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Your Move: The Potential Of Steam Deck

The Nintendo Switch has been so popular in no small part because of its versatility - you can play it on your TV, or you can pick it up and play it anywhere else. This is great for the games that come out for the Switch, but for a lot of other games that only come out on more powerful platforms, you’re confined to a TV or computer screen. Valve, the company behind the largest game marketplace on PC, is looking to change this with their new PC-based handheld console, called the Steam Deck.

The Steam Deck superficially looks kind of like a Nintendo Switch. There is a large 7-inch touchscreen, flanked by control sticks, buttons, and touchpads. But under the hood, it’s a lot more like a desktop or laptop PC. It has the same kind of CPU and graphics processor that you’d find in a gaming laptop. It runs a custom version of the Linux operating system with a compatibility layer called Proton, which lets you play Windows games. If that’s not good enough, the hardware is completely open, so you’re free to install Windows or any other operating system on it if you so choose. That means you can also install other game stores, and play Microsoft Game Pass games.

The Deck can run most games at smooth framerates, but if the Deck’s hardware doesn’t have the oomph you need to play a game, it supports game streaming from a more powerful gaming PC.

Starting at $400, the Steam Deck is more expensive than the Nintendo Switch and will almost certainly be more of a niche gamer device. But with the larger library, and the promise of bigger games, the Steam Deck might be the perfect way to play PC games away from your PC.

Samuel McConnell is a games enthusiast who has been playing games in one form or another since 1991. He was born in northern Maine but quickly transplanted to Wichita.