This week, Valve rocked the video game industry after announcing the Steam Bridge its first handheld console. Although rumors about it have surfaced in recent months, the presentation took us all by surprise. Of course, it’s inevitable to compare it to the Nintendo Switch, a product they took inspiration from to some extent. Does this also mean that Valve intends to end Nintendo’s reign in the handheld console market?
Let’s be honest. The Steam Deck, for its features and price, is quite attractive. As this is a portable console, it was to be expected that many people would make a direct comparison to the Nintendo Switch. If we evaluate each of its specs, it’s obvious that Valve’s offering comes out on top, by far. . This has led some to believe that the Japanese console is in danger, but it is not.
The reality is, Steam Deck isn’t looking to hunt down the Nintendo Switch. far from there. Although both belong to the laptop industry, it would be normal to think that they will be pitted against each other, the potential buyers each sought out are completely different. . To be convinced, just take a close look at what matters most when buying a console: the catalog of games it offers.
The Steam Deck makes all of its Steam Library available to its future owners. In other words: the catalog of the world’s largest digital PC game store. However, if we take into account that it will also be possible to install Windows, as it is after all a laptop PC, we can also include the extensive Xbox Game Pass – for PC – catalog, the Epic Games Store and a wider range of third-party software.
Basically, the Steam Deck wants to bring the experience of computer games, as well as the PlayStation and Xbox consoles, into the palm of your hands. How does the Switch survive? Like all other Nintendo consoles of the last four decades: with Mario, Zelda and Pokémon, among other franchises exclusive to the great N. Its market is so well defined that the Steam bridge poses no threat.
The two can coexist and be successful without hindering each other. because their software offerings are very different. People buy the Switch for the latest Nintendo games, titles they won’t find anywhere else. Here is the evidence.
Nintendo Switch follows a lonely road
Unlike PlayStation and Xbox consoles, where the best-selling games are usually third-party franchises, like GTA, FIFA, or Call of Duty, on the Switch, Nintendo’s own games take the top spots. . According to data provided by the Kyoto company through March 31, 2021, the 10 best-selling titles in Switch history have been released by Nintendo itself:
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (35.39 million) Animal Crossing: New Horizons (32.63 million) Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (23.84 million) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (22.28 million) Pokémon Sword and Shield (21.10 million) Super Mario Odyssey (20.83 million) Super Mario Party (14 , 79 million) Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! (13.28 million) .Splatoon 2 (12.21 million). New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (10.44 million).
You have to go up to the fifteenth position to find a third entry: Capcom’s Monster Hunter Rise. Of the top 40 bestsellers, there are only four games for which Nintendo was not directly involved in publishing. This clearly indicates that The Switch is backed by its first-hand product catalog. . The market buys this console to take advantage of franchises that are not present on other platforms. At least not officially -hail, emulators-.
Steam Deck tackles a niche ignored by PlayStation and Xbox
If the Steam Bridge isn’t meant to steal Nintendo users… then what market does Valve want to capture? A phenomenon that PlayStation and Xbox, for one reason or another, have chosen to ignore.
PlayStation threw in the towel in the laptop industry after the PS Vita failure . Its efforts are entirely focused on maintaining its leadership in desktop consoles, a goal that has been renewed with the start of a new generation. With the PlayStation 5 off to a great start, Sony is unlikely to turn to portable hardware again.
Xbox, on the other hand, has never tried to tackle handhelds, although it has recently tried to gain traction on mobile devices with the help of Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud), its cloud gaming platform. video game streaming. Phil Spencer’s bosses are working hard to develop Xbox Game Pass and bring it to as many devices as possible. The Steam Deck will definitely be one of them.
The door was therefore open for a giant of the industry to devote its resources to offering a portable console capable of allowing us to enjoy GTA V, Call of Duty: Warzone, Destiny 2 or Assassins’s Creed Valhalla, for example.
All of the above doesn’t mean the Steam Deck has created a new segment of video game hardware, however. In fact, quite similar handheld consoles targeting the same niche have been around for years. The big difference is that almost none of them have the backing of a giant like Valve except the Nvidia Shield Portable. The latter arrived in 2013 with a limited catalog and did not take off as Nvidia had hoped.
The price of the Steam Deck, the key to success
The main advantage of the Steam Deck over its counterparts is undoubtedly its aggressive price. The legendary Gabe Newell Gabe Newell, CEO of Valve, admitted in an interview with IGN that the Steam Deck was designed with the idea of being offered at the most competitive price possible. “We knew the price was very important, so from the start we designed it with that in mind and we worked very, very hard to get to the price point that we arrived at,” he said.
It is entirely possible that Valve will lose money on every Steam deck sold, a situation normalized in the manner of PlayStation and Xbox. Of course, these are strategic moves that aim for the long term and that only companies with enormous economic potential can afford.
Valve’s main focus, in addition to dominating a niche made up of a few computer and console gamers, will also be to develop this particular market . If the Steam Deck manages to become an attractive device for more people, why not think that PlayStation and Xbox will be eager to enter the handheld business? We will see what this gives in terms of sales.