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Is Valve's Steam Deck doomed to fail?

Steam Deck
Steam Deck (Image credit: Valve)

Valve has a chunky little brick with the power of a full-blown gaming PC called the Steam Deck coming to consumers this year, and it's blowing people's minds. But then again, Valve's wacky hardware proposals always stir the pot. The question is, will this one do it long enough to actually sustain itself and become a success, or will the hype fizzle out and render the Steam Deck just one more forgotten Valve hardware experiment?

Without a doubt, it's great that Valve is so focused on bringing innovation to the PC ecosphere. It's cool seeing gadgets like the Steam Link or game-changing Valve Index inject fresh ideas into the world. For example, remember Steam Machines? Remember when Valve was single-handedly going to take on all gaming PC manufacturers as well as Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox with a range of machines designed to satisfy every gaming-friendly consumer under the sun?

Therein lies the danger. Valve, much like Google, seems to get very excited by new ideas, explodes onto the scene with them, then closes up shop on day two when not enough people show up on day one.

Why Steam Deck could change the game

Steam Deck

Source: Valve (Image credit: Source: Valve)

Let's circle back to that mention of Steam Machines to highlight what they were, what happened with them, and how they're similar to the Steam Deck. In short, Steam Machines were meant to fill a Valve-perceived void between proper gaming PCs and consoles. The devices came in a variety of configurations built for every budget and buyer, designed to attract anyone and everyone who enjoyed AAA gaming.

And yet, they failed, selling less than an estimated 500,000 units (tellingly, Valve never released official sales figures). They were criticized for failing to compete with their own sibling product, the Steam Link, and for not having a clear-cut, easily definable market. From a certain perspective, they were Valve's first crack at the Steam Deck. Steam Machines used Valve's SteamOS, the Steam controller, and were a self-contained gaming platform, much like the Steam Deck is slated to be.

Steam Machines were a bold, risky gamble, and Valve gave up on them almost instantly.

Steam Machines were a bold, risky gamble, and Valve gave up on them almost instantly. Valve also gave up on the Steam Link. Valve also stopped trying to push its Steam controllers as the future of buttoned devices. In that sense, the Valve Index VR headset is something of an outlier. It's surviving because it is one of the ultimate VR offerings virtually in a class all its own and is being bankrolled by a company that is almost singlehandedly carrying the mainstream VR movement. It's only real competition is from Facebook and Oculus, and even then, their respective headsets are for different customers.

And that's why there's a chance the Steam Deck could pay off for Valve. Much like the Index, the Deck is in a class all its own, as the only real hardcore gaming-on-the-go handheld. The Nintendo Switch is all well and good, but it's more or less restricted to Mario and Pokemon fans. Anyone who likes PlayStation games, Xbox games, PC games, or third-party support that isn't downright embarrassing has nothing to gain from buying a Switch. Xbox fans have been benefiting lately from Xbox Game Pass, a subscription service that includes access to tons of games and Xbox Cloud Streaming, which allows users to play them across devices. However, unless they want to buy into a an extra controller, they're stuck with what their phones can handle.

The Steam Deck fills that gap. It supports the main gamer camps that aren't being catered to in the mobile arena. Because PC is the ultimate platform (it has a lot of Playstation exclusives on it, a good portion of Xbox exclusives, and of course, all of its own best PC games), the Deck is essentially offering the majority of the gaming market the Switch experience they may or may not be waiting for.

Steam Deck: Calculated gamble or misguided shot in the dark?

Valve Steam Deck Library

Source: Valve (Image credit: Source: Valve)

It's clear why Valve is taking the risk it's taking with this painfully expensive device. But is this going to end up being another supremely costly, badass handheld that ends up scaring consumers away, much like the PS Vita did back when it was the handheld for people who wanted blockbuster titles on the go? Is the Steam Deck's chunky, unwieldy girth going to give average consumers Wii U flashbacks and make them tap out prematurely?

These are just a few of the many reasons Valve might pull its usual disappearing act on its latest hardware. Maybe the company will find success and carve a niche for itself, or maybe we're all about to watch another Valve passion project run out of steam.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

81 Comments
  • I'm assuming calculated gamble. They are not spending much money and making a ton. At this point they own the pc market. And if they succeed with this they have a way into your living room. Its essentially the same position Microsoft was in when they made the Xbox.
  • But Microsoft created a new product with that Xbox (as Google did with the Stadia, and I'm no Google fan at all, but at least that was a legitimate competitive entry). Valve is trying to sell a Windows game system that pays no Windows license fees to MS, free riding on the huge investments MS has made that allowed those games to exist. I have seen IGN point out that GamePass might be able to run on this, but there is no way Valve supports that, unless the customer reformats the device and installs Windows on it first. That means that they're also using Microsoft's own game technology to excise customers from the MS ecosystem. I don't deny that Valve probably has the legal right to do this (they're not stealing MS copyrighted code), but as a Microsoft fan site, I'd like to at least see some coverage of this in the same way we tend to be talk about Google and Apple as MS competitors. After this, I hope MS removes its games and any other IP from Steam and goes on an all out war against Steam for this (within reason -- not suggesting they pull a Google or Apple and try to block Steam from running on Windows).
  • it doesnt run windows, it runs linux...
  • It runs Windows if you want it to. Many people I have seen in forums are thinking about deleting Linux and installing Windows. Doing so avoids that issue with Proton on several games and allows you to install all the stores that you want (since they all have a Windows, not necessarily Linux one) including Game Pass, allows the DirectXU and Windows 10 (or even Win11) to keep the most up to date gaming features in play (since Proton must stay abreast of changes) - who knows how DirectStorage and other upcoming features will be handled by this device under Proton.
  • This isn't a Microsoft fan site. It's a tech enthusiast site with a concentration on Microsoft's products and services. You, are acting like a fan. Weird, bro. This has nothing to do with Microsoft and valve could have arbitrarily established 'no windows' installations but did not. You feel a type of way for valve not paying for an unnecessary windows license for their customers that they would pass the costs to the customer anyway?
    Weird, bro
  • I agree that in this case, I'm acting like a fan. I'm showing a preference to MS over Valve. I think most people here don't see the Steam Deck as a threat to or attack on MS. I can objectively state that's just ignorance. Even if I were a Valve fan and wanted this to succeed, I would still recognize that it's an attack on MS. This is an MS fan site, at least in part, just like Android Central is largely an Android fan site and iMore is largely an Apple fan site. Mobile Nations has intentionally setup sites that target different groups of tech users. This is the pro-MS site.
  • Microsoft has XBox, let Linux gaming flourish with Valve's SteamOS efforts. It is great for competition.
  • OEMs don't need to pay for Windows for devices that have a screen that is below 9".
  • I mean, it's unlikely to be a smash hit anyway, but that's fine. Like the Duo, it can have a slow first iteration and make a more serious outing the second time round.
  • The start of a new console generation is when new players usually try to get in on the action (ex. Ouya, Steam machines, Stadia, Luna & now Steam Deck). Atari, Nec, Sony & Sega all failed in the handheld gaming market vs. Nintendo. The fact that Gabe mentioned the price point was painful tells me they are likely losing money on every unit sold. Valve does not have Sony, Nintendo & Microsoft money, so they will need this thing to be a hit quickly otherwise they will likely be forced to pull the plug to stop bleeding money.
  • My opinion: Ouya and others failed because nobody wants to play phone games on their TV. The Steam stuff failed because the target audience already had a pc. Non Nintendo handhelds failed because they were too expensive, close in price point to the consoles and need to buy the games a second time. If you later don't like it, you just throw it away. With steam deck, you don't need to buy the games a second time. If you get board with it, you can put windows on it.
  • And that price point is artificially reduced, as they are trying to run Windows games, but without paying for a Windows license. I think Valve is just a despicable company. I respect Steam's commercial success and appreciate that it is indeed well designed for gamers (even I have an account with them), but at best, they are a necessary evil in the gaming world, like a Google.
  • Windows games aren't not to be confused with windows' games. They aren't Microsoft's. This is business. And they are doing the right move by the developers who choose to sell their games on steam by trying to open up a new market and add accessibility. This has nothing to do with Microsoft. It's weird to have a take that argues otherwise. The only justifiable reason someone would have your take is if they had some ownership of Microsoft and quite frankly, that justification abruptly stops at the desire for competition.
    Even Microsoft uses Linux bc it's cheaper than Windows.
  • Who cares. I can see many serious gamers will most likely just install Windows to take full advantage of Windows gaming and avoid the idiosyncrasies using Proton has running Windows games. Actually visiting gaming forums talking about this device that is often what many are planning on doing. So Windows saved. /s Lets not ignore most people (like 97%) on Steam use Windows which means 97% of the users will most likely be Windows users on their desktops which most of their gameplay will really be. This machine is at best equivalent to a (lower) mid-level PC. You will get that type of experience. Do you actually think they are going to buy the Linux version of a game going forward and not be able to play it easily on their actual Windows rigs? Unlikely. And I can't see plugging this device into a larger monitor is going to be a big thing. 720p gaming tells me that. Most people will hop on this play a few hours before the battery dies for most games. I bet most games can't even meet the advertised 2 hours before the battery is expended (6 hrs is for simple games and 8 hrs is if you are just sitting there at the main menu doing nothing). In a year's time, they will either continue using it or will be put aside because it does not provide the advertised capabilities or people find 720p versus 1440p/4k/8k, 120fps+ and less visual fidelity not worth it, especially if they are playing online. And this is a controller-based device (yes you can attach a keyboard and mouse but that isn't very portable anymore is it) and being a controller that puts gamers using this device at a disadvantage with desktop/laptop users.
  • "Who cares," you ask? I don't expect most people to care, just MS fans who tend to frequent this site. Anyone who wants to see Windows and the MS ecosystem grow and prosper should see this as an attack on MS. I would not expect a pure gamer who doesn't care about MS or Sony or Google Stadia to care about this either, and that's fine. I hold nothing against any of those people who have different passions and preferences. However, I would also expect anyone who values intellectual property and business ethics to care. What Valve is doing here is LEGAL, but it's far from blue ocean development (meaning led by looking for a new untapped market). They're taking the investments Microsoft made to help expand its userbase and applying them to directly compete with MS. I'll use the same analogy again: it's the same as if Dell or HP released a Linux laptop that ran Windows software. If it just ran Linux software, that would be fine, but when it runs Windows software, it should include a Windows license or strike some other business deal with MS that's good for both companies. By the way, the % of customers who will rip out the included OS to install their own Windows license is close to zero (and Valve knows this). Even if I'm completely wrong and it's much larger than that, then all the more reason for Valve to offer a Windows version. They still could. If they did, and assuming it worked well, I'd be a customer, and praise that version.
  • I believe it is.
  • I don't give it much of a chance but I didn't think Disney streaming was going to catch on at that price point either. I can't imagine the controls working for FPS or ARPG games.
  • I hope this thing does fail as a product designed to run Windows games without paying Microsoft for a Windows license or partnering to include GamePass support, but even so, I must admit that the form factor is reasonable: It's basically an Xbox/PS controller with a screen in the middle. That's the standard configuration for FPS and all other console games. True, that might not be as good as mouse and keyboard for many games, but for portable play, you couldn't have those anyway. I do think the device is ugly, but that's also somewhat forgivable for a gen 1 attempt.
  • You really have a hard time understanding the concepts of licensing. I really hope Microsoft buys a Linux license for all their backend platforms like Azure. /s
  • Lol right. Def weird af comments. As if anything that runs compute power owes ms something. I pointed out that even Ms avoids running windows where they can due to costs. Like how does someone who supposedly designed restaurant tablets (I bet they don't run on windows but hey I could be wrong) have this perspective is beyond me. Lol
  • That's true, our tablet did run Linux. :-) However, we didn't promote it as running Windows games. We didn't steal from MS to do it.
  • I told you before and I'll tell you again. They aren't Window's games. They're games that run on windows. Do you know the difference and understand what you are actually writing?
  • According to Valve and Proton, they are Windows Games: https://www.protondb.com/. "Proton is a new tool released by Valve Software that has been integrated with Steam Play to make playing Windows games on Linux as simple as hitting the Play button within Steam."
  • Mister Burns, I have not said that MS powers all computers or that all software companies owe MS anything. I am referring specifically to the fact that games written for Windows use code and tools that Microsoft wrote and invested hundreds of millions of dollars in order to foster game development for Windows, which it in turn did because it wanted more users on Windows or in its GamePass ecosystem. That was a rational investment they made to achieve proper business objectives. To their intellectual credit, other third party developers have built open source code that can can parallel many of the Windows API calls. It's legal, but it's also, at best, copying MS. Still, I have no real problem with any of that. I also don't deny that Valve has a right to do what it's doing. I've tried to be clear on this distinction. However, similar to how it's news here that Sony is using Azure for its game streaming service, or that both Sony and MS were apprehensive about Google Stadia as a competitive threat, or like we criticized Google for not releasing any apps for Windows Phone (but did for iOS) and kept changing their own APIs just to break third party apps that ran on Windows Phone, there are news lines that are of interest because of the business impact to Microsoft and Windows. They are of interest here, because this is a pro-Windows site. Valve's Steam Deck, as currently being pitched to the media, is a competitive threat to Microsoft, and unnecessarily so -- there's no good reason not to also offer a version running Windows other than anti-MS spite. That's not just my paranoid view. Valve's CEO has frequently expressed this anti-MS perspective.
  • Just because a game uses api calls to windows does not give Microsoft ownership of the game. You are tripping bro. Apis are replaceable. I told you before and I will tell you again. This isn't a pro-windows site. This is a tech enthusiast site with a focus on Microsoft's products and service in CONTEXT TO OTHER TECHNOLOGIES. It's important that you realize windows central is a mobile nations partner, bro.
    The audience here is tech enthusiasts not windows fanatics. Have you noticed how your overall view on this isn't aligned or generally agreed with/accepted in the comment section? Read the room, bro. You out here looking crazy. This product will have no impact on windows growth or Microsoft flourishing bc it's in a different segment, bro. Please learn the power of possessive words and how to interpret 's' in the English language correctly, bro.
  • Mister Burns, I totally agree that MS does not own the games. If the game developers released these games for Linux, I'd fully support the whole thing. Similarly, I would also support Steam Deck if it only ran games released for Linux. My complaint (and again, not claiming Valve doesn't have the legal right to do this), is that they are taking advantage of Microsoft's investments in this space and doing it with a middle finger to MS in the process. I think most Valve fans would agree: Gabe Newell is anti-MS and anti-Windows. I'm not saying anything shocking there. I also think you're right that my view is a minority view. I'm not sure what difference that makes. Logic isn't a function of % of people who reach the same conclusion. In fact, it would be a pretty boring world if we all agreed. I respect your point of view and appreciate having this discussion with you and others here. All I'm trying to do is lay out the case and explain why, on a site primarily targeted around MS work we should at least recognize that this is an anti-MS product, more so than Playstation or Android phones or Macs. Those were all developed with their own resources and are fair competitors. Steam Deck is not as clean as those. Windows Central was originally specifically for Windows Phone users. I've been posting mostly pro-MS comments (but plenty of MS criticisms too) here since those days. The site has since morphed to cover the broader MS ecosystem as Windows Phone declined, especially in the realm of Xbox and Windows gaming, which was a great change from my perspective, because I care about gaming and have been part of the gaming industry. Windows Central does not generally cover any facets of gaming not related to MS in some way. There's no coverage of PlayStation exclusive games, for example, while there is proud coverage of MS exclusives. Yes, the site is part of Mobile Nations, but just as I wouldn't expert iMore to promote an anti-Apple product, I want to be sure there's at least a voice here (even if it's just me in the comments), on a mainly pro-MS site, to counter any blind allegiance to Valve in an anti-MS move.
  • They aren't Windows games, they are PC games, the sooner you realise this the better off you will be.
  • What development platform and tools were used? While not all games use it, many were done using Visual Studio, at least in part. What about the hardware addressing techniques of DirectX? Are the games available on Linux natively? If no, they are Windows games. Sure, there are a handful of games that are intended to run on Linux. That's obviously not all that will be running on this.
  • What does the development platform and tools have to do with ownership of games, bro?
    You gotta relax lol
  • It's not a question of ownership. The developers own the games. If MS tried to control them, I'd be here writing about how MS has no right to take or use their intellectual property. My point on calling them "Windows games" is that the developers wrote them to run on Windows. Part of the reason they chose to do that (as opposed to only releasing the game, say, on Mac or for the PlayStation) is because MS worked hard to both provide the tools to help game developers write games for Windows and also to create a huge market of Windows users by providing those users with an OS they wanted, which made Windows an attractive target for those developers. I have zero issue with Valve providing a great platform for games released by developers for Linux. That's part of what they're doing, and I support that facet of it. It's the other stuff I'm criticizing.
  • Sin Ogaris, this response is a little late, but I just caught a video on the Steam Deck where they were talking about Proton, including a clip of the Proton web site in the background: https://www.protondb.com/ You'll note they they (the Proton site) describe this exactly as I have: a way to play all those Windows games on Linux. That's the people who make Proton using that language. "Proton is a new tool released by Valve Software that has been integrated with Steam Play to make playing Windows games on Linux as simple as hitting the Play button within Steam." Their words. If you want to criticize calling them Windows games, maybe go after Valve and the Proton folks first. :-)
  • You didn't think Disney plus at 5.99 a month ($60/year) wasn't going to catch on? Really? Now at its current price, I can see its growth slowing but still a good bargain if that is the content you like. But at $5.99/month that to me that said it would sell like gangbusters. Heck as a babysitter alone it can save a parent hundreds a month :) I do agree using the Deck as a portable device the controls look like a miserable experience in many cases. Thumb cramps are incoming with those touchpads. In fact, for many games, people may find (especially if PC is how they normally play which should be most owners) that Decks controller make gameplay less fun (difficult) and gaming less capable versus gaming on their PC. Even more so if online gameplay is added to the equation. And if one were to plug in their keyboard and mouse that defeats the portability aspect and at that point, they might as well be using their PC. So time will tell how this works with those types of games.
  • I think it will, but Nintendo certainly has done quite well on Switch due to indie developers and first party games. I will be waiting until I see some reviews. Just not convinced it will really work well with every game
  • Nintendo sells well because of their first-party. Most other games have lower attachment levels compared to indies on other plats. And let's face it Nintendo games are one step above mobile quality and designed for that screen size from the get-go. Quite a difference than running a game not designed for such a small screen in the first place (even at the Deck's resolution of 720p) and calling it a day. I expect many game experiences will just not live up to this device's current hype for that reason alone.
  • I think SteamOS was problem for Steam Machines. If they figure out OS this time, that it can run all Windows games, then they could succeed. And maybe even bring back Steam Machines for people who prefer classic console + keyboard/mouse support. There were many attempts to make gaming on Linux successful, and they all failed. I don't know if Steam Machines could run Windows instead? Maybe that will be solution to their problem. There are many handheld consoles or PCs from unknown OEM's that it seems it working for them. And they are running Windows. If it pays off for them, then Valve should be able to sell much more. The key part is OS, with support for many PC games. Maybe the problem for Valve is insisting on Linux...
  • Gabe Newell hates Windows as I recall thus why Linux and not Windows. I'm sure it was related to money as well as Windows historically cost money. I honestly think this machine is a tad too nerdy for the average user in terms of the back end. To be successful it needs to play games well and easily with very few missing titles
  • Well said Monte. 100% agree.
  • Every machine is too nerdy on the backend for the average user. The goal is to make sure that the user doesn't ever see or feel that barrier during their experience with your product. That's what this OS is going for. The average doesn't care about the os. They do care about the feeling of accessibility to the game they aren't trying to play.
  • I agree that's what they are going for, but I have yet to own a steam product that didn't require more fussing than I would like and I'm at least a moderate nerd 🤓
  • *are Typo 12 ago lol
  • SteamOS should be a dirty word on Windows Central as an MS fan site. It is nothing more than a way to steal from Microsoft and Microsoft OEMs, which Gabe Newell has indirectly acknowledged on several occasions. MS has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to provide tools and technology that powers those games. MS did that to boost the value and appeal of Windows, which is important to every MS OEM. SteamOS and the Steam Deck try to get all of that without paying for it and at the same take users out of the MS ecosystem, at least on the gaming side.
  • You really have zero understanding of how Linux and free and open source software works, huh Your whole attitude in this thread is utterly disturbing. If you don't work for Microsoft it's legitimately frightening that you feel this strongly and yet are this shockingly ill informed.
  • KrashKarma, our web servers run Linux. We use many open source libraries in our product development for apps on both Android and iOS and for tools we release for Windows. I support all of that. At the same time, I respect if a company chooses to not release its proprietary software as open source. Please note that I don't claim that Valve is doing anything illegal here. On the contrary, I support their LEGAL right to do what they're doing. There is a HUGE difference between those points and not seeing this for the attack it is against Microsoft from a company who wants to fight MS, even if MS doesn't want to fight back.
  • I think expecting the Steam Deck to be a long-term competitor misses the point of it (and honestly the same with all of Valve's previous hardware). I think the real purpose behind it is promotion of the new update to SteamOS (3.0) as well as Proton (the Windows compatibility layer). And although it's not talked about, as I said this is probably also true of all Valve's previous hardware: - The Steam Machine was the flagship product for the launch of SteamOS (and Steamboxes)
    - The Steam Controller was more part of a push for better controller support across Steam (note that the Steamworks API was updated to provide a generic controller library at the same time).
    - The Steam Link set-top box was promoting the Steam Link feature and the subsequent Android and iOS apps (plus between PCs) for remote play
    - Index and Knuckles were flagships for HalfLife: Alyx, and also kinda more general OpenXR API support in Steam
  • Bingo. And I'm disappointed that Windows Central doesn't cover this as an attack on Microsoft, which is the core strategic intent by Valve with this. I'm not suggesting there's nothing positive or innovative here, but the big picture is the attack on MS. Windows Central, which generally covers gaming from an MS perspective, is completely missing that angle.
  • Windows has NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS MACHINE. Do you work for Microsoft? Or do you legitimately understand *nothing* about what you're seeing here? This is a LINUX PC that runs LINUX GAMES and uses compatability layers to redirect calls designed for Windows-based graphics APIs. They owe Microsoft exactly zero dollars for any of what they're doing. Using WINE is in absolutely no way an "attack on" Windows, one owes absolutely nothing to Microsoft for using it, and also *an attack on Windows is not an actionable offense*. In case you haven't heard, competition is a GOOD THING and is REQUIRED for a "free market". Stop being an absolute goof and shilling and "simping" for Microsoft so desperately, it's unbelievably gross.
  • KrashKharma, I am a massive advocate for the free market (see my avatar) and competition. Your statements are simply wrong here though: this does not run "Linux Games." It runs games written for Windows that Microsoft indirectly funded with its development tools and Windows ecosystem. What Valve is doing is legal. I'm not denying that. I'm also not suggesting that Valve is not looking out in part for their own business interests here. That's all fine. Nevertheless, this is a negative for Windows and for Microsoft. It shows Gabe Newell's personal agenda, which is also not particularly good for his customers or for Valve. If he were focused purely on his business he would at least ALSO offer a Windows version without the WINE requirements (yes it would cost more, and that attribute would steer some customers to the cheaper model). The fact that they don't is evidence that this is part of an anti-MS move, continuing previous similar attempts by Valve and consistent with his own words on the subject. To try to look at the positive here, I would say it's a credit to Valve for making a PC computer in this form factor. I hope it inspires others, including MS to do something similar.
  • Hoo boy, where do we even start. >"This does not run "Linux Games."" Completely wrong. Steam Deck runs SteamOS 3.0 based on Arch, a Linux distribution. Game developers like Valve and even Indie developers have a choice to provide Linux binaries for their games, which pretty much makes their games Linux Games which can be run on any suitable computer running Linux, and that Linux distro doesn't even have to be SteamOS. You can even add non-Steam Linux games to it and there are plenty. This is the functionality the Linux version of Steam supported since 2013. As the definition "Linux Game" implies, they're running natively on the Linux platform without utilizing compatibility layers like Proton. Those Linux Games are running on Linux because the developers have complete freedom to pick their target platform besides Windows and Mac and compile binaries for it. Proton, while being a compatibility layer which allows users to run games written for Windows, is a completely optional component of Steam and it can be enabled and disabled at will, thus restricting Steam to running native Linux Games only. This is absolutely acceptable if you do not mind skipping out on titles, often AAA games, which do not offer Linux binaries. So yeah, contrary to your claim, it does run Linux Games. >"It runs games written for Windows that Microsoft indirectly funded with its development tools and Windows ecosystem." If that's so, then please answer the following question: So what? Just because a game was written for Windows, it doesn't mean it will stop anyone from running it outside of Windows and Microsoft won't do anything about it, because nowadays it's simply outside of their scope of interest. They just don't care about this use case. No one, neither the developer nor the end user owe Microsoft a single dime for running those games outside of its intended environment, because it is within their freedom and possibility to do so. The developers might not explicitly support this use case, but that's still up to the game's developer and not the owner of the platform it was intended to be launched on, because in the end it's that very developer's product that's being run outside of it. The fact that people use Microsoft tools and libraries such as Visual Studio and DirectX to program games and game engines for the Windows platform changes absolutely nothing as well. Many game engines which most likely were written using Visual Studio even support Linux as a target platform. Unreal Engine, Unity, CryENGINE, Godot and even GameMaker Studio all support Linux and APIs like OpenGL and Vulkan, and can compile binaries for it. Microsoft has nothing to say in this regard too. Besides, there is plenty of free and open-source development software like QtCreator and MinGW which allows people to develop and compile apps using freely available APIs and Toolkits. Those toolkits target a multitude of platforms, Windows included. And yes, you could launch the resulting Windows binary with Proton too. Magnificent, isn't it? Do not act like the Windows API is the most sacred and untouchable thing to ever exist. Do not act like Microsoft owns PC gaming as a whole and is entitled to a reward because people are using their tools to develop games. No one owes Microsoft a single dime for running an app made for Windows outside of it. Are Linux users stealing profits from Microsoft if they run games written for Windows, outside of Windows? This is the stuff their wet dreams are made of. >"What Valve is doing is legal. I'm not denying that." No one cares. >"Nevertheless, this is a negative for Windows and for Microsoft." Selling a Linux PC which just happens to exist outside of Microsoft's realm of influence just like many other Linux offerings made before it by multiple companies does not make it an explicit negative to Microsoft. It's as negative for Microsoft as much as the Steam Machines (rip) were to the Xbox One. The mere fact that the Steam Deck popped up will not cause Microsoft to spontaneously combust, soil its undies and scramble their ideas guys to come up with ways to compete. I don't think Microsoft is under attack in any majorly threatening way by the Steam Deck whatsoever and if it really were under explicit attack, it would still remain mostly unaffected since Valve's offering is targeted at a somewhat niche market. You're giving Valve much more credit than it's possibly worth. >"It shows Gabe Newell's personal agenda, which is also not particularly good for his customers or for Valve." I don't see how this is not "particularly good" for consumers or Valve. Offering the consumer a portable PC with a customized Linux environment which lets them play games they already own on their Steam account while also offering the possibility to install additional app stores and even other operating systems as the consumer sees fit, especially Windows, is absolutely advantageous for both the consumer and Valve. If the Steam Deck turns out to be a successful product, other manufacturers, maybe even Microsoft might even follow in its footsteps and innovate upon it even further, which is something everyone wants to see, including Valve. Competition after all will result in creation of better products which further benefit the consumer by giving them choice of hardware that's most tailored to their needs and covering multiple use cases at once. But let's ignore all of this and focus on how it's hurting the poor chaps at Microsoft. >"I am a massive advocate for the free market (see my avatar) and competition." Suddenly free market isn't so cool anymore when it lets Gaben avoid your dear beloved favorite company innit bruv. May I never see you on this thread ever again.
  • Pirunvirsi, I agree with a lot of what you wrote and I appreciate your laying out your arguments clearly and in a compelling way. I wish you hadn't ended with the negative "May I never see you on this thread ever again." We're all friends here at Windows Central, even if we disagree. To clarify my "It does not run Linux games," that was in the context of responding to a point that the games it runs are not Windows games. You are, of course correct, that it ALSO runs Linux games, so I'll grant you that my wording was poor there. My point is that it is not LIMITED TO LINUX games, thanks to (and I respect the software development that enables it) the API compatibility layer(s) like WINE. I was actually excited by WINE back around 2000 when Corel released a version of WordPerfect Office for Linux using WINE. But that was their own software. The difference here is that Valve is helping games written for Windows (enabled in part by investments by MS) to run on a non-Windows system. When Apple promoted that you could run Windows applications on Macs, they accomplished this by having customers buy a license from Microsoft. Even Parallels, the great PC emulator for Mac, requires a Windows license to run Windows under Parallels. As a Microsoft fan, that's my sole complaint here with the Steam Deck -- it's running Windows software while cheating MS out of the license or providing some other benefit back to MS for taking advantage of MS' investments in this space, without which many of these games wouldn't exist. When Linus Torvalds announced his Linux OS as a demonstration of the power of open source software, he didn't suggest the goal was to steal Windows or Mac software, but rather to provide better mechanism for developing new software for free. Huge difference between those. If a developer wants to make its games available on Linux (or Mac or Sony Playstation), great that's their prerogative. I disagree with your point that the fact that MS spent money developing tools to help create games means I can't use that as a reason to resent Valve and the Steam Deck. If you went to your job for years, worked hard, and then someone else got a promotion at your company by taking credit for your work and then turned around and used the power from that promotion to demote or transfer you to some new role you didn't want, you would reasonably be frustrated and angry with that person. That's exactly what Valve is doing here to Microsoft -- they're riding on Microsoft's effort and then taking users away from MS (i.e., some of these users might otherwise use GamePass or even buy the game in the MS Store). Steam Deck and SteamOS are closer to the ROM knockoffs that allow people to play old console and arcade games on their PCs, though I'll acknowledge not quite as bad, because SteamOS is at least legal. Of course you're also right that MS won't wither and die because of this. But that's not the point at all. The fact that MS is big enough to survive this theft and unethical behavior doesn't make it right. Insurance companies survive insurance fraud. Governments survive tax fraud. Walmart survives shoplifters. You said you don't see how this is not good for Valve's customers. The existence if a Steam Deck is fine for Valve's customers. What's not good is the fact that (out of anti-MS spite) they are not also offering a version running on Windows, which would solve the problem where it's missing a bunch of games that can only run on Windows. That's a tactical choice that only serves as a shiv to MS. If their focus were purely on market success and serving their customers, they would offer the Linux version as the cheaper model and a Windows version that runs everything at a premium price point (due to the cost of the Windows license). Competition is GREAT. Most powerful feature in improving pricing, products, and technology for all of us. Sony and Xbox compete. Fair. Mac and Windows compete. Fair. Google search and Bing compete. Fair. Android, iOS, and Windows Phone compete. Fair. Steam Deck running Windows games, using MS' own development to take away MS customers, not so fair, at least not from an MS perspective. If I hated MS, then maybe I'd have no problem with this and figure MS had it coming. Look, Valve has done a lot of great things for games and gamers. I respect that. But they also do some things that force those of us who are MS fans to resent them. To be very clear: I support Valve's legal right to do this. But just because something is not a crime, does not make it right, especially for those of us who are here on Windows Central, because we're Windows and MS fans. If I were in Gabe Newell's place, I would not let my company behave this way. I practice blue ocean marketing and product development -- find untapped markets and go there to create new sources of revenue and expand the options available to customers, as opposed to red ocean, sharks and blood in the water from just attacking a competitor.
  • Still at it, huh? >"We're all friends here at Windows Central, even if we disagree." No, we are not. >"You are, of course correct, that it ALSO runs Linux games, so I'll grant you that my wording was poor there." Wrong. It does not "also" run Linux games. It runs Linux games, full stop. SteamOS was explicitly designed to do so and there are no "ifs", "buts" and "alsos". >"The difference here is that Valve is helping games written for Windows (enabled in part by investments by MS) to run on a non-Windows system." Well then, let me reiterate my question: So what? As I said in my previous message, this changes nothing. Microsoft already got what they want out of this by getting payments from licensing the tools to the teams developing the actual games - and the developers of these games have complete control over what they have developed and how, not Microsoft. The end users then pay for these games and they're free to play them on Windows which is the most likely scenario. Most people who play games own a PC running Windows, but nothing stops them from playing them on any compatible environment, such as Linux. Why shouldn't they play those games if Proton enables it? After all, they buy the game to enjoy the game and not the innermost workings of the Windows API and Microsoft's investments that most likely have already been returned. >"When Apple promoted that you could run Windows applications on Macs, they accomplished this by having customers buy a license from Microsoft. Even Parallels, the great PC emulator for Mac, requires a Windows license to run Windows under Parallels." None of which are what's going on here. And no, Parallels is not an emulator, it runs a separate instance of Windows in a virtualized environment. Running an instance of a full version of Windows on any machine, whether it's bare metal or virtual, requires a license, regardless if it's run on Parallels, VirtualBox, Hyper-V, QEMU, you name it. With WINE, you skip out on the requirement to run an instance of Windows entirely, as the corresponding API calls are translated for Linux. There is no virtualization going on here, as the program runs directly on the host operating system with help of a compatibility layer. There's no Windows involved in this process. Microsoft, again, ain't got a single thing to be entitled for. >"it's running Windows software while cheating MS out of the license or providing some other benefit back to MS for taking advantage of MS' investments in this space, without which many of these games wouldn't exist." The question in this scenario would once again be: So what? Guess it must be true that Linux users are indeed stealing profits from Microsoft en masse because they are refusing them their righteous and well-deserved payment for running a Windows game on Linux, according to your logic. Oh yeah, and... what benefit, exactly? Microsoft once again is in no position to be entitled to absolutely anything from the end user who runs a Windows game on Linux with Proton/WINE, because Windows and its licensing are completely excluded from this scenario. Again, stop acting like Microsoft owns PC gaming and is entitled to a reward because people are using their tools to develop games. It's simply not the case, no matter how you imply it. >"they're riding on Microsoft's effort and then taking users away from MS" What effort? SteamOS isn't riding much on pretty much anything directly related to Microsoft now innit? And like I said in my previous message, the mere existence of SteamOS will not suddenly cause a big chunk of users to flock from Windows to SteamOS. >"I disagree with your point that the fact that MS spent money developing tools to help create games means I can't use that as a reason to resent Valve and the Steam Deck." Yep, you can't use that as a reason because it's invalid. Microsoft is not under attack and it's not being robbed of anything. Frankly, your continuous insistence all over this thread that it is, is quite telling that you neither understand licensing, the purpose of Steam Deck, SteamOS and free and open-source software in general, nor do you want to. >"Steam Deck and SteamOS are closer to the ROM knockoffs that allow people to play old console and arcade games on their PCs" Wrong. SteamOS and Steam for Linux are simply another ways for the end user to play games they already own on their Steam account, on a computer running Linux. How exactly you came up with your invalid analogy will be pretty much beyond anyone commenting in this article. >"The fact that MS is big enough to survive this theft and unethical behavior doesn't make it right." Wrong. I'd put this stance somewhere in between disgruntled Microsoft shareholder sentiments and blatant trolling. There's nothing in it that could even remotely be described as theft from Microsoft. Again, Microsoft is not under attack and it's not being robbed of anything. >"What's not good is the fact that (out of anti-MS spite) they are not also offering a version running on Windows, which would solve the problem where it's missing a bunch of games that can only run on Windows." They won't offer a Windows version because they have SteamOS. How exactly is it "not good" that Valve is offering a customized platform built on top of free and open-source software which can be tweaked and modified by the end user to suit their needs? By letting the end user install Windows by themselves which solves the problems with a chunk of Games best played on Windows, which is something they even admitted on their Q&A videos? Something doesn't quite add up here, don't you think? >"That's a tactical choice that only serves as a shiv to MS." Well then, what do you suggest they should do about it? EEE the development of all the involved free and open-source components? I'd like to see them try. Or they could just make a competing product if it gains attention. >"Steam Deck running Windows games, using MS' own development to take away MS customers, not so fair, at least not from an MS perspective." It's not using MS' own development, it's using the free and open source community's WINE, DXVK and VKD3D development with Valve's involvement, all of which is bundled together in Proton and even given back to the community. All of those existed for a long while and if you bring those up to Microsoft, they'll just shrug. The most that's to be expected from Microsoft is that they simply won't support this use case themselves, because they already know they're out of the equation. >"Valve has done a lot of great things for games and gamers. I respect that. But they also do some things that force those of us who are MS fans to resent them." cry me a river lmao Good thing you don't represent Microsoft fans as a whole. Not even they would want to stand behind the claims you continue to make in this thread.
  • Pirunvirsi, I'm not sure why you push the "we're not friends" just because we disagree. First rule of any discussion is to respect all opinions. We're both gaming and tech fans, so if we met in the real world, I assume we would get along fine. I see you're a pretty big Steam user based on your avatar and note about owning over 2,000 games through Steam. That's fine and I respect you're a serious gamer (admire it even) and a Steam fan -- absolutely no problem with that either. Just like Bleached, who also trolls here on Windows Central for Google, everyone is welcome. I've not seen you post much here on Windows Central before. Obviously, you have as much right to post here as anyone, but please don't post as if you speak for all users at Windows Central and suggest that I'm trolling or the problem. This is an MS fan site not a Steam fan site. You are saying a few things that are fundamentally incorrect. The core problem is the assumption behind your statement, "Microsoft already got what they want out of this by getting payments from licensing the tools to the teams developing the actual games." This is wrong. Microsoft did not invest in creating Visual Studio for the revenue they make on sales of Visual Studio. In fact, that's the least of the reasons they created it. They create tools for developers to encourage software be written for Windows, because they know Windows and the entire MS ecosystem is dependent on continued software development so users don't drift away to alternatives. Steve Ballmer's core message to the Microsoft teams during his tenure was: "Developers, Developers, Developers," to instill a culture at MS where they do everything they can to attract developers to create works for Windows. It was MS failure to do this well that led to the loss of Windows Phone, which is the spiritual foundation for Windows Central's existence. In other words, they make these investments precisely to obviate the need for alternatives, exactly like the Steam Deck. Most of your other points are based on that incorrect assumption. One other point you disputed is an ethical one. I don't presume to foist my ethics on you, but I have not heard any version of ethics which says that taking the work of others is OK, as long as it's from someone big enough to afford the losses. At best, that's a rationalization for bad behavior. And "cry me a river", really? :-) I think you have that backwards. If MS wanted, they could squash Valve like a bug. It's Microsoft's benevolence and support for Steam and other third-party stores in Windows that have helped Valve prosper. I think it's not too smart of Valve to keep biting at one of the hands that feeds them (I'll fully admit they are more dependent on game studios and customers than on MS). At some point, MS may get fed up with Valve's infantile, spoiled-brat behavior and stop he