Valve is ramping up documentation and developer support for its upcoming Steam Deck console following this month’s Steamworks Virtual Conference. Specifically, Valve just published an FAQ that rounds up the more popular questions from game developers.
The majority of the new FAQ deals with topics like game testing, Steam Deck developer kits, and graphics APIs. But there are some answers (and confirmations) that consumers and Linux gaming enthusiasts will appreciate.
Here are a few that stand out to me. You can digest the entire list (including existing customer FAQs and details info about Steamworks) right here.
SteamOS 3.0: Availability, Testing and Features
We’re focused right now on finishing things up for Steam Deck’s launch, so there’s no solid date for that as of yet. Most likely not until after Steam Deck ships to customers though.
We’ll always try to update to the latest kernel version. Right now we’re using 5.13, and we’re working on an update to 5.15, and we’ll continue to roll out those changes to whatever’s latest, moving forward.
We don’t recommend you use SteamOS 2.0 for testing. The closest thing right now is Manjaro KDE, since it’s Arch Linux (just like Steam Deck) and also uses KDE. See here for the full instructions. Down the line, we expect to make an image available that will incorporate more of the bits included in Steam Deck’s OS (like gamescope and possibly gamepad-ui) for better 1:1 testing.
Steam Deck and Proton
Definitely. Proton works great with apps that are outside of Steam. And on Deck, we’ll actually be improving the UI experience to let users add non-Steam games to the main user interface.
Valve has no strong preference. It comes down to whatever’s the best experience. So if it’s easier for a developer to achieve the best experience through Proton, we think that’s great. If a developer has the understanding and the resources to deliver a native Linux build that provides a great experience and has all the expected functionality, and they are able to maintain it, then we think that’s even better.
Other Steam Deck Bits
Valve reiterated that games passing the Steam Deck Verified program will enjoy much higher visibility on Deck. The console’s default store Home page will only display Deck Verified titles. Beyond the home page, of course, the entirety of the Steam library will be available.
Valve also says it’s “working really hard” to make Steam Deck available in Japan and Australia. The platform holder is also finalizing plans with “a bunch of other countries.” So perhaps the (dreaded) 2-month delay will lead to the console launching in additional territories.
And about that gorgeous Portal-themed white Deck: Valve has no plans to manufacture and sell it, but they do want “to look at other color options in the future.”
While I’m ridiculously hyped for the Steam Deck, I’m disappointed with Valve’s decision about beta testing Steam OS 3.0. It appears that not even verified developer with early dev kits will be able to test the Linux distro. Instead, Valve is recommending using Manjaro with KDE Plasma for testing leading up to the February 2022 release. Valve also stressed that developers definitely should not use SteamOS 2.0.