Even though the new Steam Deck has some physical similarities with the Nintendo Switch when you look at it, there are still some obvious differences between them and Valve has considered a number of things before designing the new portable game console.
“We’ve done a ton of testing on reliability, on all fronts really – and all inputs and different environmental factors and all that kind of stuff,” said hardware engineer Yazan Aldehayyat. “I mean, obviously every part will fail at some point, but we think people will be very satisfied and happy with this,” he added.
Designer John Ikeda backed this up, adding that Valve “purposely picked something that we knew the performance of” because “we didn’t want to take a risk on that.”
“I’m sure our customers didn’t want us to take a risk on that either,” he added.
And the fact that no one wants their hardware to fail by any means, the failure of the device could put a dent on Valve’s image as it tries to take on the established game console maker Nintendo whose iconic analogue sticks are good.
While the Nintendo Switch lets you simply disconnect a faulty Joy-Con and attach a fresh one in its place, the Steam Deck is a single unit more akin to the Switch Lite: if repairs were required on a stick, the whole unit would need to be shipped back to Valve. Add in the fact that, for now, the Steam Deck is not a mass-market product with plenty of spare parts to go around, and you can see why Valve wanted to ensure this problem was mitigated as much as possible ahead of release.
Then Valve also needs to ensure the Steam Deck will integrate well enough with the Steam OS as its Proton software and there’s a rising concern that games with anti-cheat software currently don’t work with Proton and that includes big titles like Destiny 2, Apex Legends and PUBG.
It’s unsurprising, therefore, that Valve is working hard to fix this problem ahead of units arriving in early adopters’ hands in December. “For Deck, we’re vastly improving Proton’s game compatibility and support for anti-cheat solutions by working directly with the vendors,” the company writes.