In an interview with IGN, Valve's Pierre-Loup Griffais explained that all the games released this year which have been tested on Steam Deck have been "running without issues." He goes on to partly attribute the handheld's performance successes to "industry trends" that favor stable frame rates over high resolutions.
"If people are still valuing high frame rates and high resolutions on different platforms," Griffais said, "I think that content will scale down to our 800p, 30Hz target really well."
Still, the developer acknowledges that if a shift happens where players start demanding higher resolutions in games, there could be a trade-off that compromises FPS. "If people start heavily favoring image quality, then we might be in a position where we might have trade-offs, but we haven't really seen that yet," he explained.
Another boon for the Steam Deck, Valve says, is its modern, supposedly future-proof internals. Valve bills the Steam Deck as a modern gaming laptop that you can play in your hands like a Nintendo Switch, but the tech powering the Deck is dramatically more advanced than the Switch's guts. For more on that, here's a detailed write-up on how Steam Deck compares to Switch, PS5, and Xbox Series X.
"I think a big factor is that we are using the latest generation GPU from AMD," says hardware engineer Yazan Aldehayyat. "We are using a new generation CPU from AMD, even the memory itself actually, we are using LPDDR5, which is brand new to the industry. I think we might actually be one of the first products to showcase this new memory technology. In that sense it gives us a lot of future-proofing."
If you're lucky enough to nab a pre-order, you can expect to get your hands on Steam Deck around December 2021. Prices start at $399 for the base 64GB version, and there's also a $529 256GB version and a $649 "high speed" 512GB version, but the most expensive one is coming at a later date.
In the meantime, here are the best PC games you can play right now.