In an interview with the Verge, Steam Deck designers Lawrence Yang and Pierre-Loup Griffais revealed that Valve has wide ranging plans to update the pocketable Steam Deck gaming PC, with both hardware and software upgrades in the mix.
When asked what improvements they'd most like to make to a revised Steam Deck, both Yang and Griffais pointed to the screen and battery life as prime candidates, though they don't provide any specific details. However, the machine's performance isn't likely to be increased any time soon.
“Right now, the fact that all the Steam Decks can play the same games and that we have one target for users to understand what kind of performance level to expect when you’re playing and for developers to understand what to target... there’s a lot of value in having that one spec,” Griffais says. "I think we’ll opt to keep the one performance level for a little bit longer, and only look at changing the performance level when there is a significant gain to be had."
Speaking of the Steam Deck's battery, that's set to be made easier to replace. The battery in the current model is one of the few components that's hard to swap out thanks to heavy use of glue. A pity given the battery is arguably the most likely part of the machine to wear out.
“We have rolled in a change to the geometry of the adhesive, making the battery easier to loosen,” says Yang.
Another fix that should also be rolled out soon involves Bluetooth audio. Due to Steam Deck's default use of high-quality streaming codecs, there can be noticeable audio lag when using Bluetooth headphones with the Deck. The solution will be to allow users to select a lower-quality mode.
From a wider hardware perspective, Yang and Griffais like the idea of the Steam Deck inspiring a new generation of desktop Steam Machines, but it doesn't seem like Valve has plans to make the boxes themselves.
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"We’re excited to see people make their own SteamOS machines which could include small PCs that they put next to their TV," says Yang. But Griffais points out that Valve has too much going on with the Deck to get into making desktop boxes. "Things are very busy with the Deck right now and we can’t be everywhere at once," he says.
On the software, a whole slew of new features and fixes are planned. Things like sharing per-game settings profiles with other Deck users, more game-specific performance optimisations, a new audio mixer to control sound levels independently for game, music, and chat, and the introduction of legacy mobile games that have previously only been seen on smartphones are all on the list.
In short, Valve has plenty of exciting stuff planned for the Steam Deck in 2023.