Valve is making a Nintendo Switch-like console for PC games, claims report

Valve Steam Machine
Don't worry, this isn't what it looks like. (Image credit: Future)

A new report appears to confirm that Valve is working on a new portable Steam Console for PC games. 

We've already reported on speculation based on clues spotted in a beta of the Steam app, and now those rumors have been corroborated by Ars Technica – it appears that Valve really is making a portable PC gaming console.

The console is codenamed 'SteamPal', but that name is likely to change to something more… well, cool, before it’s unveiled to the public.

Rumors began to swirl around about the device when a Redditor spotted a change in Steam’s code that referenced the new codename – though it’s apparently been going under a different codename ('Neptune') for the last two years. 

Neither Ars Technica nor the Redditor explained what the console might look like, but both have latched onto the idea that it’s going to be a portable console similar to the Nintendo Switch and other portable form-factor PCs that have appeared as prototypes at CES in years past.

As for the control scheme, it will apparently use a version of the Steam Controller’s touchpads, though that could change as it goes through the iteration process. There will also be a way to connect the hybrid PC to your monitor through a USB-C connection – but again, details are pretty thin around that right now. 

The juiciest details are still shrouded in Steam… er, fog 

At this point, no one can say for sure what type of hardware will be running inside the machine – whether it will have an AMD or Intel processor, or how powerful its GPU might be – and at this point, no one can even say for sure what operating system it will run. Chances are good that it will run Valve’s open-source Linux platform, SteamOS, but Ars Technica doesn’t rule out the possibility of it running a fully-fledged version of Windows.

As frustratingly obfuscated as this all is, it’s exactly the sort of thing Valve would do. It will iterate on a device for years internally, and only debut it when it’s sure that the world is ready for it. Valve did that for the Steam Controller which, by the time journalists saw it, was nearly feature-complete and ready to ship, and the Valve Index, which was also kept well under wraps.

And yet, it’s hard for us to discount the possibility that this could turn out to be vaporware, despite Ars Technica’s strong research and sources. 

The good news? We might not have to wonder about it for very long – the sources who spoke to Ars’ Sam Machkovech say the consolde could be available by the end of the year. 

Nick Pino

Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.