Steam Deck pre-orders are now open, but if you didn't already get yours in you may be waiting for a while.
Almost as soon as Steam's reservation page for the device went live at 10 am PDT / 1 pm EDT / 6 pm BST, connection to the service became spotty. Several members of GR who were trying to get their personal pre-orders in found the process hung at the payment step, assuming they were even able to get that far. No Steam Deck reservation confirmations have gone through on our end yet, and some of us have even been put on time out by Steam for attempting too many orders - so watch out for that if you've been pounding the refresh button yourself.
Steam has more than a little experience with servers getting slammed for special events, so hopefully it won't take long for it to iron out these launch difficulties. In any case, here's what you need to know once they are available.
There will be three units to choose from, ranging in price from $399 / £349 to $649 / £569 with improved specs to match, but it won't be a simple matter of signing up and waiting for your system to arrive.
For starters, Valve is requiring an initial fee of $5 on all reservations; Valve says this will "ensure an orderly and fair ordering process" by making sure folks who put their pre-order in really want one. This fee will be applied against the total balance of your Steam Deck purchase, so you're not spending any extra money, you're just laying some of it out up front. If you cancel your reservation within 30 days, the fee will be refunded to your payment method. After that, it will go into your Steam Wallet balance.
On top of the fee, you'll only be able to pre-order in the first 48 hours of availability if you made a purchase on Steam prior to June 2021. This is being done to combat scalpers, basically: since each Steam account will only be allowed to purchase one Steam Deck, profiteers won't be able to make a ton of free Steam accounts and use them to buy up huge chunks of the initial inventory. If you've never purchased a game on Steam before but still want to put in a Steam Deck pre-order, you'll have to wait until Sunday.
Finally, the reservation itself is the beginning of the purchase process, not the end. Once it has inventory to sell, Valve will notify customers based on the order their reservations were received. They will then be able to complete their purchase.
It is undoubtedly A Process. Hopefully it means more people who want to play their games on Steam Deck, rather than the people who want to resell at a big markup, will have an easier time getting a hold of the console than, say, hunting a PS5 restock.
Start stocking up your Steam account now (if it's not already packed) with our guide to the best PC games.