Steam Deck 2 could have better screen and battery life – but not performance

A woman playing Hollow Knight on a Steam Deck
(Image credit: Valve)

Valve has shared some new info on what advancements will be made with the Steam Deck 2 – including better battery life – and further expressed a desire to make a Steam Controller 2.

Valve has made no secret that there will be a sequel to the Steam Deck – indeed, multiple iterations of the handheld gaming PC – and in an interview with The Verge, Steam Deck designers Lawrence Yang and Pierre-Loup Griffais touched on a couple of priorities for the Steam Deck 2.

When asked about the major sticking points which needed to be fixed with the next incarnation of the handheld, both answered that they were longer battery life, and improving the screen.

What about faster performance and smoother frame rates, then? Apparently, this isn’t in the cards, as Griffais told The Verge: “Right now the fact that all the Steam Decks can play the same games and that we have one target for users to understand what kind of performance level to expect when you’re playing and for developers to understand what to target... there’s a lot of value in having that one spec.”

He added: “I think we’ll opt to keep the one performance level for a little bit longer, and only look at changing the performance level when there is a significant gain to be had.”

As we mentioned at the outset, the topic of a sequel to the Steam Controller came up, and Yang chimed in: “Yeah, we want to make it happen. It’s just a question of how and when.”

So there will be sequels to both of these pieces of hardware, although the Steam Deck 2 is clearly the focus for Valve – but the Steam Controller 2 will be something that’s likely to be explored, Yang notes.

The Valve employees also go into the major efforts the company is making to get games running nicely on the Steam Deck, and solve issues like patching out stuttering with Elden Ring. Apparently, Valve spent some six months getting Halo Infinite going, including implementing new Vulkan features to get the game supported; impressive lengths indeed.

Efforts around making games with anti-cheat systems compatible with the handheld is another area of focus, and the engineers noted that Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Fall Guys are a couple of examples of games that are being actively worked on, and should be playable on the Deck (eventually).

Analysis: Beefing up the battery would clearly be a major boon

When it comes to the Steam Deck 2, battery life is an obvious goal to shoot for. Clearly, any portable literally lives and dies by its battery life, which can be particularly problematic for demanding games – so eking out a decent amount of additional longevity will be a big step forward. Of course, a better screen is another obvious target that’ll make a major difference to the overall portable gaming experience.

It’s interesting to hear that boosting performance seemingly isn’t on the table for the Steam Deck 2, though it’s clearly something that will happen down the line in future iterations. Whatever the case, while it might be tempting to imagine that a more minor bump than expected for the sequel could mean the Steam Deck 2 is closer to hand than anticipated, that isn’t likely to be the case. It’s still probably a good long way off to give plenty of breathing room for Steam Deck buyers to enjoy their purchases (and don’t forget, Valve had trouble supplying all those folks as it was).

The comment about working on new Vulkan features for Halo Infinite is also very illuminating, and elsewhere in the interview comes an even more eye-catching snippet. Namely that Valve is “directly paying more than 100 open source developers” who are working on Proton, Vulkan, the Mesa graphics driver, and more besides. Serious stuff.

As for the Steam Controller 2, that prospect – vague as it seems in this mention – has been greeted by enthusiasm in some quarters, as there are certainly fans of the original controller, while equally prompting questions about, well, why bother? Considering the original was canned and a bunch of remaining stock more or less given away back in 2019. We’ll just have to keep our eyes peeled for further news on this one, as we’re definitely intrigued to see if this really is something Valve might pursue.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).