While the video game industry is wondering how much Steam Deck has to sell to be a successful console, Valve is rubbing its hands because its business model goes beyond hardware. In this special we talk about how the launch of this portable console is changing the perception of the PC gamer.
Steam Deck is being the subject of much speculation about its possible success. I think we should all start from the same starting point: this console is not designed to sell the millions and millions of units which is capable of doing other portable machines such as Nintendo Switch today. We don’t even need to focus on the most successful case, nor will it sell at PSP levels or any of the Game Boy’s in history. In fact, if it reaches the numbers that PS Vita achieved at the time, it would be interesting in itself.
Why? Because Valve’s business model isn’t just selling hardware. Of course, this could also be said of any of the other first-party companies dedicated to their consoles: they sell hardware and then get royalties from the sale of both physical and digital games through their Stores. But, as much as its stores are strong in sales, I think it is not quite comparable to what Steam is today in terms of catalog volume and digital sales. I have been able to see Valve’s strategy first hand. Ever since the Steam sales craze that started at the beginning of the last decade passed me by, accompanied by all kinds of memes and celebrations, the truth is that I have bought fewer and fewer games. I was tired of spending my money on deals for titles I didn’t play and they were piling up in my catalogue. Others, in addition, I bought them in other stores because they were more comfortable for me. Well on consoles to play on the couch, well on GOG, for example, for having my catalog of retro games there.
Since I got the Steam Deck, however, something has happened: I have Steam in my sights again as the store where I am most interested in buying games because of the compatibility with SteamOS and the convenience of the Steam Deck. Now, whenever I see a game I’m interested in, I use the Steam wishlist more and keep an eye out for weekly and seasonal sales again. I can imagine that the thousands of users of the machine are doing something similar: prioritize what they can play on the laptop for its great comfort.
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Valve’s business model isn’t just selling hardwareThis is Valve’s plan, in my opinion. The console does not need to sell many millions to be a successful product, since gets feedback from the sales in your store. Think that, during the last years, the competition has been fiercer than before for Valve, which practically had the paid field. Stores like UPlay, Microsoft or EA were unable to compete and, today, publish their games on Steam. But little by little other stores like GOG and especially Epic are fighting for a piece of the pie and every sale that is made elsewhere does not count for Newell’s company. With this machine, it at least ensures that its most loyal audience returns to prioritizing Steam as its main platform, while trying to appeal to the console audience that refuses to play sitting at the desk.
According to SteamDB, Steam Deck continues to be one of the most demanded products on the platform, taking over the top of the chart week after week since its launch, fighting with that earthquake that has been Elden Ring, even beating FromSoftware’s game in some cases. Doing numbers, it is estimated that the console will not take long to reach a million units, especially seeing the forecasts of reserves that have been analyzed.
I don’t think their sales are ever very buoyant, but word of mouth is starting to workAlthough I don’t think its sales will ever be very buoyant, it is true that word of mouth is beginning to work. Players who were previously skeptical about the possible good health of this console have ended up taking an interest in it and even pressing that reserve button. I have a few friends who didn’t succumb to the pre-order campaign and are now looking forward to the console after watching videos and hearing the good reviews. And, as I said at the beginning of the article, all this doesn’t just mean hardware sales, but succulent sales in the digital store of all those users who, through Steam Deck, return to the fold.