With a simple and approachable device like the Steam Deck, will PC gaming finally get its hooks into console gamers?
PC gaming has always intimidated me. Whether it is the sheer choice of configurations – of graphics cards, processors, and everything else – the performance tweaking, or the perpetual question of whether a device can run a power-hungry title, leaping into PC gaming has always felt like more work than it is worth.
Many of my friends would vehemently disagree, claiming that it really isn’t that complicated. While I am inclined to believe them, I desperately want to, it can still never be simpler than the plug-and-play experience offered by consoles.
And so in steps Valve’s Steam Deck, a portable device that is bringing the plug-and-play, console experience to PC and offering tech-shy gamers like myself the perfect gateway to PC gaming.
The Steam Deck is an intriguing offer, one that eases a lot of the anxieties I have surrounding the perpetual PC puzzle. Rather than debating the internals of my build here is a device that packs a punch and promises to run AAA games “really well”, whatever that means.
I can’t help but be a tad sceptical around the Steam Deck’s potential performance, especially when we look at its lofty claim of up to 4K and 120fps when docked. That is surely very dependent on the game, right? It has to be. Regardless of what the device offers in terms of performance, what it does offer is an entry to PC gaming for a set price, and a set-up as simple as plugging in a USC-C cable.
With the device’s simplicity, the leap required to enter PC gaming has become a simple step – and not just from a technologically anxious angle, but from a financial one too. While PC hardware is upgradeable, our rig’s relative performance is a coefficient of our budget and the point in time we make a purchase. Today’s top-end will be tomorrow’s middle ground. Anything less is already on the back foot, which drives people to spend more to try and future-proof their investment.
Having spent many an evening watching YouTubers and Twitch streamers running the latest games at the highest specs – and maybe it’s just me, but – seeing the very best PC has to offer leaves me hesitant to enter at anything below that. The “can it run Crysis?” query has become a bit of a punchline, but the sentiment behind it is a genuine dilemma.
However, the Steam Deck’s off-the-peg internals reduces all the variables of that dilemma. It boils down to a mid-level, PC gaming experience, for a price in line with consoles. It’s even priced closely to the lower-spec Nintendo Switch, a device the Steam Deck is frequently compared to, owing to its form factor. All of a sudden, the idea of PC gaming doesn’t seem like an unattainable pedestal of gaming. Valve has simultaneously offered an experience that is both complementary to existing PC gamers, for those who fancy a handheld option, and inviting for console gamers.
The Steam Deck may be the one and only PC gaming device I ever own, but if it is, it will be one that allowed me to test the water with PC gaming without shelling out thousands of pounds. I can finally try my hand at Valorant, give hot-for-a-minute games like Valheim a go, and even touch on some gaming classics that are locked off by next-gen consoles.
The Steam Deck will be praised for bringing the PC experience to a handheld, but for me, its true selling point lies in simplifying the PC experience for a console gamer like me.
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