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Steam Deck is struggling to run big games, should we worry?

Two of 2024's biggest games are currently unsupported on Steam Deck, so is a new generation device needed due to these compatability issues?

An image of a steam deck overlaid on a close up image of Aloy from Horizon Forbidden West

For over two years the Steam Deck has transformed how we interact with our game libraries. We can now play some of our favorite games wherever we like, with more convenience than a gaming laptop and more power than other traditional handhelds like the Nintendo Switch. Recent developments, however, have me worried that until a new generation of Steam Deck models is released, game compatibility could start to shrink when it comes to triple-A titles.

You can already play some of the best PC games of all time on the Steam Deck, and I would argue that, as one of the best handheld gaming PCs ever made, it’s forged a new appreciation for portable gaming that the PC audience wasn’t expecting. 

That being said, two huge releases from the last month, Dragon’s Dogma 2 and Horizon Forbidden West, have failed Valve’s compatibility testing and have been branded ‘Unsupported’ for Steam Deck. 

This is by no means a call for panic, but it feels like the first stage in what is going to be a long and drawn-out need for a new generation of Steam Deck sooner rather than later. While other gaming handhelds like the Asus ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion Go boast more raw power, there is a simplicity to the Steam Deck that often sees it preferred over these other consoles.

This simplicity is the reason why many games might take Valve’s decision on Horizon Forbidden West as fact, when in reality, the game does run quite well on Steam Deck without the need for mods, but you need to tinker with the settings for a while to find the sweet spot. This added user input is likely what Valve has determined as too much effort, thus deeming the game unsupported.

Still, many people will see two of 2024’s biggest releases as unsupported on Steam Deck, and it will raise questions about how much longer it can keep up with new, graphically demanding releases. With over 14,000 compatible games, there’s no concern about whether or not there will be enough content for the Deck, but we’ll be closely following the status of major triple-A games on the handheld for the rest of this year. 

We know that a Steam Deck 2 is being worked on, but Valve has gone on record stating that there is no timeline for the project, instead inferring that the time is right when there is a genuine need for the technology to improve.

Of course, there is an entire crowd of Steam Deck owners who are more than happy to keep their finger on the pulse when it comes to performance mods. These offer a way of improving performance in major games above and beyond the typical Proton compatibility tools.

While this is fantastic to see, the average Steam Deck owner will want their handheld to define ‘pick up and play’, meaning no messing around with mods or anything outside of the SteamOS.

I believe we are far from reaching the moment where Valve will believe it needs to reveal or release a new generation of devices, with late 2025 being the earliest I can see a new generation arriving. However, competition may overrule better judgment because Valve will not want competitors jumping the gun with their next-generation devices, creating a market where the Steam Deck appears outdated and no longer offers the incredible value it currently does.

If you already own a Steam Deck, we’ve compiled an ever-growing list of the best Steam Deck games that you should play on your handheld PC.