Valve may be planning to step into the handheld hardware business at last. Multiple references to something called "SteamPal" have been found in the company's latest update, leading to speculation that it could be working on a portable console
Typically eagle-eyed SteamDB founder Pavel Djundik (thanks, Reddit user tealpilledgamer) was first to spot references to "SteamPal" and "Steampal Games", both of which are seemingly related to some kind of "Neptune" controller.
Speaking of portable powerhouses, this mini PC might just be the mightiest hardware we've ever seen for its wee size:
The update also added references to things like brightness, power, quick access, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, device settings, rumble and haptics, and an airplane mode, the last of which certainly suggests some form of handheld device.
Valve has released a handful of hardware in the past, including the Valve Index VR headset and Steam controller. The company has yet to release anything resembling a traditional console however, most likely because most of us would be playing and accessing our Steam games via our PCs. The idea of being able to access our Steam library on some kind of high-quality handheld, however? That's a very exciting prospect, although I imagine such hardware wouldn't come cheap.
There are a handful of prototypes out there for portable PC gaming, of course, but the ones that actually do currently exist on the market are seriously expensive, impractical to actually carry around, or both. It'd certainly be fitting if Valve were the first company to come out with a handheld console designed specifically for Steam games at a semi-affordable price.
With the Nintendo Switch proving there's still a huge market for handheld gaming, a pricier device that offered a more high-end PC-style experience has the potential to be a game changer, at least among the more "hardcore" gamers out there. Watch this space.
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