Valve’s Steam Deck has been a surprising hit among gamers since it came out in February 2022. Naturally, a follow-up is expected. But, while Valve is smart enough to plan many steps ahead of us, a next-gen Steam Deck likely isn't coming before we're closer to the end of the current decade.
Steam Deck designer Lawrence Yang recently sat down for an interview with Rock Paper Scissors in celebration of the first anniversary of the handheld console.
Yang talked about the journey of the Steam Deck and how it changed the way gamers play titles on the platform. The designer shared that Valve is looking at what can be improved in the next version of the portable console.
Yang said that the Steam Deck’s success "has made us even more excited to look closely at what can be improved." He added, "a true next-gen Deck with a significant bump in horsepower wouldn’t be for a few years."
It's still too early for Valve to reveal the next-gen Steam Deck, as the current console is barely over a year old and runs most AAA titles well enough. If anything, Valve will want to focus on improving the battery life of the current Steam Deck.
The one-year-old Steam Deck runs an AMD Zen 2 4-core/8-thread 2.4 GHz CPU, 16 GB DDR5 RAM, and an AMD RDNA 2 GPU. The specs are comparable to an entry-level gaming laptop which can run most AAA titles at medium settings. The best part is that Valve is actively cataloging games and verifying if the Steam Deck can run them properly, with over 10,000 titles rated as "Steam Deck Verified."
The Steam Deck is much more like a PC than a console and it will take some time to have the perfect balance of power and efficiency. Valve has not shared how long the current generation was in development before it was announced in 2021, but it should take at least three to five years to go from conceptual stage to the first production model and that's if everything goes well. The actual process could have taken Valve longer.
Ultimately, Valve will want to see more returns from the current Steam Deck model first before it starts any significant work on a follow-up. The good news is that the current-generation model has already sold more than a million units since last year. It should continue selling well as stock availability of the Steam Deck improves.
While the next-generation console is years away, Steam may opt for a mid-generation update to spruce up the console with some incremental hardware changes, like a bigger battery or a sleeker design.