Valve is apparently developing a handheld console that runs Steam on it, according to a database change.
This was spotted by SteamDB developer Pavel Djundik, who spotted an update to the code in Steam’s latest client beta from the previously-known “Neptune” controller to also include the words “SteamPal” and “SteamPal Games”.
The code also refers to a “quick access menu” and a “power menu”, hinting at some kind of console-like interface, similar to the quick menus you find on Xbox, Switch and PlayStation platforms.
“Neptune” was the original codename for this project, the origins of which traces all the way back to a Steam client update in September last year. For a more detailed look at this, see Djundik’s tweets embedded below.
While Pocket Gamer is unable to verify this ourselves, other sources such have been able to confirm such a console exists. According to Sam Machkovech from Ars Technica, the console will be an all-in-one PC with an attached gamepad and touchscreen, not too dissimilar to the design of the Nintendo Switch.
This update also added a "quick access menu" and a "power menu" I have a feeling all these strings related to "Neptune": https://t.co/Ih0K2y4E5A Is Valve making a handheld Steam console? — Pavel Djundik (@thexpaw) May 25, 2021
While it’s still in the prototype stage, the source also says it will run on Linux, using a processor manufactured by either AMD or Intel. Other Switch-like features include the ability to dock it into a larger display such as a television or computer monitor.
One big concern about the SteamPal is its pricing model. If the device is targeting 2021 standards of hardware fidelity, then it will simply be too expensive for your average consumer. You need only look at the recently revealed One XPlayer, which is priced at an early bird price of $899 USD, to see this type of gaming platform isn’t accessible to many people, especially when the Switch’s $299 price tag is much more attractive.
Valve should be revealing more details about the SteamPal later this year.Read about some of our favourite mobile games that have launched this year