Could the Steam Deck do for Video Games what Mobiles did for Online Casinos?

Announced to massive fanfare and international attention, Valve’s upcoming Steam Deck system is easily one of the most exciting projects the company has ever worked on. With far more power than the Nintendo Switch, and infinitely more portability than a home console, the concept behind the system is solid, but can it measure up? Looking at the domination of another form of mobile interactive entertainment as illustrated by online casino games, we want to explore the potential the Steam Deck presents, and the hurdles it has to clear.

What Makes Online Casinos on Mobiles Special?

Before smartphones became popularised by the iPhone in 2007, the online casino market was the exclusive domain of the desktop and laptop space. The market excelled at this time, but it was still limited by both the number of users who had computers and the overall culture surrounding internet use.

Today, with the aid of smartphone ubiquity, online casino games like the Starburst slot are bigger than ever before. Playable and scalable to a wide range of mobile devices, access to these games is easier and more well understood than at any point in the past. Even better, the move towards touchscreens with such simple gameplay systems has essentially sidestepped the issue that many mobile games have with control, making online casinos on mobile a simple and streamlined experience.

The Steam Deck Approach

According to its specifications, as announced by the official Steam Deck website, the Steam Deck system will easily be the most powerful gaming handheld ever created. The idea here is that this should bring it in line with what online casino games accomplished, in bringing playability to mobile systems with little in the way of lost performance.

There is a potential problem here, though, in that the PC games that the Steam Deck supports can be infinitely more demanding than online casino games. Though the system isn’t targeting anything outrageous like 4K resolutions or 144Hz display output, this gap could introduce issues in playing certain titles on the mobile platform.

In terms of control, the inbuilt controller of the Steam Deck again attempts to mirror the accomplishments of the online casino market. Again, however, the Steam Deck doesn’t quite measure up. While many games that rely on controllers as primary input devices, like most ports, should integrate just fine with the Steam Deck, the same can’t be said for games based on keyboard and mouse controls. Though the inbuilt touchpads on the system could alleviate this problem somewhat, it’s still a poor substitute for more traditional input methods as noted at TechCrunch. In other words, unlike online casino games, the controls of Steam games are often too complex to make the mobile jump effectively.

Steam controller, back.” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by 传说中的天才

Long-term Viability

Looking at previews, there are many indications that the Steam Deck could do extremely well in certain situations. Properly supported, the machine could even find a home as a new second-fiddle to Nintendo’s handheld dominance. Unfortunately, there’s a major problem standing in the way of this idea, that of Valve’s ongoing support. As Valve demonstrated with the Steam Link and Steam Controller, the company is all too willing to drop projects that underperform, bringing the lifespan of the Steam Deck into question.

At the end of the day, the fact that mobiles are a necessity and the Steam Deck is not means that, no matter how successful Valve’s approach is, it will never match up to the combination of mobiles and online casinos. That said, the progress of online casinos illustrates what could be a target to strive for. As for whether or not Valve will put in the dedication required, only time will tell.

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