A recent datamine attempt at the Steam’s latest code revealed a secret project coming from Valve.
Previously, the project was suspected as a controller that could potentially be replacing the controversial Steam controller under the codename “Neptune”. But the latest discovery points to something else entirely and what critics speculate as a handheld similar to the Nintendo Switch.
Putting out the word in the social media space, Steam Database (@SteamDB) tweeted a probable Steam console called “SteamPal”. Its operator, Pavel Djundik, himself was hands-on in digging information about Valve’s recent mystery.
Valve is possibly working on a handled Steam console called "SteamPal" (codename Neptune).
Beta client update added plenty of references including controller bindings, new UI strings such as quick access menu, system settings (airplane mode, wifi, bluetooth) and a power menu. https://t.co/BwDWjWWb06
— Steam Database (@SteamDB) May 25, 2021
In the said tweet, it claims that the Steam’s latest beta client displayed references to more than just a controller. It also hints at functionalities that are seen in a system that is significantly larger in scope than for just a gamepad. In particular, there were variables that are indicative of user-interface, system settings, and power menu. Elements that are staple among modern portable systems, like Nintendo’s current-gen gaming platform.
What we know, so far
Ars Tecnica dug even deeper on the topic, giving notions at how the project develops. The comparison with the Switch being not too far off as early prototype suggests of similar form factor. But with one major difference in that the built-in gamepad is not detachable like the Joy-Con.
Although the idea behind SteamPal is likely to be sold as a portable console, it also plays on the hybrid perspective. That is, by being dockable, thanks to a USB Type-C port. This means that playing games on a bigger screen is as simple as connecting the device to a display.
It’s not just the added lines of codes to the Steam client that’s telling of a potential Steam handheld, however. Valve’s co-founder, Gabe Newell, also seems to be ambiguously vocal about it. Especially after a panel discussion at a certain New Zealand school where he hinted at what’s to come.
A Switch-like console is hardly far from reality, though. With Chinese OEMs, like GPD, Aya, and One-Netbook, already building their own versions, it’s not unlikely that Steam could follow suit.
As for which operating system could be powering Valve’s newest undertaking, it could be something open-sourced as Linux. However, a Windows operating system is also a likely probability as well. But choosing the latter could entail a more sophisticated approach in as far as making it affordable for the average gamer. Otherwise, Valve could choose to sell at a loss, with the intent to recoup on software sales once it has gotten traction.
Image used courtesy of raphaelsilva/Pixabay