Steam Deck is Valve's handheld gaming PC, and since its release in February 2022 it has attracted some positive—albeit caveated—reviews. Our Wes spent a lot of time testing the device, coming to the conclusion that it's "bulky for a handheld, but makes up for it with unrivalled versatility and a killer price."
It certainly does have a killer price, if you happen to live in one of the regions it is shipping to. The Steam Deck starts at $399 in the United States, with $529 and $649 models for higher and better NVMe SSD storage. Still, that's of no use to Australians, because as of mid-2023, Valve still isn't shipping the Steam Deck direct to Australia, and nor does the console have an Australian price. That said, some local retailers have started to offer it via resellers, albeit well over the price you'd expect at current exchange levels. More on that below, but in Valve's words: "be careful".
If prices in Australia prove to be roughly 1:1 with the United States, here's what you should expect to pay (excluding shipping):
- 64GB: Circa AU$665 incl. GST ($399 in the US)
- 256GB: Circa AU$880 incl. GST ($529 in the US)
- 512GB: Circa AU$1,080 incl. GST ($649 in the US)
From Steam Deck's February 2022 launch, the unit only shipped to the United States, UK, Canada and the European Union. Then in August, Valve partnered with Komodo to make the Steam Deck available in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea. Getting close, Valve, but the company still hasn't offered any ballpark window for when Steam Deck might officially release in Australia. That's not to say you can't buy one in Australia, but if you do it'll be via a third-party.
It may be a while away if the Valve Index's rollout in Australia is any indication. Following the VR kit's official release back in 2019, it took until August 2021 for the headset to be officially sold in Australia.
Should I buy a Steam Deck in Australia via a third-party?
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It is possible to buy a Steam Deck in Australia without going through the pain of ordering direct from Valve (details on that annoying process are below). That said, Valve has warned against it, and you'll likely be paying more than any unit is actually worth when currency conversion and taxes are taken into account. Retailers such as Amazon, Kogan, Dick Smith, Catch and even Woolworths have listings for purchasing Steam Deck for Australians, though none of those reputable retailers are actually selling it direct: All listings for Steam Deck are via third-party sellers, some of which don't exactly have perfect customer ratings.
It's not just us warning to be cautious: Valve itself has said to be careful. In a tweet on January 11, the official Steam Deck account had this to say. "A quick note that the only official ways to purchase Steam Deck are directly from Steam (in the US, CA, EU, and UK), or from Komodo (JP, KR, TW, and HK). Steam Decks sold via any other websites or retailers are unofficial - please be careful."
Should you buy a Steam Deck in Australia via a third-party seller? It's a risk, and it's more expensive than what the eventual RRP will likely be (see the guide above). But at this rate, will Valve ever release the Steam Deck in Australia? It's been out 18 months and still no love. Perhaps try an ASUS Rog Ally instead?
I'm throwing all caution to the wind and buying a Steam Deck via a third-party. Where is it currently cheap?
Below are the current best prices for all Steam Deck models including the 64GB, 256GB and 512GB models. Again: check the seller, and check their reviews, before deciding to take the plunge.
When is the Steam Deck's official release date in Australia?
The Steam Deck doesn't currently have a release date in Australia. If you try to order a unit on Steam, you'll be met with the frustratingly vague notice that "this item is not available for reservation in your country."
The word 'reservation' isn't promising. Valve is struggling to meet demand in the regions it is already shipping to, though in early October it was finally possible to order a Steam Deck without a reservation. Now that the reservation system is a thing of the past (at least for now, and it seems to apply to different models on different days), we have our fingers crossed that the Steam Deck will release in Australia in 2023.
Remember: Valve Index didn't officially hit the Australian market until two years after its initial launch in the Northern hemisphere, and even now, its stockist EB Games only has the base station available as a standalone unit—not particularly useful for buying into the best VR headset going around. Does Valve hate Australia? Probably not, but as a small market we ain't a priority.
How much will Steam Deck cost in Australia?
The Steam Deck will, surprise, surprise, probably cost around the same amount in Australia as it does in other regions. So if you want the 64GB base model, expect to pay around AU$535 (ie, the same price as the Nintendo Switch OLED model), with the 256GB and 512GB models going for AU$706 and AU$866 respectively. Do note that these estimated figures don't include GST.
Consumer tech tends to vary in price from region to region, so those above-listed currency conversions won't likely be the exact pricing for the Steam Deck in Australia. We're led to believe it'll be roughly the same, due to the Valve Index's official pricing in Australia, which was pretty much the same as the US.
Still, that depends if Valve chooses to use a local retailer to distribute Steam Deck, as it did with Valve Index, or if it wants to ship units out itself. Steam Deck is only available from Valve directly in the regions it's currently available in, but shipping is currently free.
Are there alternatives to the Steam Deck that are available in Australia?
The ASUS ROG Ally is the first major device to compete with the Steam Deck, and unlike Valve's device, it's available in Australia. In our ROG Ally review, Dave James wrote that "the ROG Ally is the best handheld gaming PC on the market, and probably the best budget gaming PC full stop." Still, it's not exactly the same as the Steam Deck, and you should read Dave's full review for benchmarks, feature comparisons, and more.
I don't want to wait: how can I buy a Steam Deck right now in Australia, direct from Valve?
If you want to buy a Steam Deck in Australia right now, you technically can't. But, where there's a will, there's a way… albeit an expensive and annoying way.
That way is using a parcel forwarding service, but you're also going to need to use a VPN, and a US prepaid card provider. Sounding a bit like a pain in the arse, yet? No? Do read on.
Get a VPN
The first order of the day is placing a preorder using a VPN with a server based in an eligible shipping country, such as the United States. Our friends at Techradar have a list of the best VPN services, and you'll probably be fine using one of the best free VPNs—ProtonVPN Free, for example, has servers based in the United States. Once Steam thinks you're based in the United States, you'll actually be able to click the 'reserve now' button on the Steam Deck purchase page.
Get a US-based prepaid payment card
But wait! You're allowed to reserve a Steam Deck, but you won't be able to unless you cough up the $5 reservation fee, which you won't be able to pay with an Australian credit card or PayPal account. You're going to need a US prepaid card, which is annoying, but plenty recommend US Unlocked. This basically lets you choose how much money to deposit onto a virtual payment card that you'll be able to use to check-out on US-based stores that are region locked.
This is an annoying process. You'll need to verify your account to load funds onto your virtual card, which means offering up an image of your driver licence or passport. You'll also need to pay US Unlocked a $3.50 monthly fee to use it (this isn't charged if your account has no credit, so you should only need to pay it once). Then there's a $0.50 transaction fee, as well as a load fee that varies between 3 and 7% of the load amount you're crediting to your virtual card.
Get a parcel forwarding service
A parcel forwarding service basically gives you a virtual address in another region, such as the United States. From that virtual address, your package is then shipped to your Australian address. You'll need one, because Valve is only shipping Steam Deck to the eligible regions, so you can't have it shipped directly to Australia.
Australia Post actually had its own freight-forwarding system until early in 2022. Now, you're left to select from a range of other companies who vary in reputation and price. This Choice.com.au break down of freight forwarding services is well worth a read in order to understand the risks, as well as to assess which one is the right fit for you.
Should you buy a Steam Deck using this process? We'd say probably not: this option is only for people who simply cannot wait, and don't mind the protracted process, the possible extended waiting times, and the added cost involved. For everyone else, stay tuned: the Steam Deck will release in Australia, but exactly when is currently unknown.