These working prototypes reveal the evolution of the Steam Deck

A photograph of a line of Steam Deck prototypes
A range of Steam Deck prototypes showing the evolutionary journey of Valve’s handheld gaming PC. | Photo: Pierre-Loup Griffais

A collection of playable Steam Deck prototypes surface as part of a gaming handheld launch event in Asia, documenting the evolution of the design since mid-2019. Snapshots of various models documenting the evolution of the handheld were shared on Twitter by Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffaismember of the Steam Deck team, following the appearance of portable PCs at the Tokyo Game Show (alongside another not so portable replica).

Although most units are visually similar, all featuring two thumbsticks and angled front edges, for example, there are some notable differences between them. A model seen in the middle of the range caught the eye with its sleek design and circular trackpads, reminiscent of those featured on the now-discontinued Steam Controller.

Griffais also demonstrated that the same model running an unverified version of SteamOS and the initial boot sequence of Half Life 2 (minus any actual gameplay), confirming that most prototypes are still functional. While arguably the best-looking handset in the range, Graffais mentions that its flatter design “taught us a lot about comfort” and that the Picasso APU it packs only provides about half the graphics prowess of the custom AMD Aerith APU in the final Steam Deck. pattern.

It is one of the first (if not the first) time, we saw early versions of the Valve handheld handled at a public event. Some prototype images and various moments in the design process have already been documented in a free e-book published by Valve in August 2022, although none of the models featured in Griffais’ published lineup make a notable appearance.

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