It used to be an easy choice for me to make when it came to purchasing multiplatform games: I would nearly always acquire them on the Nintendo Switch because of how simple it is to play games on a TV as well as in portable mode. The discovery of the Steam Deck has complicated the procedure for reaching that decision. Because I believe that Steam games will be available for a significantly longer period of time into the future than Nintendo Switch games will be, I am being forced to make difficult decisions regarding whether or not I will purchase video games from Valve’s online storefront rather than from Nintendo’s. The handheld gaming PC may be bulkier, have a shorter battery life, and not come with an easy dock like the Switch to throw my games onto a larger screen.
Before I bought the Steam Deck in April, I had never had a gaming personal computer of any type. This is an essential fact that I should disclose right off the bat. I spent the majority of my time playing video games on Nintendo platforms for a good portion of my gaming career. It wasn’t until the outbreak of the epidemic that I started delving really into the PlayStation and Xbox game libraries. (I purchased a PlayStation 4 for the sole purpose of playing Final Fantasy VII Remake, and things snowballed from there.)
SEEING NEARLY 200 GAMES ON MY STEAM DECK WAS EYE-OPENING
Although I have purchased quite a few Steam games during sales or through the purchase of Humble Bundles, I have only played a small subset of those games, and even then, either on dated work laptops or my personal MacBook Airs. On the other hand, the Steam Deck is a gaming device that is significantly more capable than any laptop that I have ever owned. After I had it all set up, all of a sudden I had access to roughly 200 PC games that I had previously purchased or been given for free, and I was able to play them either on my sofa or on an external monitor that was linked to my system. When I made my reservation for the Steam Deck the previous year, I was aware that this would be the case, but it was still surprising to see the games running on the device I was using at the time.
However, there is no assurance that titles developed for the Switch will be compatible with Nintendo’s upcoming flagship gaming console. At this point, all I can do is keep my fingers crossed and hope that Nintendo will choose to make that console backward-compatible with the Switch games I already own. For my part, I’m not putting any stock in it because Nintendo is always looking for innovative methods to resell previously released games.
I really wished that I could have transferred Mario Kart 8 from my Wii U to the Switch, but in order for me to be able to play it with my coworkers while we were all sick with the pandemic, I had to fork over the extra money and get Mario Kart 8 Deluxe instead. Although one of the key benefits of subscribing to Nintendo Switch Online is getting access to classic games, I’ve noticed that none of the Virtual Console titles I’ve purchased in the past can be played on my Switch console. Additionally, Nintendo is not reluctant to close its retail locations.
On the other hand, if I purchase something through Steam and it is compatible with the Steam Deck at the time of purchase, I can be reasonably confident that it will also be compatible with any potential subsequent Steam Deck or gaming-capable computer that I purchase in the foreseeable future (as long as the game is compatible with the operating system that I’m using, of course). In the video game industry, anything can happen at any time, so perhaps I shouldn’t tempt fate by saying this, but Valve appears to have a successful venture going on. This is a significant assumption on my part, but I think it’s safe to say that Valve won’t be bought out or vanish off the face of the earth.
I should also mention that on my Steam Deck, I’ve generally gone toward smaller and independent titles like Hotline Miami, Inside, and The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe. These games are examples of what I mean. I have a feeling those are the kinds of games I will want to go back to at some point in the future, and it will be a lot simpler for me to just redownload them on my personal computer rather than having to search for my Switch when it inevitably moves out of its spot on the stand where it has been sitting all this time.
I haven’t fully committed to Valve’s ecosystem just yet because it’s a hassle to play Steam Deck games on my TV, despite the fact that I adore the Steam Deck and the possibility that the Steam platform will make it easy for me to access games years and years from now. This is due to the fact that the Steam platform will let me easily access games in the future. Even while the Steam Deck can connect to external monitors, there is still not an alternative that is quite as straightforward as the Switch experience. One of the things that makes the Switch so magical is how easily it transitions from handheld mode to TV mode when you place the device in its dock.
I REALLY HATE THAT WE HAD TO WAIT FOR THE STEAM DECK DOCK.
I had been looking forward to the official Steam Deck dock to see if that may get me closer, but as it turns out, the launch has been pushed back, so I will have to continue to wait. However, despite the fact that I do not believe the Steam Deck will ever be as simple to play on a television as a Switch, it might be worth putting up with a small amount of inconvenience in order to be able to play PC games from the past several decades on the television in my own home and to have the peace of mind that anything I buy now will probably be compatible with other PCs in the future.
The Switch is still my go-to console for a good number of titles at this point. (Of course, there are also major titles like Zelda and Metroid that are exclusive to the Switch, and you can only play them on that system.) But a decision that was once easy for me to make now requires a lot of careful consideration on my part, and if Valve keeps working to improve the Steam Deck, future decisions are likely to be even more challenging.
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