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A new Steam Deck OS is coming, and it could transform Valve’s handheld

With plenty of brands lining up to push new handheld gaming PCs to market, Playtron is taking a software approach, and it just might work.

The Playtron logo shopped onto a Steam Deck, Lenovo Legion Go, and smartphone

So many competitors are coming for Valve’s crown when it comes to gaming on the go, but one new startup is placing a big emphasis on its operating system, and it may cause the Steam Deck some real problems. Playtron has secured $10m in funding, and it’s really impressed us with an early demo of its Linux-based OS.

We consider the Steam Deck OLED to be the best handheld gaming PC that money can buy, with genuine contenders often beating it in terms of raw power, but not when it comes to the operating system. Both the Lenovo Legion GO and ROG Ally are great devices that are often let down by the Windows OS, which can sometimes make games trickier to play compared to Valve‘s approach with SteamOS.

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While Playtron will be releasing a handheld to directly compete with the Steam Deck, the more interesting news is the new PlaytronOS, which looks set to act as a kind of one OS to rule them all. Not only does it support both x86 and Arm CPUs, but it also promises compatibility with “every game store”. Indeed, Steam is listed as a storefront that will run on PlaytronOS according to promotional material on the website.

Basically, if PlaytronOS works as promised, then your handheld PC will no longer be restricted to just single store fronts or Windows foibles. You could easily run your Game Pass catalog on your Steam Deck, for example. What’s more, the support for Arm CPUs could potentially make an Nvidia handheld a stronger possibility, as the company doesn’t have an x86 licence but has plenty of experience producing Arm CPUs.

a mockup of the playtron handheld with descriptions for the gaming libraries it will work with and comparisons to windows and Steam OS

Valve openly welcomed Steam Deck competition in the handheld market earlier this year, but perhaps it could be getting more than it bargained for now, given that the only potential new competitor at the time was the unreleased MSI Claw.

The Playtron handheld and OS are both in early development and we won’t see a dedicated handheld soon. However, PlaytronOS is set to arrive later this year, with the trailer video showing compatibility with the Lenovo Legion Go.

If you already have a Steam Deck and are looking for some new games, we’ve picked out seven Steam Deck games you need to play from the selection included in the Spring Sale.