We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Valve’s Steam Deck Prototypes Leave Us Wanting More

A Steam Deck prototype with a flat design (no hand grips) and two circular touchpads.
Pierre-Loup Griffais

Members of the press had the opportunity to see nearly a dozen Steam Deck prototypes during the console’s East Asian launch event. These prototypes date back to mid-2019, and they feature a wide range of design quirks that we would love to see in a next-generation portable console.

Photos of the prototype Steam Decks were shared on Twitter by Pierre-Loup Griffais, a coder on Valve’s Steam Deck team. According to Griffais, the earliest prototype models were made by hand before the project entered the early stages of mass production.

Notably, the early Steam Deck designs look like a Nintendo Switch combined with a Steam Controller. They’re relatively small and use two circular touchpads instead of square-shaped touchpads. Instead of a typical D-pad, they have four analog directional buttons, and they’re completely flat—no hand grips.

It seems that Valve added a bit of girth to the Steam Deck to improve ergonomics, increase hardware performance, and use larger components. Early Steam Deck prototypes use slower CPUs than the final design, and their joysticks are outrageously small.

But we can’t get over how sleek some of these prototypes look. They’re reminiscent of the PS Vita, and they seem much more portable than the final Steam Deck design.

That said, competing products like the Aya Neo use a sleek design language but fail to match the Steam Deck’s specs. Valve made a smart compromise when it adopted the big chunky Steam Deck design we know today. We just hope that new technology allows Valve to get the best of both worlds in future Steam Deck models.

A second-generation Steam Deck is in the cards, according to Valve. But a release date is unknown, and frankly, we don’t expect a new Steam Deck to come any time soon. Valve still hasn’t finished fulfilling orders for the first-gen Steam Deck—why would it rush into the second generation?

Source: Pierre-Loup Griffais via XDA Developers

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is the News Editor for Review Geek, where he covers breaking stories and manages the news team. He joined Life Savvy Media as a freelance writer in 2018 and has experience in a number of topics, including mobile hardware, audio, and IoT. Read Full Bio »