Steam Deck Price Point Was ‘Painful’ For Valve, Says Gabe Newell
Valve recently announced the Steam Deck, a powerful portable PC releasing later this year to presumably fill the void left by the absence of a bonafide Nintendo Switch Pro. The hardware comes in three different versions all shipping out this December, ranging from $399 for the base form all the way up to $649 for the premium model, spinning rims and all. While Valve expects to sell ‘millions’ of units, choosing the price point was still ‘painful’ for the company, according to Gabe Newell.
Introducing Steam Deck: powerful, portable PC gaming starting at $399. Designed by Valve, powered by Steam. Shipping December 2021.
— Steam (@Steam) July 15, 2021
Speaking with IGN, the Valve president confirmed that the pricing for the Steam Deck is intentionally “very aggressive”, with the base form running for just $50 more than Nintendo’s newly announced Switch OLED. According to Newell, the primary focus was to be able to pick up the Steam Deck and feel like it works perfectly as a device, though the price point was also “one of the critical factors in the mobile space” and not something that could be ignored. “I want to pick this up and say, oh, it all works. It’s all fast. It’s all… and then price point was secondary and painful. But that was pretty clearly a critical aspect to it,” Newell said.
But the first thing was the performance and the experience, [that] was the biggest and most fundamental constraint that was driving this.”
The design team was naturally aware of what Valve’s overall focus was in creating the Steam Deck, with Valve hardware director Shreya Liu acknowledging such. “We knew that the price point was very important,” Liu said, “so […] from the beginning, we designed with that in mind, and we worked very, very hard to achieve the price point that we’re at.”
Liu and the team seem to have succeeded in that regard, with there being no in-game difference in graphics quality or frame rate between all three models. The team at Valve didn’t skimp on the outer casing either, with designer John Ikeda confirming that the goal was for the Steam Deck to be “premium in feel” as well as in looks.
We weren’t going to sacrifice those, so balancing that in this atmosphere of supply chain and manufacturing toughness, was something that we knew from the very beginning that we weren’t going to sacrifice, so we needed to find a way.”
The Steam Deck starts shipping in December 2021. Those looking to reserve one can do so right here.
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Ryan "Cinna" Carrier2987 Posts
Ryan is the Lead Editor for Don't Feed the Gamers. When he isn't writing, Ryan is likely considering yet another playthrough of Final Fantasy IX. He's also the DFTG cinnamon bun.