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Valve delays Steam Deck launch two months to February 2022

Sorry to anyone who expected Steam Deck to launch by the end of 2021.
Enlarge / Sorry to anyone who expected Steam Deck to launch by the end of 2021.

Aurich Lawson vs DC Comics

The Steam Deck, Valve’s first “Switch-like” portable PC, has officially been delayed from its original December 2021 launch window. The company’s Wednesday announcement confirmed that all orders have been “bumped two months,” which means the SteamOS device will reach customers no earlier than February 2022.

“We’re sorry about this—we did our best to work around the global supply chain issues, but due to material shortages, components aren’t reaching our manufacturing facilities in time for us to meet our initial launch dates,” the company wrote in an update on the Steam Deck’s official store page. Though Valve’s statement doesn’t say which materials caused the delay, it’s likely that the global chip shortage is to blame.

Valve says it still plans to fulfill purchases for all three Steam Deck models in the order they were received. The company has already updated the system’s Steam store page to inform customers of new shipment estimates, and Ars Technica can confirm that a previous “Q4 2021” order is now listed as coming in “Q1 2022.”

An HTML data leak suggested that over 100,000 preorders were processed in the system’s first 90 minutes of being on sale, though that leak didn’t say how many orders were pegged for December 2021 shipments.

In the States, it’s called a fry shortage

Valve is not the only hardware manufacturer caught up in the 2021 chip shortage madness. Early in the year, Sony’s chief of PlayStation operations warned fans that PS5 supplies would be strained through Christmas. Three months later, Nintendo offered a similar warning about how the chip shortage was putting the squeeze on Switch console production.

As 2021 progressed, Nintendo’s rumored “Switch Pro” system launch evaporated in favor of a Switch OLED model. Bloomberg Japan, the original outlet to report on a potentially more powerful Switch console, has suggested this shift came as a result of Nintendo scrambling in the face of manufacturing realities.

Valve has been bullish about demonstrating the Steam Deck’s legitimacy as a portable PC gaming option via near-daily social media posts about compatible games. The company has been sending Steam Deck development kits to its storefront’s most popular indie developers, who have been using the units to prep their titles for “Deck Friendly” certification. Games on Steam can receive such a certification if they play well with the Linux-based SteamOS 3.0 and have suitable control mapping for the Steam Deck’s suite of joysticks, buttons, triggers, and touchscreen capabilities.

Regardless of Deck Friendly certifications, however, Valve has insisted that the device will run “the entire Steam library.” The company later clarified that SteamOS will put a big, fat “X” on certain exceptions to this case, particularly anything that works exclusively in virtual reality. At the very least, a two-month delay to shipping hardware will give Valve’s Deck and Proton teams more time to firm up such pledges.

With this news in mind, attention now turns to other hotly anticipated portable devices previously promised to ship by the end of 2021. On the portable gaming side of things, that includes the Analogue Pocket, an FPGA-powered device tuned to run classic portable console cartridges, and the Playdate, a quirky handheld with an emphasis on a crank as a control mechanism. Analogue pledged to stick to its 2021 shipping estimate as recently as last month, while the Playdate’s producers at Panic have remained mum on estimated shipping dates since August.

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