Valve developer Pierre-Loup Griffais has revealed the initial prototypes of its Steam Deck handheld. As part of a launch event in Asia, where Valve recently expanded sales of the system, Griffais made a "showroom of development history" that features earlier iterations of the system.
It's not every day that a console maker posts prototypes of their system, much less at a launch event. Nearly all of the Steam Deck prototypes still boot up, which Griffais called "an exciting reminder of how far things have come since." Some of the units were built by hand, he added, and others were slowly mass produced.
The "family tree" begins in mid-2019. While the basic shape of the Deck is unchanged across each version, there are some notable differences, such as trackpad shape (circle vs. square), colored buttons, the Decks' color scheme and curved angles. One Deck, the flattest of the bunch, Griffais said taught Valve "a lot" about the comfort of handhelds.
Handheld comfort is something to take notice of; at the start of the month, Valve designer Greg Coomer teased that future iterations of the the Steam Deck may change the size and shape of the system. Valve would be far from the first one to make a slim version of its system.
As part of the Asia launch press event, we made the design lab into a showroom of development history. My favorite are the playable prototypes: bootable Deck family tree from mid-2019 to now, from a couple of hand-built units onto gradual mass production. pic.twitter.com/TpU5I8D50p— Pierre-Loup Griffais (@Plagman2) September 12, 2022
As for the current, bulky version of the Steam Deck, Valve recently opened official repair centers for it. Production on the system continues to ramp up, as does its release windows.