When Valve announced a two-month delay with the Steam Deck shipping date back in November, some folks feared a further hold-up in the pipeline – but the good news is that the handheld gaming PC is still on track.
If you recall, the original launch date for the Steam Deck was December 2021. That was pushed back to February 2022 thanks to supply-chain issues and difficulty sourcing critical parts for the device (50 components are, in fact, labeled as ‘high risk’ in terms of their difficulty of procurement).
In an interview with PC Gamer, Valve’s Greg Coomer reassured us on the new launch date: “We do feel like we’re on track for that. We’re still bummed that we had to move from end of this year to beginning of next. But yeah, all the signs are pointing to us being able to ship in February.”
While not any confirmation, that statement comes loaded with enough confidence to sound promising.
PC Gamer also probed as to how many units of the Steam Deck Valve might have on tap for release in February. Coomer said: “It’s a real product launch, so many thousands of people right away are going to receive Decks as soon as we’re able to ship them. But even talking about thousands would be quite low compared to the volumes we’re shooting for in the first few months.”
Interestingly, Coomer further asserts that the Steam Deck will build sales momentum over time: “If you extend the timeline out through 2022 and all the way to 2023, we expect to be building on our numbers constantly throughout that whole time, to the point where there’s many millions of customers if things go the way we think they will, who are using Steam Deck by the end of that year or so, through 2023.”
Analysis: A real launch, not a paper one
By a ‘real’ launch, Coomer is making a reference to the kick-off of the Steam Deck not being a so-called ‘paper launch’, which is one in which very few products are actually available (carried out just to make it look like a company has hit a release deadline). In other words, this will be a proper launch with thousands of units sent out from the get-go, not one where a very small number of devices trickle forth.
That’s good to hear, and reassuring that the first few months post-release should see some major volume in terms of shipping, by the sound of things. Overall, going off these statements it seems like there’s a decent level of confidence that nothing further will go awry with the launch timeframe other than the slippage we’ve already witnessed.
As well as getting the hardware actually made in time for the intended release date, Valve also needs to ensure that everything is shipshape on the software front, and that includes strengthening game compatibility (with Proton) as much as possible. The latest concern on that front is that PUBG might come a cropper with its incoming anti-cheat changes when it goes free-to-play.
PUBG is, of course, one of the most-played games on Steam, so it would be kind of a downer for many if they couldn’t engage in a session on the Steam Deck, particularly now the battle royale is going to be free. Fingers crossed this, and other anti-cheat issues, are fully ironed out over the next couple of months.
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