Despite spending over a decade in games media, I’ve never been a PC gamer. I played PC games a bit in my youth, but I transitioned into a short-lived career in graphic design – where the Mac reigned supreme – at the same time the PC hardware arms race accelerated. As a result, PC games have long felt out of my reach, both financially and practically. Even if I could afford it, I didn’t have the means to build a PC, I’d heard mixed things about prefab gaming rigs, and I didn’t have time to educate myself on one. was I settled in a place where PC gaming always felt like it would be foreign and obnoxious. It was against this background that the Steam deck arrived, effectively removing most of the barriers that stood between me and the community of PC gamers.
Cost was certainly an important consideration. At around $500 for a mid-range model, the Steam Deck is about half the price of many standard pre-built gaming PCs, and roughly on par with gaming consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X. This made it an easy pill. Swallow, and a good starting point for me having built up a pretty small library of Steam games over the years and just wanted to dip a toe in regardless.
It was a good value in part because of its other key feature, its form factor. The Steam Deck is first and foremost a portable PC, which undoubtedly appeals to seasoned PC gamers looking to take their games on the go. I came at it from the other side, though, as a dedicated Nintendo Switch fan who just loves portable gaming. I play a lot of games on my consoles, but portables have always fit better in my life, purely in terms of convenience. I feel more at home gaming on the go, so the Steam Deck pitch for a portable PC definitely stood out to me because of the portable part. It wasn’t a new way to run my PC library, but a new platform entirely that was already similar in function and form to another platform I love: the Switch.
Perhaps most importantly, Steam Deck felt welcoming and user-friendly, unlike traditional PC gaming that, at least from the outside, looked intimidating. I didn’t have to fiddle with settings or install drivers or worry about trial and error for optimal performance. I can buy a certified game from the deck, download it, and in most cases it will work. I would curl up on my couch watching TV and play within minutes. It felt comfortable from the start.
And to my surprise, all of these qualities make Steam Deck an excellent set of PC training wheels as well. Tinkering isn’t required, but it’s also not discouraged. Some of my favorite voices in games media have talked about how easy and fun it’s been for them to break out of the safe confines of the Steam Deck UI and experiment with custom firmware, alternative storefronts, or other settings. I’ve only dabbled so far, but it’s nice to know that I can have both: the ability to use a walkthrough to run something custom like Game Pass streaming, and then for more tension. Ability to go back to the familiar Steam Deck UI. Free and smooth experience.
To be sure, Steam Deck has its share of problems. It’s huge, the fan can be loud and the vents sometimes get hot, games crash more often than traditional consoles, features like background updates are inconsistent, and its battery life leaves much to be desired. leaves It feels like a first draft of Valve’s ambitious ideas, not the final version. I miss the original big Nintendo DS, which was later replaced by the much more streamlined DS Lite. In all likelihood, there will probably be a beautiful Steam Deck version as well.
And when it does, I’ll probably buy it. I love my Steam deck, not only for all the great gaming experiences it’s given me this year, but for helping me join a community that previously felt impenetrable. I’m a PC gamer now, albeit a kid. But who knows? Maybe one day I’ll even get a proper desktop gaming rig. After all, I’m building a respectable Steam library.
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