Expect a long wait for a true Steam Deck 2

 The Steam Deck OLED.
The Steam Deck OLED.

If you’re on the fence over whether to buy the new OLED Steam Deck or hang on for a true successor, Valve’s Lawrence Yang has just given you a good reason to go now, suggesting that the Steam Deck 2 isn’t coming any time soon.

In an interview with Gizmodo, Yang — a UX designer at Valve — explained that while a true successor to 2021’s portable PC is in the works, it might not arrive until late 2026.

“We are working on it,” he explained, but to “make a proper successor,” much of it is “bound by the performance.”

“For us to call something a Steam Deck 2, there has to be a generational increase in performance,” he continued. And while Valve is keeping close tabs on the chip market, Yang’s hunch is that within “two or three years, there will be a chip that we will be able to use for Steam Deck 2.”

Why couldn’t Valve make an incrementally improved model? After all, it works for smartphone makers to refresh their handsets every year.

For Valve, that doesn’t fit the PC games model, and the company is keen to avoid a situation where it has “switching costs.” That’s lots of different Steam Deck SKUs with 10-30% performance differences, as it “becomes harder for developers to target those performances.” In other words, lots of different Steam Decks make it difficult for Valve to confidently say which games will work well, and which won’t.

The Steam Deck was refreshed last week with a larger battery and an optional OLED screen — two of the big bugbears that reviewers had with the original version. These are things that Valve had wanted to target for a long time, and Yang says that the criticisms “matched our list of things that we wish we could have done.”

The company had to make some compromises on the design due to cost, time and that whole “supply chain nightmare” of 2021 — when the pandemic fallout meant that chips were in extremely short supply, ensuring that GPUs and PS5s were like gold dust.

Valve has been extremely consistent in saying that Steam Deck 2 is years away, and as I’ve written before, that’s absolutely fine with me. I’m very happy with my Steam Deck, and with over 12,000 games listed as either verified or “playable”, I’m not going to be short of things to play on my portable pride and joy any time soon.