Valve Steam Deck: how, where, and when can I buy one?

Can you fit a PC in your pocket? Not unless you have exceptionally large pockets, you can’t. Valve hopes to change that with the Steam Deck, a handheld PC that should fit inside at least a generously sized jacket pocket. It’s set to arrive in February 2022, though it’s not quite as straightforward as heading to your local electronics store on launch day to buy one.

As the past few years of PC gaming hardware releases have taught us, nothing is ever that simple. Though, Valve is making an attempt at a more orderly ordering system for the Steam Deck than much of the chaos we’ve seen the past year. It should result in a smooth, if a little long-winded, release for the handheld console. Hopefully it’ll keep customers from frantically hitting refresh, leaving the Steam webpage unbroken.

No more than a few of us had to frantically hit refresh to secure a Steam Deck pre-order when they went live last year, anyways.

Is the Steam Deck on track for release?

Valve should have the Steam Deck ready to go by February, 2022, and believes it’s “on track” to hit that deadline. Valve does note, however, “Global pandemic, supply issues, and shipping issues notwithstanding,” as we all know these can strike down even the best laid plans.

What happens sometime in February, then, is the first customers to grab a pre-order back in July will be given the opportunity to cash in their $5 (£4) ticket and purchase whichever of the three Steam Deck models they chose when signing up originally.

After that time, we have very rough estimates as to when the next Steam Deck shipments will be.

If I pre-order a Steam Deck today, when will I receive it?

Pre-orders placed today may differ depending on your location as time goes on, though it appears expected order availability will be sometime after Q2 2022 no matter where in the world you are.

Expected Steam Deck order availability by region:

  • US: After Q2 2022
  • Canada: After Q2 2022
  • UK: After Q2 2022
  • Germany: After Q2 2022
  • France: After Q2 2022

Polling the PC Gamer staff that pre-ordered on the same day pre-orders went live: some have expected availability in Q2 2022, while others are after Q2 2022. No exact dates are given beyond these rough estimates.

What that means is that we know there will be at least one wave of Steam Decks on sale in February, Q1 for the people who pre-ordered; and another sometime between April–June, Q2. After that, there will be a further shipment, likely in the second half of the year, though when exactly is not clear.

The fact that many of us who pre-ordered on the first day also have the same order availability as what’s currently listed on the Steam Deck pre-order page is interesting in itself. It could be that the expected availability is so distant that Valve would rather not say when these units may arrive, or that it isn’t able to say what availability will look like later in the year. I’d say that may have something to do with the global semiconductor shortage, for one, as late 2022 may see some, perhaps minor, improvement in supply.

Semiconductor supply is expected to increase in 2023, after which point there may not be such a delay on Steam Deck orders as there is today.

How do I check my Steam Deck delivery date?

You can check expected order availability on the Steam Store’s Steam Deck product page.

Just don’t hit the cancel button, yeah?

Has the Steam Deck been delayed?

Valve delayed the first wave of Steam Deck devices from December 2021 to February 2022. So far there have been no further delays to the handheld PC, though we’re keeping an eye on the Q2 2022 order availability dates in case they change.

We can’t say for sure if Valve has pushed back, or even brought forward, the availability dates beyond Q2 2022, as no specific date has been given.

Will I be able to purchase a Steam Deck from anywhere else but Steam?

The only place to secure a Steam Deck pre-order is via Valve directly and the Steam Deck product page. Valve’s track record with its own hardware launches would also suggest this will remain the case for most of the Steam Deck’s lifetime.

The Valve Index is only available to purchase through Valve directly. The Steam Controller and Steam Link, while now six-feet under, were also primarily purchased direct from Steam during their lifetimes.

What about the second-hand market?

I have very little doubt that, come launch day, there will be heaps of Steam Decks available on auction and reseller sites. I would also assume these will come with massively inflated price tags.

While I can’t make a blanket statement for every second-hand Steam Deck, I would suggest caution in overpaying for the device to get your hands on one. The Steam Deck’s most impressive feature is its price tag, which is far below its competitors in the handheld PC gaming space.

If you’re looking to spend $1,000 or more on a Steam Deck second-hand, you could spend that money on a brand new portable PC from Onexplayer or Aya instead. Or, even better, put that money to better use on a tried-and-tested gaming laptop with a discrete GPU and power to play the latest games.

Has anyone got their hands on a Steam Deck already?

As you might imagine, Valve has the Steam Deck fairly under wraps. That said, in preparing to launch the portable PC, Valve has shipped out hundreds of Steam Decks to developers in order to get their games optimised for the console in time.

That’s great news for would-be Steam Deckers, as we’re beginning to see the list of ‘Deck Verified’ games fill out. With the likes of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Cuphead marked as Steam Deck Compatible. 

The Steam Deck UI is shaping up nicely.

It’s worth noting that some popular games, such as The Witcher 3, are marked as “playable,” which means they’re operational but perhaps not quite as optimised as Valve would like. In The Witcher 3’s case, some text may appear too small on the Steam Deck’s 7-inch screen.

Our own Wes Fenlon has also had hands-on with the Steam Deck over at Valve HQ.

“After spending a far too brief couple hours with the Steam Deck, I’m not sure if I would consider it a one-to-one replacement for the Nintendo Switch,” Wes notes. “Its bigger size isn’t as ideal for throwing in a backpack and playing on the go. But as a portable PC gaming machine, it really is impressive: it’s comfortable, feels great to hold, and seems to have the power to play games like Death Stranding with decent settings.”

When will the Steam Deck dock arrive?

Valve has confirmed that a powered USB Type-C hub will arrive at some point in the future. It will be sold separately, though we don’t know for how much. Valve is still yet to confirm all the details on the dock, but more information is “coming soon,” and has been for a while, according to the Steam Deck product page.

Source: PC Gamer

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