Steam Deck prototypes give us a closer look at what could have been

Steam Deck prototypes give us a closer look at what could have been

The Steam Deck is a big old hector, but surprisingly comfortable to use for something so large. The final form of Valve’s first handheld could have been much different, though. A standard part of engineering a new piece of hardware is the prototype stage, and we can now see a selection of those all together.

It comes via Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais, part of the Steam Deck team. Apparently, as part of the launch event in Asia, Valve wheeled out some of its work-in-progress designs. And there’s one, in particular, that looks quite striking.

There’s a distinct overall form factor going on throughout, with the sloped front corners present on each. But the central device is arguably the most striking. It almost looks like a Steam Controller with a display in the middle. While arguably the best looking, it clearly didn’t hit the marks Valve was looking for in terms of ergonomics. It was much flatter, but ultimately seems to have played its part.

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Given the size of the Steam Deck, the ergonomics were always going to be crucial. The fact that the final design essentially has a handle on each side makes it easy to hold. Compare this to the Nintendo Switch, which personally gives me serious aches in my hands and wrists with its much flatter design. So I think Valve made the right call on the comfort front.

It’s always neat to see this type of product journey, though, and by all accounts, Valve has struck gold with the final Steam Deck. Even as production is ramping up the company is still in the process of shipping pre-orders around seven months after it began. There are now over 5,000 verified playable titles, and Steam OS continues to improve almost weekly. It’s a good time to be a handheld gamer.

About author

Richard Devine
Richard Devine

Editor at XDA, I've been covering tech for over a decade from mobile to gaming and everything in between. Direct enquiries to [email protected]

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