The Steam Deck: A True Switch Competitor?


When Valve revealed its Steam Deck hardware last year, many fans quickly noted that the portable gaming PC could prove to be a real competitor to the Nintendo Switch.

While Nintendo fights for market share with Sony and Microsoft in the gaming industry, the Switch is a unique device. It’s a hybrid console, meaning it’s both a home console and a portable tablet that gamers can take with them. 

As great as the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are, they’re tethered to your living room wall. Nintendo is simply providing a service that Microsoft and Sony can’t match.

The Steam Deck, on the other hand, does a pretty good job of imitating the Switch’s best features. It allows you to take your Steam Library on the go, and it also connects to your TV if you want to play games on the big screen. But is it a proper competitor from the Switch?


For the most part, the Steam Deck emulates the best parts of the Switch’s hybrid functionality. If you already have a Steam account and a gaming PC, it can act as your “home” console, while the Deck is your “portable” platform. You can play your entire Steam library from the Deck, too, which makes it a no-brainer purchase for PC gamers.

However, the Deck doesn’t have detachable controllers like the Switch. It also doesn’t sport a kickstand that allows it to sit up on a table.

As such, it’s not a multiplayer staple like the Switch. It’s a common sight to see gamers playing Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros on a propped-up tabletop Switch, each using one of the system’s two built-in Joy-Cons as a controller.

The Games

If you’re already a PC gamer with a deep Steam library, you might not think twice about grabbing a Steam Deck. Its higher price point compared to the Switch won’t bother you, as you’re not spending more money buying games like you would with Nintendo’s hybrid system.

On the other hand, Nintendo’s offering is much more attractive to customers who aren’t already entrenched in Valve’s ecosystem. After all, if you’re going to be buying games, either way, the $300 system is an easier sell than the $500 one that has comparable use cases.

Beyond that, the Switch can play Nintendo games, like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, highly popular titles that are exclusive to the system. As such, while the Steam Deck might be a competitor to the Switch, it’s unlikely that Valve’s system actually outsells Nintendo’s popular hybrid console.