Exclusive Interview with The Steam Deck Team – Extending Gaming Beyond The Desktop PC

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For as long as I’ve been gaming, Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft were the three pillars of gaming in terms of hardware ever since Sega took their hat out of the ring. There was always the home PC, but nobody ever considered that to be a singular entity. Valve’s looking to change that however when earlier in 2022, it launched the Steam Deck, finally bringing in what seems to be new competition to the hardware game.

Valve isn’t exactly secretive with its intent on tackling hardware. We’ve seen this numerous times with the Steam Machine, Steam OS, Steam Controller, Steam VR, and even Steam Link to tackle cloud gaming. It seems Valve has created every kind of gaming peripheral they Valve could think of, with varying degrees of success. Now Valve seems to have found its winner with its portable powerhouse, the Steam Deck.

The prospect of having a handheld gaming PC is an enticing one. One that has proved so popular with gamers that it has its own waiting list just to pre-order the thing, even with a price tag exceeding its console competitors. With Valve now looking to make a splash with The Steam Deck in Asia, QooApp was invited to visit Valve’s headquarters in Seattle to talk with designer Jay Shaw, and engineer Pierre-Loup Griffais, to get some insight into how they designed the Steam Deck, their current plans, what’s in store for its future.

The Culmination of 10 Years of Experience: The Steam Deck

Q: Can you guys please Introduce yourselves and your role in Steam Deck’s development?

Pierre-Loup: So I’m Pierre Loup, I’m an engineer working on Steam Deck,  I’ve been working on the OS, games compatibility, graphics driver, and all that.

Jay: I’m Jay Shaw, I’m a designer working on Steam Deck, and I work on a lot of the UI and the Steam Store.

Steam Deck
Left: Pierre-Loup Griffais, Right: Jay Shaw

Q: So How did the Steam Deck come about?

Pierre Loup: For us, the Steam Deck is about pushing Steam, and PC gaming in general to other form factors. It’s something we’ve been working on for quite a bit as part of various different hardware efforts. For the past 10 years at Valve, we’ve been trying to understand how Steam and PC gaming in general, could be instantiated in different forms and different use cases that aren’t just sitting at a desk with a keyboard and mouse.

So we tried expanding it to the living room with remote play and we did a bunch of different things with the idea and at some point came to the conclusion that something like the Steam Deck would be possible, which is kind of the ultimate destination for PC gaming.

Everything you need to fully experience PC gaming and its entire catalog it has to offer in a single, all-in-one package without compromises.

Q: So with Valve’s history of hardware development like the Steam Machine, Steam Link, and Steam Controller. As the successor how many features from these devices were integrated into the Steam Deck?

Pierre-Loup: Pretty much everything that we’ve learned through developing these pieces of hardware has been incorporated and even I would say, necessary for the Steam Deck to some extent. Like the input hardware of the controller, and also of the software technologies around Steam Input, the advanced remapping, rebinding layer, and all of that stuff has been a really strong component of how the Steam Deck has been compatible with a wide variety of genres for PC games. 

Steam remote play, which we developed alongside Steam Link, has been integrated into the Steam Deck and you can use it to play more demanding games from your PC remotely. Our experience with Steam Machine lead to the development of STEAM OS, Vulkan, and Proton which is an incredibly important component of the Steam Deck, and our experience working on Virtual Reality gave us a lot of experience with displays and audio, and just increasing our production capabilities as well which was very important for bringing Steam Deck to the market.

So I think it’s fair to say we couldn’t have made the Steam Deck without the past 10 years of hardware development at Valve.

Q: How should we describe the Steam Deck? Is it a portable PC, or a handheld game console?

Jay: Portable gaming PC would be most appropriate, yeah.

Pierre-Loup: It’s a PC right, there are no two ways about it. It’s much closer to a PC than a console I think, and there are a couple of things we’ve done with it to streamline the default experience with Steam OS like adding deck verification, which is like an extra service on top of what we usually do to advertise the best experiences. That means that some people might choose to experience it closer to a console, where they don’t want to tinker or tweak anything to get a good experience, and we try to provide them the tools for that.

But at the end of the day, if you want to peel off these layers and use it like a PC, you’re more than welcome to and I think most of the users so far have been using some sort of PC functionality to get more out of the deck.

Jay: Yeah we’ve seen so many use cases creatively where people are using it as a music workstation or a kind of portable creation device. People even make games on it which is really neat so it is cool to see that some users are almost abandoning the gaming aspect of it and instead are more interested in the creative side of the Steam Deck.

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The Steam Deck running Steam, Blender, Discord, and Youtube simultaneously.

We Want Players to Play With This Anywhere

Q: So we saw on the packaging of the Steam Deck box a lot of different languages describing the system and where you can use it. What kind of scenarios or places did the Steam Deck team want players to use it in?

Jay: At first we thought it’d be funny just to have the inside of the packaging show you all the places you can play. And then we realized we really do want players to be able to play anywhere and everywhere, and as we started to come up with those, we then worked with the localization team to translate it to different languages and places that would be appropriate in those regions.

So to make it as inclusive as possible because we want to communicate that the Steam Deck is for everybody, we tried to include as many languages as we could.

Q: For players who already have a gaming PC at home, how can the Steam Deck help them expand their gaming experience?

Jay: Oh yeah, that was kind of one of our biggest goals. For players that already have a Steam library and already use a PC at home, this truly extends gaming well past wherever their PC is.

So you can take that Steam library now to the couch, go outside with it, bring it to work, on your commute, on a plane, or traveling, and the idea is that these players are already invested in PC gaming and Steam, so we really wanted to give them the opportunity to take these games everywhere, and that’s how I use it and that’s how a lot of us do.

Pierre-Loup: Yeah, even without going out of the house like, not being tethered to your desktop can be pretty useful to reconnect with other people in your house, you know as opposed to having to go to another room while playing your game, you can be hanging out on the coach.

And I think it will also help expand the types of games you play, you know maybe there are games they’d prefer to play on their normal setup or some games they would otherwise not play like smaller games or games that you just play for a couple of minutes at a time, you can now experience them on the Steam Deck.

So I think it’s really about the situation and expanding the types of games they play as well. That’s really what we were thinking of going in, and then as we were in the middle of Steam Deck development, the 2020 pandemic happened. So that was interesting as well because a lot of people started working from home and we had people telling us “I’ve been working for 8 or 10 hours on my PC at home, I normally want to play games on my PC but instead I want to disconnect and hang out somewhere else”.

So we got a lot of feedback at that point that the Steam Deck prototypes were important for these people because they can change where they want to play games and disconnect themselves from work which was very interesting to hear.

Jay: I also found that my son and I played a lot of games together, and both of us have a Steam Deck so we play OUTRIDERS or any of these multiplayer together in the same room we’d be kind of hanging out on the couch comfortably playing a game together and I’m able to yell at him “Go over there and get that thing, go run down there and do this!” and it was so neat to be able to do that.

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Steam Deck’s packaging

Q: So at the moment it requires basically two systems to run a multiplayer game together. Is the Steam Deck going to be able to handle split screen or other multiplayer games on the same device?

Jay: Oh yeah, it’s a PC so any game that allows for couch coop, you can do that. You can hook up a couple of controllers if you’d like to, you can use that as a display with the controllers,  plug it into an external display like a TV or anything else and use this as a PC and have everyone else playing together I’ve been doing that a lot with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, which is great with six player coop.

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Q: Will we have Steam Deck Exclusive games in the future?

Jay: We’re not interested in exclusive games. I mean if the game is made for PC, we believe it should be playable on all PCs, including the Steam Deck.

Steam Deck: If We’ve Done Our Job Right, You Won’t Even Know

Q: One feature that I love about the Steam Deck, is the Haptic feedback from the Trackpad that makes movement and aiming to feel very accurate compared to a controller. So what was the thought process behind adding LRA motors to the Trackpads?

Pierre-Loup: This is something we had been designing and experimenting with as early as the Steam controller. In fact, it’s one of the first things we’ve done along with the hardware in 2012 or so and kept expanding on it since back then there weren’t many devices that used LRA’s (Linear Resonant Actuators) like that. I think we were actually one of the first companies to experiment with that and bring a solution to the market.

The idea behind using those for haptic feedback on the Trackpad is they accurately communicate pin-pointed ticks as opposed to diffused vibrations. So we use them for two things: One was for the Steam controller, to help give you accurate feedback on the distance you travel with the trackpad. When you have fixed sensitivity without acceleration and a one-to-one ratio of movement on the screen with the cursor or the camera, having that bit of extra feedback at fixed intervals, actually helps you react quicker, and lets you gauge the distance better. So it lets people be more proficient at aiming in the same distance every time because they feel the same amount of ticks, which is super important for fast-paced games and games needing a cursor.

The other thing that was added this time around that didn’t used to exist, is back then our Trackpad had a physical click to it, like the Trackpad could be like a button. This time we’ve moved the click to be more virtual so instead of a pressure-sensitive Trackpad and we use the LRA to communicate a click feel when you pass the threshold where it would register as a click, and this means that now you can use the Trackpad for pressure-sensitive actions and also for very heavy actions.

So before you’d have this issue where using a Trackpad for a heavy FPS camera aiming you’d have to be gentle with the trackpad otherwise you’d accidentally register a click. Now you can tweak the sensitivity so that it requires higher pressures to say fire a weapon, or at lower sensitive pick up an item. But if you were just using it to say mirror a mouse on a desktop PC, you can also tweak the sensitivity to make regular clicking with a mouse not require too much pressure at all.

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Q: The community has mixed feelings about having 2 trackpads, with some liking it and others thinking it’s distracting. How do you feel about the community’s reaction to the trackpads, do you think you will adjust that in future models?

Jay: I think as far as the community is concerned, we’re always going to have a lot of decisions especially based on things like that where half of the community might feel one way and the other half will feel another way. I think so long as we’re providing a choice and everybody is able to use the device in some way that they want to. I think that is great.

If you are the type of player that only plays with a traditional controller setup and the trackpad is not useful to you, that’s fine. You don’t need to use them and I think we’ve designed the ergonomics in a way that they shouldn’t be in the way of a traditional controller player, letting you ignore them if you prefer.

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Pictured: Early Concept and reasoning behind placements of buttons.

Q: Some of our team members and some players in Asia have reported they struggle with using the Steam Deck due to the console’s size. How can we improve the experience for players with smaller hands?

Pierre-Loup: When we designed the placement of the controls, we looked at a wide variety of hand sizes for a variety of populations and we think that we got to a pretty good result from the 5th to 95th percentile of the population. So definitely on the extremes of big hands or small hands, you’re going to have less of an optimal experience but it should still be perfectly playable. When you’re designing any type of controller you have to make trade-offs and try to be by accommodating for the largest possible set of people

We’ve actually gotten quite a bit of good feedback from people with smaller hands saying that initially, it looks like it was going to be cumbersome but then after a little  bit of usage they actually got they were actually impressed with how well it works

With regards to things like the back buttons, they are similar to the trackpad in that they are considered to be additive and not something that you have to reshape your grip to take advantage of when you are playing so that when people only want to play with the normal control set can just ignore them. For that reason, one of the things that we’ve done is be very conscious of accidental presses because we don’t want people who don’t care about the back button to accidentally press them and then end up having a bad experience 

So we designed the back button so that when you squeeze the device you actually need a lot of pressure to squeeze buttons,  however, if you squeeze the back buttons closer to the edge – the grips of the device, it becomes easier to press. But it’s definitely something you need to get used to. 

But yeah those are the kind of trade-offs and things you have to take into account when making new inputs.  We really want someone that only cares about the normal controls to not have to modify their existing grip to use the device, and if that means some compromises in the pressure or accessibility in the new controls, we’re fine with that.

There is a fine line and considerations that we have to consider with these new inputs, and ultimately we’re pretty happy with where we ended up with the device where we think it’s pretty approachable for someone who wants to play games traditionally, while also offering options for players who want to play twitch shooters or strategy games of the sort.

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Q: Are there any functions or features you were surprised that the community hasn’t picked up on yet?

Pierre-Loup: I think that there is definitely going to be a lot of time where more advanced use cases energy from the community, and they get baked into more configurations so more game developers will use them by default, and then we’ll see the full potential of the Steam Deck being reached. I think we can already see a community of enthusiasts already taking full advantage of all of its capabilities like binding multiple functions to different pressure levels to the triggers or the trackpads – 

Jay: Or that the sticks are actually touch-sensitive. Once people discovered that, they tend to go “Oh! I didn’t know these are touch sensitive”, so yeah you can have the gyroscope do nothing until you put your thumb on the sticks, and then the gyroscope will work for precision aiming. That’s one thing I wish everybody knew

Q: As someone with very sweaty hands when gaming, my favorite aspect of the Steam Deck’s design is the placement of the heat sinks being away from my hands during play. Are there any other design decisions you are particularly proud of that you think aren’t widely discussed by the community?

Pierre-Loup: I think it’s a little bit of the same thing right for this particular thing. It was a very conscious decision to keep the heat sink in the middle, and we want to keep the area cool.

But that’s the kind of design area where, if the design works, you won’t notice. If your design has problems, people will notice. So the best kind of design really is stuff people don’t discuss because it lets them focus on the game more. So yeah I think there are a lot of things like that with the Steam Deck, where if we did our job right, people won’t know, and that’s great so they can focus on the game.

Jay: There are some things even in the software that we hope are enhancing the play experience, that you won’t notice. Even just the top section with the “recent games” carousel, this is a list of games you recently played and purchased. Our hope is to be able to get you into the games you want to play as quickly as possible, and there are a lot of other design decisions in that same vein.

And yeah if your hands are burning, then we’ve done something wrong (laughs), if they aren’t hopefully, you’ll go “Yeah, that’s how it should work”.

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Q: The specs of the Steam Deck are pretty high compared to other mobile or handheld PCs. Do you think the Steam Deck has reached the limits of performance on a handheld device?

Pierre-Loup: Yes and no, I think it’s pretty much close to the limit of what’s possible right now, but obviously pc technology is always moving forward, the GPU architecture is going to get better, and we’re watching that closely. At some point, it will make sense to try to see if we can make a custom part that could be developed, but we’re not going to be looking at that for a couple of years because there is a lot of value in having the same spec for every device, so users know that the Steam Deck can run the same set of games, and developers only have one target to reach.

PC technology is such that it’s always going forward and we’re very cognizant of that. I do think that there’s a lot we can do to improve in terms of the display for the Steam Deck though.

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Q: So there’s no need to expect anything like a “Steam Deck 2” any time soon.

Pierre-Loup: Well, similarly I think there are tons we can do to improve on the Steam deck or add features without changing the specs. Obviously, we don’t have anything to announce right now but for us, Steam deck is a multigeneration product, something we think is a new form factor for PC, and we think other vendors will strive in that new category of PCs, and we’re looking forward to supporting them with Steam OS and Proton free of charge so they can use it on their own devices.

But definitely, you can expect MORE Steam Decks from us, but it will not necessarily change the system’s performance, but with things like battery life, screen, and ergonomics, there are tons of possibilities there.

Q: In the process of designing something, it’s almost inevitable for certain ideas to be cut from the final product. What concepts did you explore that didn’t make it into the Steam Deck you were fond of?

Pierre-Loup:  We’ve played with different screen sizes and it’s the first thing that we were trying to adjust for the device like what size screen is appropriate you may see in some of our prototypes that we had larger screens like an 8inch prototype. Then we quickly moved to 7 inch because we felt that it was the right trade-off between the size, and the portability of the device while having most of the content on the PC be legible, like the UI sizes and all that.

There are also a couple of things we explored that never made it in. Ultimately i think all the things we explored and we thought had promise and a good idea was put into the product. We don’t really have anything we thought that was cool but didn’t have time or the resources.

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Q: So the Steam Deck weighs like 669 grams. Is this really necessary and are there ways to reduce this weight?

Pierre-Loup: We actually got a lot of feedback about the system and when people saw it for the first time, they expect it to be even heavier. But because we have a lot of comfortable grip areas, the weight isn’t distributed as heavily in one area compared to a flat device you have to grip tighter since a lot of the weight dissipates, but for sure it’s a heavy device for its form factor, we recognize that.

What we’ve realized is that there is a direct correlation between weight and battery life, like the battery is the majority of the weight of the device. When it comes to the area that we can dial in, the rest is just kind of fixed weight that’s hard to get rid of. At the end of the day, if we had to go in one direction we’d rather add battery life instead of reducing it since it’s already something that could really use some improvement to the device. But yeah weight is definitely a tricky one cause it’s in direct relation to that. I think there’s some opportunity to be able to remove a bit of weight in a way that we can maybe retain the same overall weight, while still adding more battery life, so yeah we’re looking into that for the future.

Jay: Because yeah there’s nothing here that’s especially heavy that we think “Oh we can just remove that”, everything that could be removed has been removed already.

Pierre-Loup: We were very cognisant of weights from the earliest stage of development. Just like when people are planning a product they keep a track of the bill of materials for the budget, we have a wage budget for every part. We have a targeted breakdown for each component, and we do everything we can it weigh less. And so yeah I don’t think there’s a lot of ways we could have made this version of the Steam Deck lighter, and quite a lot of work went in to make it as light as it could.

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Q: Were there any strange features that were added to the device during the development of the Steam Deck? Like did any team members every try frying an egg of the system’s residual heat or something silly like that?

Pierre-Loup: We experimented with people just trying various ways to expand their device like adding extra batteries or adding extra storage by taping things on the back using velcro, just to get a glimpse of what the community might do once they get their hands on this thing in terms of modding and expansion. We try to get a pretty good idea of how people would use a device like a laptop or a computer with a lot of peripherals.  Yeah, we got lots of good data from that.

At the end of the day, It was nothing compared to what the community actually did because there are way more people out there and way more brains getting together and coming up with many awesome ideas. So we’re seeing lots of people do much more creative things than we could have ever come up with in-house and that’s really one of the strengths of PC because they are able to do all that in terms of software and hardware modding, without our involvement.

This is great and also we’ve released the models of the outer case and all the parts of the Steam Deck as CAD Models that people can use free of charge. So that’s been helpful as well for people who are designing cases or clip-on accessories and things like that because they can don’t have to figure out the shape of the thing is they can use our models directly.

Jay: I keep buying people’s mods off Etsy, I can’t help it every time i see one, I go “I do want that, that’s 10 dollars I’ll take it.”

Pierre-Loup: Yeah people have come up with cool Kickstands, and stuff like that

Jay: (laughs )Yeah I literally just ordered one yesterday that looks really cool and I’m excited to see it.

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Steam Deck’s CAD Files which are available publicly.

Proton: Taking The Pressure Away from Game Devs

Q: How Challenging is it to persuade developers to make something for the Steam Deck, and what kind of preparations do they have to make?

Pierre-Loup: Actually for developers, it’s been a smooth experience because a lot of the work is on our side. That’s one of the big differences between our push with the Steam Machine. When we were working with developers to create Linux ports for our platform (Steam), it required a lot of engineering and work behind the scenes just to have the same game run with compatibility. 

Whereas here the situation’s a little different because we have a compatibility layer that is able to support windows games directly. So the promise is if the game works well on a Windows PC, it should work well on Deck, and if it doesn’t, the fault’s on our side, and not the developers.

So we do a bunch of work on our side to get the game to parity. There are still some games that’s not compatible or have performance issues, but we handle that on our end. And the communications with other developers are more about the game experience, not the port. So it is “Does your game support game controllers as much as it could?” or “Does it have proper scaling options for ui, steam input support, cloud support, and a good balance of presets for lower-power machines for better battery life?”

And the beauty of it is all these changes they can make that make the game better on any of these axes, actually, make the game better for PC as a whole for all systems, so it’s a way easier proposition. It’s less work for a port, and it’s also far more interesting of a proposition for the devs to spend time on these aspects, rather than something specific to the deck. 

So in a lot of cases when we talk to external developers, they’re super excited that they don’t have to do any porting work, and when we talk about Gamepad support or accessibility, they’re like “Oh it’s something we’ve been meaning to do for a while, and now it’s a good reason to finally do it” and then they go do it. A lot of the time it’s work they’ve done for other platforms as well, so we’ve talked to many devs that had gamepad UI for either their mobile port or console ports, and then they just bring it back to the PC version, and make it available to there, and all users on PC and Steam Deck are much happier.

Jay: And we’ve been happy with seeing how many games they ship, and just work great. That’s more often than not my experience, a brand new game comes out, we look at it and go “Oh, this really is wonderful, nothing to do here.” you just go ahead and play.

Q: Has there been any stand-out or particularly enjoyable moments that you’ve found working with games that perform great with the Steam Deck right out the box?

Pierre-Loup: Well there are definitely some funny moments. Like before the Deck was even released when we were starting to talk to game devs because getting feedback from devs was always a very important part of our process, we wanted to make something that works really well for them.

In the beginning when we started disclosing game developers on Steam deck and the idea of it. Many of the devs were people we had already talked to during the days of the Steam machine. Some of them weren’t, but we talked to the developers and we walked them through the product, the idea of Steam Deck as an all-in-one gaming package that users can have for a modest price. It was a pretty modest proposition and when we get to the second half and the devs say “Ok, now tell us all about the porting work we have to do.” because that’s just what they’re used to.

Then I’ll just show them the deck with the game already running and they’re like “Wow! So we don’t have anything to do!” and every time the reaction is extremely positive. So those are always great experiences because then we can talk about the real work they can do, like the small touches that make it playable, to a delightful experience that’s captured by our “Deck Verified” process. So these are always great conversations to have with devs, and they really appreciated the fact that they can focus on what matters which is making the game better for everyone as opposed to behind-the-scenes engineering work to support a new platform.

Q: So there are still some multiplayer games like Rainbow Six Siege that aren’t playable on Steam Deck due to Anti-cheat. Is the Team starting to solve this issue or is it something that’s not feasible?

Pierre-Loup: Yeah I think we’ve made great strides on Anti-cheat, and for the most popular anti-cheat technologies we work directly with the provider of the tech so that Steam Deck support can be offered. In a lot of cases Steam Deck support is ready, it’s just up to the devs if they want to add support for it or not, with no extra engineering.

So we understand that developers will want to do that in their own rhythm. We can’t force them to do that so they’ll have to be comfortable with a new set of players accessible, and the potential, additional attack surface for cheats and such. But we’re really confident in the state we’re in with Anti-cheat technology, and we’re seeing more and more developers turn it on

We worked with both games that are using EASY ANTI CHEAT, BATTLEYE, and other niche anti-cheat providers, but we worked with all of them and we’ve seen many examples of games successfully enabling that, so I think we’ll see good things on that front. 

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Q: So we understand that devs are happy, but how happy is the Modding community with the Steam Deck? Is it easy to integrate mods, and is the Steam workshop going to support the Steam Deck?

Jay: Again it’s a PC we want everything that works on a PC to work here so it’s really on a game-by-game and kind of mod-by-mod basis as to whether or not those particular things are appropriate for Steam Deck. I’ve seen some mods that would make no sense whatsoever where it would add a lot of performance overhead and take a huge hit to the battery and performance or be desktop-only type mods. But then there are the others, and we’re hoping the community really embraces this and makes mods specifically for the deck experience, I can see that happening a lot like UI mods or things like that, and take that up themselves. 

But yeah we’re excited to see what people do with it, and so far it’s been very encouraging

Pierre-Loup: I don’t think there’s any technical limitation there for mods be it for Windows games or Linux games. Steam Workshop is fully supported so if you have subscriptions they will come on deck and mods will be automatically installed. Proton supports game mods as well so there is no problem there. We’ve seen even be it workshop or mods you have to manually apply, all of them are supported in the same way, and it’s just that on the Deck you have to know the installation directories are not the same, so you have to know the equivalent path when you’re following a mod guide. But you can do all the same things, and people have been doing it successfully.

Q: Are there any plans to integrate mobile apps on the Steam Deck? Since a lot of mobile games now have simul releases on PC and Windows is also trying to add more support for Android Apps.

Pierre-Loup: I think we’ve seen people already having a good experience with installing Blue Stacks, and other emulators on the system and playing Android apps on that. There’s probably more we could do to support Android apps natively because we share a lot in common with Android in terms of Linux architecture and a probably wouldn’t be too hard to have Android run time in there. It’s just that Android apps are made for ARM and we’re X86 so we’d have to do a little bit of work in translation.

That being said, there have been game devs reaching out to us, game devs that already have games on Steam but have a catalogue of games on mobile that don’t support a mouse and keyboard and are touch only. And they reached out to us and asked if could we bring it to Steam Deck as a touch-screen only game, and yeah they’ve definitely been doing that and we’re probably going to see more crossover that blurs the line between Steam and mobile

On Steam Deck Peripherals

Q: Will the Steam Deck be compatible with VR? Or is this something still in early development?

Pierre-Loup: Well… We have some community enthusiasts that got VR to work with the Steam Deck, by plugging in a headset and playing some less demanding games. But for Steam Deck we prioritized the experience around Non-VR games because with the performance requirements of VR games, it’s not something that portable devices can really handle at the moment. Maybe in the future, though the hardware could be more playable on mobile devices.

Q: So we’re not going to have anything like Steam Cardboard VR Glasses (laugh)

Pierre-Loup: (laugh), Well. it is a device that people where people can tweak the system the way they want to or make peripherals without our involvement, so maybe we’ll see some creative use cases coming from the community

Jay: yeah, totally up to the community, if they want to build something like that then we welcome it.

Q: So how do you think the Steam Deck will affect the player experience?

Pierre-Loup:
It will allow for more family-style play sessions when the game’s on the TV as opposed to being more about yourself. I think it just expands the range of possibilities of what you can do with the deck, and will probably enable some people to use the deck as their primary platform as opposed to just having it in addition to a PC.

Like with a Dock you can use it to play on a TV and on the go. That being said there’s nothing really specific to our dock at the moment, you can take any 3rd party USB-C hub and have a similar setup, it’s just our deck is specifically engineered so the deck can stand on top of it, and also has high-powered connectivity like gigabit ethernet and USB 3 for all your peripherals right now.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to release the dock simultaneously with the deck, but we’re working on overcoming the supply problems there and we’ll be able to announce when the dock is available shortly.

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Some Extra Questions About Gabe, and What the Devs Have Been Up to

Q: Even people that don’t play PC games, will probably recognize Gabe Newell. Did he give any opinions or advice when it came to development?

Pierre-Loup: Yeah definitely, I would say Gabe was part of the Deck team and interested in giving feedback throughout. But like with any team effort it’s more of an exercise in collaboration, and we discuss things in a group and decide what works and what doesn’t

But yeah he was definitely very into it, he’s avidly playing games on it, and probably one of his main ways of playing games these days, he was always very interested in FF14, and he’s been playing a lot of it on the Deck

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Q: So what games have you guys been playing recently on the Steam Deck?

Jay:
Oh, great question, love that question.

Pierre-Loup: Right now I’ve been playing Stray and a lot of Elden Ring –

Jay: you took my answer! I’m playing Stray too.

Pierre-Loup: Ah (laughing), ignore that answer.

Jay: Yeah Stray’s absolutely great on the Deck though I can tell you that. It’s a game that was verified on deck before it came out, so it’s really nice to see that happen. I will say the entire team got too obsessed with Vampire Survivors for a little while. Everybody was playing that for a hot minute. I’ve also been playing Tiny Tina’s Wonderland on the Deck recently.

Pierre-Loup: yeah I’m still playing that, yeah they keep coming out with new stuff.

Jay: I’ve been playing Final Fantasy Remake as well and uh, Monster Hunter Rise, and the last couple of days I’ve been playing Spider-man cause I was testing the build since we’re working with the developers to make sure its a good experience, and we’re glad that it works so well.

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Q: While we’re on Tiny Tina, I’ve actually had quite a bit of problem with the resolution and FPS when it came to the borderlands games on Steam, so I actually didn’t try Tiny Tina on the Steam Deck yet.

Pierre-Loup: It’s possible we’ve made improvements since the last time you tried that. And also if you can try DX12 mode as opposed to DX11, that should be a better experience on the deck.

Jay: DX12 mode is great, and I do highly recommend for that game specifically, change the settings to 40hz refresh rate at 40 frames per second, Tiny Tina is really good, I probably have like 45 hours in already and it plays great so, I do recommend that.

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