Steam Deck PlayStation

I wouldn’t say I loved the PlayStation Portable in practice, but the concept — at least on paper — sounded like a no-brainer. Being able to play PS2-quality games on the go was younger me’s dream come true. That it failed was mostly due to the competition at the time (cough, Nintendo, cough) and, I would imagine, Sony’s desire to deliver an affordable option instead of a higher-end yet far more capable one.

With the PlayStation Vita, Sony managed to get a few things right: most notably, the addition of a second analog nub (it wasn’t a full-blown analog stick, if you ask me), which made twin-stick games more playable, as well as a general performance upgrade, allowing for better graphical and sound output. And then there was the remote play feature, which allowed users to effectively stream a connection to a PS4 so they could play games on the Vita without having to be glued to the living room TV. The Vita wasn’t perfect, but it certainly was a solid handheld with cool features that were ahead of their time. You might even argue that it hinted at things to come, like the ill-fated Wii U and, later on, the Nintendo Switch.

But as much as I enjoyed those halcyon days of Sony’s first-party games in the palms of my hands — meaningful, dedicated entries in big series like Uncharted and Jak and Daxter — I just don’t think the handheld market is lucrative enough for Sony to ever go down that path again — especially with Nintendo dominating that space.

As for Microsoft? Well, Microsoft has effectively ruled out handheld devices altogether — though based on the popularity of the Windows phone, I really can’t see why.

Valve Steam Deck

The thing is, with so many of Microsoft’s recent first-party offerings available on Steam, and with Sony starting to release PC ports of some of their own big hitters as well, neither company really needs to manufacture or market dedicated handheld hardware of their own. With the Steam Deck right around the corner, this one device could be poised to serve as a handheld option for two of the industry’s three major console manufacturers.

Although none — or mostly none — of Microsoft’s first-party games, such as Flight Simulator, Forza Horizon 5, and Gears of War 5 are currently listed as Deck-verified, that doesn’t rule out the possibility that they will receive that coveted verified status later on. And it certainly doesn’t mean they’ll be flat-out unplayable. Well, maybe Flight Simulator will be flat-out unplayable on Steam Deck…

As for Sony, games like God of War (2018), Death Stranding, and Horizon Zero Dawn are all currently Deck-verified (Days Gone unfortunately isn’t at the time of this writing), so it has quite the lineup of triple-A titles ready to be played right from the seat of your toilet! Of course, Sony might have something of a disadvantage in that the company doesn’t release its first-party games until they’ve had some time to age a bit, so its current offerings are limited to some of its older (yet still incredible) games.

God of War on PC

These are exciting times in the video games industry, with speculation that Sony is working on a competitor to Microsoft’s Game Pass, and both companies buying up studio after studio in order to secure exclusives or simply branch out in new directions to meet the demands of the changing landscape. And now the Steam Deck is poised to blaze some new trails of its own.

Even though some initial reviews state its far from perfect, the Steam Deck could still make a big splash in the handheld market, as it effectively attempts to bring PC gaming into the on-the-go realm in a cost-effective package and with support from one of PC’s biggest publishers. If Valve can iron out the initial wrinkles in its handheld, well, we could really have a stew going, baby.

Carl Weathers - Steam Deck
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