hint at something bigger between Xbox and Steam as the Steam Deck approaches? Engage the rampant internet speculation machine.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine