On July 15, Valve announced its portable handheld Steam Deck completely out of the blue, with pre-orders beginning July 16. Valve doesn’t publicly release sales information, but SteamDB’s Pavel Djundik estimated that there were 110,000 sold in the first 90 minutes.
Certainly, there were enough pre-orders that Steam had lots of issues handling the influx. I was fortunate to get my pre-order made less than an hour after they opened up, and Steam is currently estimating that I’ll be able to actually purchase the device in the first quarter of 2022.
Although Valve did run into some problems because of the volume of orders, the way it did the pre-orders were a model of how other companies should manage these things.
Consider the Xbox Series X, which was launched on November 10, 2020. I would love to buy one of these, but Microsoft makes it all but impossible to do so. With production limited by pandemic-related shortages, it releases batches to retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart, Target, etc. But those batches are quickly snapped up by scalpers who relist them on eBay. While the console has a retail price of $500, the cost on eBay is in the $600-$800 range. And no offense to anyone, but I’m just not interested in buying a new console outside of an established retail supply chain.
Valve, however, made the smart move of limiting the initial Steam Deck pre-orders only to people who had made purchases on their Steam account before June 2021. This meant scalpers were largely shut out of the pre-order queue for the first 48 hours.
A Portable Gaming PC?
The device itself is also incredibly appealing to me. The whole scene around gaming PCs where people debate and try different motherboards, graphics cards, CPUs, etc., to squeeze every last possible FPS out of available hardware is awesome. But it’s not for me.
I currently do all of my PC gaming on a three-year-old Dell laptop with a GTX 1050. If the Steam Deck lives up to even half of its hype, I’ll use this to ditch my Dell and use it as my primary gaming PC with a USB-C dock.