This Week in Gaming: The Steam Deck, Netflix, and Super Mario 64
This week started off very slow when out of nowhere, Valve dropped some very important hardware news on us. We also learned that Netflix is trying to break into gaming, auction fever is seizing the retro gaming world, and more games are being delayed into next year.
Valve announces the handheld Steam Deck
On the very day that the Nintendo Switch OLED pre-orders opened up — probably just a coincidence — Valve announced its own handheld device: the Steam Deck. This mini-PC will reportedly run any AAA game and can also be used like a traditional PC. The Steam Deck runs SteamOS 3.0 based on Arch Linux, and it features Valve’s Proton compatibility layer to run many games built for Windows. It has a built-in 7-inch display with a 720p screen but will be accompanied by a dock that lets it connect to an external display at resolutions up to 8K. It’s more or less the Switch Pro that the OLED model wasn’t.
In lieu of pre-orders, Valve used a system called reservations, in which users could reserve a console for a small fee ahead of its launch in December. This was intended to cut down on bulk buys by scalpers, as you could only buy the console through Steam, needed to have an account that’s made a previous purchase on the platform, and could only purchase one Deck per account. The system opened up with some issues — and scalpers are already popping up with listings on eBay — but it seems that people were generally able to get a reservation in.
Super Mario 64 sells for over $1.5 million at auction
A sealed copy of Super Mario 64 became the highest-priced game of all time when it sold at Heritage Auctions for a whopping $1.56 million. The game was worth so much mostly because of its near-perfect condition — it achieved a very rare 9.8 Wata score, which is a score given by retro gaming graders Wata Games based on how pristine both the game and its packaging are. It topped the previous record holder, a sealed copy of The Legend of Zelda, which sold at the same auction house shortly before Super Mario 64 for $870,000.
There’s a bit of auction fever in the retro gaming world right now, as mint copies of old games are practically tripping over each other to set record prices. The copy of Super Mario 64 was just the latest treasure to accrue a huge number at Heritage Auctions. The auction house has been regularly dealing in gaming rarities since the Nintendo PlayStation was sold there last year. It was also the place that sold a sealed copy of Super Mario Bros for $660K earlier this year.
Netflix reportedly wants to join the video game market
A report from Bloomberg this week hinted that Netflix has designs on the world of cloud gaming. The streaming service has a new initiative to add cloud gaming to its platform, and the initiative is headed up by former EA executive Mike Verdu. Allegedly this new service will be added at no additional cost to subscribers. It’s an intriguing idea, but we still lack details on how exactly this will work.
The gaming market is no doubt attractive to Netflix as it looks for new avenues of growth. There’s no word exactly on how gaming is going to be worked into Netflix’s platform — will they be simple games, suitable for mobile devices, or AAA console titles streamed to Netflix? The company is allegedly working on a cloud gaming service, but we don’t know what that will look like within the service.
Even more games get delayed
Unfortunately, there’s some negative news this week. Yet more games have been delayed, either to later this year or until 2022. The worst delays are the ones with only a vague new release window. First, we heard that Ghostwire: Tokyo, one of two upcoming Bethesda PlayStation timed exclusives, is being delayed from October 2021 to early 2022. Capcom also announced that it was delaying the multiplayer title Resident Evil Re:Verse at the last minute from July 2021 to sometime in 2022.
At the very end of the week, Ubisoft revealed that it was delaying both Rainbow Six Extraction and Riders Republic, two of its major tentpole releases for this fiscal year. In both cases, it said the games needed more development time. Extraction is delayed from September 16, 2021 to January 2022. Riders Republic is delayed from September 2 to October 28. These are far from the only delays so far this year, but it’s still disappointing.