You didn’t hear it from me, but apparently handheld consoles that can also instantly connect to a big screen TV at home are pretty popular. Nintendo knows this pretty well after selling around 85 million Switch consoles, and the owner of the biggest digital PC game marketplace in the land reckons that now might be the good time to flex some of its own muscle and get in on the game.
Per an Ars Technica report citing multiple sources, it’s claimed that Valve is working on a handheld that is currently codenamed “Steampal”, a title which will probably be used on a crap Verimark product for making ironing slightly less dangerous in the future. Steampal is described as “an all-in-one PC with gamepad controls and a touchscreen,” but there’s no mention of any removable controllers, the calling card of the Switch.
Recent additions to Steam’s code were discovered this week by SteamDB developer Pavel Djundik, with “SteamPal” and “SteamPal Games” popping up. Another codename for the device, Neptune also appeared in the update and hinted towards the handheld unit. As spotted by Kotaku, Valve boss Gabe Newell dropped a few hints about the existence of the steamiest pal during a panel at a New Zealand, when he responded to a question about Valve possibly getting into the gaming console business:
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.’
The caveat here is that even if Valve has a handheld console in development, it might not ever see the light of day as the company still has to decide whether it’s worth the investment to go global with this idea. While the Valve Index VR headset is doing rather nicely, the company is still feeling the burn from middling sales on Steam Machines and the Steam controller, the latter of which was an input device that sapped analogue sticks for erogenous zones.
The one advantage that the Steam handheld could have is a wider library of indie games to draw from, something which has been key to the success of the Nintendo Switch since 2017 as developers flocked to that system with their quirky wares. Combined with Steam’s other advantages such as Early Access and exclusive betas, and this could be a little titan in the making.
Last Updated: May 26, 2021