Valve’s boss Gabe Newell on Steam Deck’s price: ‘We’re doing this for the long haul’

Newell detailed part of Valve's sales strategy for the handheld console.

Screengrab via Valve

With yesterday’s announcement of Steam Deck, Valve’s handheld console, the first assumption of a lot of gamers was that the console is fairly priced.

Valve will charge $399 for the 64GB version, $529 for the 256GB version that uses an SSD instead of an eMMC (embedded MultiMediaCard), and $649 for the 512GB version, which also features a “premium anti-glare etched glass” and an exclusive carrying case.

Gabe Newell, Valve’s president, gave an interview to IGN and explained that the company had to be very aggressive in terms of pricing Steam Deck. The basic model of Steam Deck is $50 more than Nintendo Switch OLED, which is significantly less powerful than Valve’s handheld.

“I want to pick this up and say, oh, it all works. It’s all fast. It’s all… and then price point was secondary and painful. But that was pretty clearly a critical aspect to it,” Newell said to IGN. “But the first thing was the performance and the experience, [that] was the biggest and most fundamental constraint that was driving this.”

In a separate interview, Valve’s hardware director Shreya Liu said the company had to work “very, very hard” to achieve the price point of Steam Deck. The new portable console will be capable of running AAA games, thanks to its AMD Zen 2 processor and AD RDNA 2 GPU, which is something Nintendo Switch, the most popular handheld console at the moment, can’t.

The Steam Deck is being priced with a long-term strategy in mind, according to Newell. Valve will probably profit in the long run as long as people continue to buy games from them.

“A lot of people have overpriced things and killed the opportunity, and sort of convinced people that it’s an uninteresting category from the get-go,” Valve’s boss said. “We’re doing this for the long haul.”

The Steam Deck will be available to reserve in select regions and will begin shipping out in December 2021