The Steam Deck is not a flop

Valve’s Steam Deck portable gaming PC was the #2 highest-grossing product on Steam for five consecutive weeks according to SteamDB.

I’m justified – because that means it’s not a flop.

Early estimates suggested more than 110,000 people put down a $5 deposit for the unproven Linux handheld in the first 90 minutes after it went on sale last July, but there was still a chance they change their mind. I thought many would after reading reviews like mine! And while I to have saw a handful of people in r/SteamDeck get their five bucks back… almost every other sign suggests to me that it’s selling well.

While we don’t have official sales figures for the Steam Deck, here’s some background that might put things into perspective:

Elden Ring banner art, depicting a knight beneath glowing rings of fire.

Elden Ring is the context.

The Steam Deck launched the same week as Ring of Elden, currently one of the most popular games in the world. For four of the past five weeks, the Steam Deck has been second only to Ring of Elden revenue according to SteamDB. But last week the Steam Deck sold out better that Ring of Elden.

Admittedly, these are the most profitable numbers, not the unit sales numbers, so you can’t weigh them in the same way. At $60 each, you need 7 copies of Ring of Elden to match the amount of revenue a single $400 Steam Deck brings in; 11 copies if we are talking about a $650 512GB model. It is also possible that Ring of Elden saw the bulk of its sales pre-launch and during launch rather than in the weeks after – Ring of Elden pre-orders were also registered in November and January. But I doubt the game has really come to a standstill given the incredible word of mouth that has followed it since its debut on February 24.

Anyway, we are talking about a game that had already sold 12 million copies since March 16; where – at least in Europe – nearly half of those sales were on PC; and where “PC” effectively means Steam because it’s not on Epic or the Windows Store. So these most profitable numbers 1 and 3 for Ring of Elden on Steam probably represent a ground of copies.

If the Steam Deck at #2 even sells a significant fraction of Ring of Elden while rejecting everything else except Lego Star Wars, it’s going to be really hard to call the Deck a flop.

Valve’s Lawrence Yang said in February that the company would ramp up production to produce “hundreds of thousands of units” in its second month, and go from there. “If we get it right, we’re going to sell them in the millions of units,” Valve president Gabe Newell said. IGN last July.

Are we already there? Valve hasn’t said, and probably won’t say, having mostly reverted to its traditional silent mode since the Steam Deck launched.

If the crowd data can be trusted, it looks like Steam Deck sales won’t be dropping anytime soon. Yes, Valve’s first-come, first-served reservations are currently saved until “October 2022 or later,” so anyone depositing $5 now likely won’t be counted as a buyer for many months.

But also, the r/SteamDeck community understood that Valve is still working on the first fifteen minutes pre-orders of the very first day you can reserve one: July 16, 2021. Some lines have accelerated, but the United States just passed hour oneand only with the 64 GB model.

In other words, Valve’s Steam Deck was the top-grossing product on Steam for five weeks due to a single day of pre-order reservationsand everyone who’s placed an order since then – heck, almost everyone who’s made up their minds after taking the time to read a few reviews – has yet to be counted in that raw number.

I pre-ordered 1 hour and 35 minutes after launch because Valve’s store was having issues. Unless Valve plays things fast and loose and counts “reserved” units as already sold, it might be weeks before my 64GB unit counts towards the total.

Incidentally, estimates that 994,000 Steam accounts, plus or minus 10%, deposited a $5 deposit.

There’s another reason to think the Steam Deck isn’t a flop: people love it. I know it, and my friends and colleagues who have had good luck with pre-orders tell me they feel the same way.

I know I said it was a mess, because it was, but Valve and the devs have been cleaning up this mess week after week since launch, and it’s getting better all the time. I mostly play Ring of Elden and vampire survivors right now, but I haven’t had a crash in a while, and games that didn’t work before are opening – games I was complaining about like Back 4 Blood and Halo: The Master Chief Collection and duck game are either repaired or in the process of being repaired, even if fortnite and Destiny 2′The owners refuse to bite. I played a bunch of duck game last night.

I heard Amazon’s new world might even work now, although I haven’t tried it yet.