Gabe Newell described the PC platform’s openness as its strongest ‘Superpower’ when comparing it to other systems the upcoming Steam Deck will stand in contrast to. In an interview with IGN, Gabe Newell discussed creating a system that almost any platform holder could take advantage of in a meaningful way. This included companies like Microsoft, which do not have a handheld on the market.
Quickly he made clear that this freedom was part of the design of the console:
Our view is that the openness of the PC ecosystem is the superpower that we all collectively benefit from. So if you want to install the Epic Games Store on here, if you want to, run an Oculus Quest on it, those things are, those are all great. Those are features, right? That’s what I want to hear as a gamer.
Gabe Newell then proceeded to compare this to other systems with closed interfaces, such as the Nintendo Switch:
I don’t want to hear that somebody’s got some Trojan Horse that’s going to try to lock me down. I want to hear whatever I want to do. If there’s hardware, I want to attach to it. If there’s software, I want to install. I can just go and do it. And you know, we think that’s great.
As he put it, the openness of the Steam Deck was a guiding philosophy:
I mean the most fundamental one was great performance on your entire Steam library, right? That’s the fundamental thing that needed – and it had to be open. […] It was just like, I want to be a gamer who’s used to playing PC games. I want to pick this up and says, ‘oh, it all works. It’s all fast.
He also went on to describe himself being used to high-end PCs and therefore could not see himself as a user wanting a handheld that removed the best features of a PC that he was accustomed to. It is important to note however that this openness does not extend to the hardware running the system. Valve has previously warned against replacing the Steam Decks SSD.
The system is a Handheld PC in every sense of the word, even allowing you to remove the SteamOS running on it and replace it with windows. This is something some players might want to look into as this is currently the only way to play some of Steam’s most popular games.