My severe Steam Deck FOMO still won't let me take the handheld PC plunge

Valve Steam Deck on a table
(Image credit: Future)

Last year, against my better judgement, I reserved a Steam Deck. Then this year, against my better judgement, I cancelled that reservation. Despite everyone who had received theirs before me singing its praises, telling me how badly I was missing out and how much they were enjoying crunching through their backlog from bed, I still couldn't bring myself to add yet another gaming device to my collection. Now, five months after declining to follow up on my purchase, do I regret my decision?

Honestly, kinda! Don't get me wrong, I love gaming at my PC. I've spent a long time nurturing my setup, tweaking things like the chair I sit in or slotting an extra hard drive into my rig so I can install more games. I've got what I would consider to be a pretty great gaming space going at this point. It's comfortable, well-lit and not only do I spend all my time there doing this job, but I spend a good chunk of my evenings playing games in the same spot.

That's kind of the problem. If I think too hard about how long I spend at my desk withering away I get heart palpitations. Again: love my setup, love my little area. But dear god sometimes I feel like I gotta touch grass more. It's difficult when work from home encroaches your relaxation space too, and I've made a conscious decision to simply spend less time at my PC in 2023. I still want to be able to play games, I just don't want to be tied to my desk to do it anymore.

Image of the Steam Deck playing Frostpunk.

(Image credit: Future)

That's really the shining point of the Steam Deck, isn't it? The ability to take all of these games you desperately want to play and giving you the ability to do it anywhere you damn please. I've had to sit there as colleagues at work rave about being able to finish up work for the day and then take their Steam Deck to bed or to their sofa to play whatever they like without having to continue mithering around in the area they just spent the last eight hours writing. Great Steam Deck games like Vampire Survivors, Persona 5 Royal, Return to Monkey Island, Into the Breach. All ones that were released this year and I would absolutely have more time for if they came with the portability the Steam Deck provides.

All hands on Deck... except mine

But at the same time, despite all my FOMO and my bank account quietly crying anytime my friends start talking about the Steam Deck, I can't bring myself to buy one. I'm not sure exactly what it is. The price point is definitely one of them. The three choices aren't wildly expensive by videogame standards, but I'm always more hesitant to dump a large chunk of money into a handheld than I am a PC or full home console. I think it's some perceived bias I've developed over the years about handhelds having a shorter lifespan than consoles or PC, despite getting years and years out of portables like my Vita, DS and Switch.

Besides, when I have all of those handhelds at my disposal, do I really need a Steam Deck? It almost feels wasteful when I have so many other things I can go and play if I really don't want to sit at my desk to game. My Nintendo Switch is regularly neglected and I wonder if my Steam Deck would suffer the same fate. With so many choices of how and when to play, it seems greedy to want to add to that. That doesn't mean I wouldn't remain infinitely envious of all my Steam Deck havers, though.

I know that Steam Decks are now freely out in the wild, available for me to snag anytime. But despite my intense desire to leave the shackles of my desk behind, I still can't bring myself to dump a huge chunk my monthly paycheck into one. I still have that fear of investing in something that may be redundant in a few years. I think when Valve releases its next iteration I'll take the bait and finally free myself from my big bulky rig. Sometimes it pays to be patient and besides, would a Steam Deck truly help me nail my 2023 goal of spending more time doing other hobbies? Probably not.

Mollie Taylor
Features Producer

Mollie spent her early childhood deeply invested in games like Killer Instinct, Toontown and Audition Online, which continue to form the pillars of her personality today. She joined PC Gamer in 2020 as a news writer and now lends her expertise to write a wealth of features, guides and reviews with a dash of chaos. She can often be found causing mischief in Final Fantasy 14, using those experiences to write neat things about her favourite MMO. When she's not staring at her bunny girl she can be found sweating out rhythm games, pretending to be good at fighting games or spending far too much money at her local arcade.