Performance was the priority, but balancing that with cost is 'a critical aspect' too.
Valve unveiʟᴇᴅ tʜᴇ Sᴛᴇᴀᴍ Deck pᴏʀtᴀʙʟᴇ PC ᴛᴏᴅᴀʏ, a sᴡᴇet ᴘɪᴇᴄᴇ ᴏꜰ hᴀɴdʜᴇld ʜᴀʀᴅwᴀʀᴇ wɪᴛh sᴏᴍᴇ pʀᴇᴅictably stɪꜰf prɪᴄᴇ tags: $399 ꜰᴏʀ tʜᴇ 64GB unɪᴛ, $529 ꜰᴏʀ tʜᴇ 256GB, ᴀɴd $649 ꜰᴏʀ 512GB. Speakɪɴg ᴛᴏ IGN, Gaʙᴇ Neᴡᴇll sᴀɪᴅ Valve ɪs ᴀᴄᴛuᴀʟʟy ʙᴇɪɴg "ᴠᴇʀʏ aggressive" ᴏɴ tʜᴇ pricɪɴg, ʙᴇᴄᴀᴜsᴇ ꜰɪɴᴅɪɴg tʜᴇ ʀɪɢʜᴛ balᴀɴce ʙᴇtᴡᴇen prɪᴄᴇ ᴀɴd perꜰᴏʀmᴀɴce "ɪs ɢᴏɪɴg ᴛᴏ ʙᴇ ᴏɴe ᴏꜰ tʜᴇ crɪᴛical fᴀᴄᴛᴏʀs ɪɴ tʜᴇ mobile sᴘᴀᴄᴇ." But ʜᴇ emphᴀsɪᴢᴇd thᴀᴛ perꜰᴏʀmᴀɴce wᴀs Valve's ꜰɪʀsᴛ ᴀɴd ꜰᴏʀeᴍᴏsᴛ cᴏɴcern.More on Steam Deck
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"I want to pick this up and say, 'Oh, it all works, it's all fast'," Newell said. "And then price point was secondary, and painful. But that was pretty clearly a critical aspect to it. The first thing was the performance and the experience, [that] was the biggest and most fundamental constraint that was driving us."
And despite the high cost (which, to be fair, doesn't strike me as entirely unreasonable for what is essentially a full-on PC packaged like a Nintendo Switch), Newell has pretty great expectations for Valve, and portable PC gaming as a whole.
"Our view is, if we're doing this right, we're going to be selling these in millions of units, and it's clearly going to be establishing a product category that ourselves and other PC manufacturers are going to be able to participate in," he said. "And that's going to have long-term benefits for us. So that's sort of the frame in which we're thinking about this.
"We don't have some tie-in ratio—we don't say, 'Oh, and then we have to sell eight games for each one of these, otherwise it doesn't make sense.' Our calculus is more, 'Is this the right product, and is it a great way to test out the assumption that there's a huge amount of value, both to game players and game developers, to extending the PC ecosystem in this direction. That's the real test, more than anything else."
Valve competitor Tim Sweeney of Epic Games likes the handheld, too: He called it an "amazing move" by Valve.
Reservations for Steam Deck purchases will open on Friday, July 16, and units are expected to begin shipping in December. You can find out more about the unit, and put your name on the list if you're interested, at steamdeck.com.