The Steam Deck OLED, although packed with upgrades compared to the original handheld PC, is not a complete replacement, according to Valve. Senior Valve designer Jay Shaw and software engineer Jeremy Selan explained in a recent interview with RPS that the true next generation of the Steam Deck is still a few years away. Despite the release of the Steam Deck OLED on November 16th, Valve is not planning on introducing a more powerful processor for the handheld device any time soon. This decision stems from the desire to achieve a “generational leap” in terms of performance before moving on to the next iteration of the Steam Deck.
When it comes to product design, trade-offs are inevitable. According to Selan, balancing cost, performance, and battery life is crucial. With the Steam Deck OLED, Valve focused on optimizing battery life by fine-tuning the APU specifically for power efficiency. While they could have pursued maximum performance, it did not make sense for their customers when considering the overall balance of the device. This choice resulted in efficiency improvements, with certain games experiencing up to 59% more uptime before requiring a recharge. While the Steam Deck OLED may not match the graphics power of devices like the Asus ROG Ally, its longevity on a single charge makes it a highly appealing option for portable gaming.
Valve recognizes that equipping a future Steam Deck with significantly higher framerate pushing power is not currently feasible due to technological limitations. Selan explains that the necessary advancements in processor and GPU technology for a next-generation Steam Deck are still years away. Valve aims to wait until the technology reaches a stage where it is worthy of a new performance target before developing a successor. This indicates that fans of the Steam Deck may have to be patient for a while longer.
Exploring Alternative Designs
While waiting for the next-generation Steam Deck, Valve plans to explore alternative designs and color options. The recently unveiled translucent, orange-highlighted Steam Deck OLED Limited Edition is a step in this direction. Shaw expresses excitement regarding the potential for multiple colorways and unique design choices. While these ideas do not equate to a new generation of the Steam Deck, Valve hopes that the introduction of limited editions and visual variations will keep consumers engaged and excited about the product.
Even with the release of the Steam Deck OLED, Valve is not rushing into the development of the next generation of their handheld gaming device. They understand the importance of a substantial performance leap and are willing to wait for the necessary technological advancements to ensure that their future iterations meet the expectations of their customers. In the meantime, they are focusing on refining the current Steam Deck models and exploring creative design possibilities. The future of the Steam Deck may be just a few years away, but Valve aims to make it worth the wait.