Report: Valve Is Making A Switch-Like Portable Codenamed SteamPal

Report: Valve Is Making A Switch-Like Portable Codenamed SteamPal

If the Nintendo Switch has proven anything, it’s that being able to play previously PC-only indies on the go rules. Soon, though, you might not need to wait for Switch ports of your Steam-powered faves: a new report claims Valve is working on its own handheld.

The report comes from Ars Technica and cites “multiple” sources who are familiar with the device. According to Ars, the device — codenamed “SteamPal” — will run “a large number” of Steam games via Linux and could launch as early as the end of this year. The report further describes SteamPal as “an all-in-one PC with gamepad controls and a touchscreen,” though notably sans any sort of removable Joy Con equivalent. This naturally leads to questions about what, exactly, about it is Switch-like aside from its portable form factor — which, in fairness, has inspired a number of portable PCs since its release.

For now, Valve is apparently still prototyping the machine and will likely lean on either AMD or Intel for hardware, but form factor remains up in the air. Ars describes one variant as “quite wide” compared to the Switch, so as to accommodate gamepad buttons, triggers, a pair of joysticks, a thumb-sized touchpad, and of course, a touch-sensitive screen.

This report is corroborated by recent additions to Steam’s code that were discovered earlier today by SteamDB developer Pavel Djundik. These include “SteamPal” and “SteamPal Games” in relation to another Valve codename, “Neptune,” which Steam users first came across last year. All of this, apparently, refers to Valve’s in-development handheld.

Additionally, Valve head Gabe Newell seems to have hinted at the device’s existence earlier this year during a panel at a New Zealand school, responding to questions about Valve’s plans for games on consoles by saying, “You will get a better idea of that by the end of this year…and it won’t be the answer you expect. You’ll say, ‘Ah-ha! Now I get what he was talking about.’”

As Ars notes, however, nothing in development at Valve is a sure bet. Valve, more than most video game companies, is fine with bringing a project most of the way to life, only to pull the plug at the last second. Plus, Valve’s previous attempts at more traditional video game hardware — the Steam Controller and Steam Machines — never quite caught on, so I’m guessing Valve wants to nail this one, rather than dropping another device that contorts human hands into crab claws. The company’s luxury VR headset, the Valve Index, suggests promising steps in the right direction. Here’s hoping that the SteamPal does not also come with a luxury price tag.

Comments

  • “If the Nintendo Switch has proven anything, it’s that being able to play previously PC-only indies on the go rules. ”
    Something that NVidia shield, Razer Edge and other devices like them showed us before the Switch was even a twinkle in my Uncle that works at Nintendo’s eye. It’s kind of funny how modern Nintendo is like the Apple of console makers, taking existing ideas and pushing them into the public eye where they’re perceived as new and revolutionary.

    • I think Razer and Nvidia, gave up, cause they didn’t see a market return on development… Nintendo like Apple has that one thing a loyal market base that allows a fully backed product to take off if it appeases the fans.

      Nvidias position now is the Shield was a success as the mobile chipset in every Switch.

      Interested to see if Xbox and Surface produce something with the Duo tech.

  • The biggest hurdle is getting the PC graphical output and performance out of a hand held factor… using traditional PC components just ends up being an expensive clunky overheating brick. The Switch works cause it’s all custom processors.

    It needs an innovative solution, and I don’t think Valve has the focus to do that.

    Steam Machines didn’t go well, a concept to create a PC console just ended up going off track with PC OEM’S and SIs just installing Linux on standard PC’S (that everyone eventually installed Windows on after buyers regret)

  • Steam and Google, constantly dipping their toes into the physical technology pool and noping out.

    • Google’s issue is EVERYTHING IS BETA. They rush something out and then give up, all dreams and moonshots based on loose design frameworks.

      Steam Machines was a concept that changed when they decided to outsource it to every OEM and SI. Compared to the Vive where they went with one hardware developer and didn’t rush to market.

      A portable gaming PC has to be a fully actualised product, not a beta, kick-started or a toy project by a day dreaming dev.

  • This has great potential. Another big name in the handheld market would be great even if it generates more competition. It will be interesting to see if they go the arm or x86 route. Amd does have arm processors for servers and a licence as well. But with the mention of intel as well it seems less likely. But if it is x86 then the platform has a large base to draw from. I would love to play all the roguelikes I enjoy on steam/early access on the go without needing to wait for it to be ported. Also, retroarch is on steam so that could open up emulation right out the gate. I just hope it has a decent dpad.

  • Valve definitely have had a good track record when it comes to physical hardware, I’m sure this time it will be great (did you hear the sarcasm?)

    I’ll just stick to playing my steam games on my phone via remote play

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