After the runaway success of the Nintendo Switch, rival gadget makers are keen to make their own handheld consoles. According to a new report, Valve is the latest to jump on the portable gaming bandwagon.
According to multiple sources who spoke to Ars Technica, it seems Valve has plans to create its own PC-based Switch clonehardware for the device is said to have been in development for some time. TodaySteamDB creator Pavel Djundik discovered new code in Steam referencing a device named Neptunewhich first appeared last yearalong with a brand new device called the SteamPal.
While the devices final name has reportedly yet to be determined, the Ars Technica report indicates that the SteamPal is designed to be a larger PC-based Switch clone featuring a portable design powered by an Intel or AMD chip with a central touchscreen and attached controllers, though unlike the Switch, the SteamPals controllers are not expected to be removable.
As part of Valves push to bring more games to Linux, the SteamPal will likely feature a Linux-based OS, Ars Technica reports, though its possible Valve could make the SteamPal compatible with Windows 10 as well. Similar to the Nintendo Switch, the SteamPal is expected to output video to external displays via USB-C, while the SteamPals controllers are expected to come with a standard array of buttons, triggers, and joysticks, in addition to a small touchpad and maybe even a D-Pad.
However, despite targeting PC games, the SteamPal isnt expected to have a physical keyboard, and its still unknown if Valve has plans to create a dedicated dock for the SteamPal either.
Thee SteamPal is reportedly currently still in the prototype stage, but it seems Valve president and co-founder Gabe Newell has been dropping hints about an upcoming Steam console that could arrive as soon as the end of the year.
If Valve intends to release the SteamPal sometime in the near future, it will be fighting an uphill battle on a number of fronts. The first is that Valves history with gaming hardware has been rather hit-or-miss, with its Steam Machines initiative from 2014 failing to grab mainstream attention. Other projects like the Steam Link and Steam Controller were eventually replaced by an app and third-party controller support, respectively. On the flip side, Valves most recent device, the Valve Index, remains one of the most sophisticated VR headsets on the market, though admittedly thats within a still somewhat niche segment.
On top of that, since the Nintendo Switchs launch in 2017, there have been no shortage of PC-based switch clones. Weve seen prototype devices like Dells Project UFO, which after almost a year and a half still hasnt seen the light of day, Lenovos LaVie Mini concept, and all the other PC-based Switch clones from companies like GPD, Aya, and others. Even Qualcomm has been rumored to be working on its own Switch-like gaming handheld, which is reportedly due out sometime in early 2022.
But if the Ars Technica report and Newells hints are accurate, we could get a better picture of whatthe SteamPal really is before the end of the year, though the ongoing global chip crunch may throw some wrenches into Valves original timeline.