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Steam Deck's pricing was "painful but critical"

Pricing the Steam Deck right was one of Valve's main goals when designing the device.

The Steam Deck was officially announced on Thursday, following some leaks earlier this year. Valve revealed three editions of the Steam Deck, all functionally similar, except for their storage capacity and speed.

Though getting performant components into the Steam Deck was Valve's top priority, the company was also keeping a close eye on the price-to-performance ratio. In an interview with IGN, Valve boss Gabe Newell said getting this balance right is "one of the critical factors in the mobile space."

"I want to pick this up and say, 'Oh, it all works. It's all fast. It's all...' and then price point was secondary and painful," said Newell. "But the first thing was the performance and the experience, [that] was the biggest and most fundamental constraint that was driving this."

"We knew that the price point was very important, so [...] from the beginning, we designed with that in mind, and we worked very, very hard to achieve the price point that we're at," Valve's hardware director, Shreya Liu, revealed in a separate interview.

Newell added that Valve's goal is to establish a new product category within the ecosystem that it, as well as other companies, can build upon for years. The Steam Deck is also a test that there's value in expanding the PC space to handheld, for consumers as well as game developers.

"Our view is - if we're doing this right - that we're gonna be selling these in millions of units, and it's clearly gonna be establishing a product category that ourselves and other PC manufacturers are gonna be able to participate in, and that's going to have long-term benefits for us," Newell explained.

"We think that this makes sense going forward at this price point. We don't have some tie-in ratio. We don't say, 'Oh, and then we have to sell eight games for each one of these, otherwise it doesn't make sense.' Our calculus is more, 'Is this the right product, and is it a great way to test out the assumption that there's a huge amount of value, both to game players and game developers, to extending the PC ecosystem in this direction?' That's the real test, more than anything else."

The Steam Deck starts shipping in December.

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