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Valve explains how Steam Machines paved the way for the Steam Deck

Steam Deck
Steam Deck (Image credit: Valve)

What you need to know

  • The Steam Deck is Valve's upcoming handheld gaming device, designed to take PC games on the go.
  • Valve's previous attempt at Steam-focused hardware, the Steam Machines, failed to find a large audience.
  • Valve explains that the Steam Machines helped Valve learn important lessons when designing the Steam Deck.

The Steam Deck isn't the first time Valve has taken a stab at Steam-centric hardware, with the infamous Steam Machines arriving and then quickly disappearing back in 2015. Speaking with IGN, Valve indicates that the Steam Machine rollout was an important learning process that paved the way for the Steam Deck.

"We didn't really want to bring this device to customers until we felt it was ready and that all those boxes were checked essentially," says designer Greg Coomer, adding "I don't think we would've made as much progress on Steam Deck if we hadn't had that experience."

Designer Scott Dalton adds that Valve's experience with trying to make a gaming PC that ran on Linux eventually led to Proton, the compatibility layer allowing the Steam Deck to run Windows games, at least in theory. Valve also explains that designing Steam Controller also provided valuable insight into the eventual design of the Steam Deck.

The Steam Deck specs list indicate it's packing impressive handheld tech, though Valve has noted that many games will be targeting 30 FPS.

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.