Gamers are eagerly awaiting the release of Steam Deck, the handheld gaming device recently announced by Valve. Set to ship in December this year, it gives on-the-go access to the Steam library and can also function as a portable PC. Users will be able to browse the internet, replace SteamOS with Windows, and help themselves to third-party options like Xbox Game Pass and Epic Games Store. It’s also worth watching how the Steam Deck is integrated into the world of esports. Valve boss Gabe Newell has said that “as a gamer, this is a product I’ve always wanted. And as a game developer, it’s the mobile device I’ve always wanted for our partners.”
Will the Steam Deck be regarded as a direct rival of the Nintendo Switch? It’s an obvious question, given the physical similarity of the two devices. The Steam Deck was also unveiled by Valve on the very day that pre-orders opened for the upcoming Nintendo Switch OLED. Memes pitting the two against each other have already been doing the rounds on social media. We used data from Statista’s Global Survey on Nintendo and Steam brand usage to see the demographics and values of users, and if Nintendo should be concerned.
When asked whether they agreed with the statement that “always owning the latest technology is important to me”, 25% of US Nintendo eShop users and 24% of US Steam users said they did, compared to 21% and 19% of their respective UK peers. This may indicate more American than British gamers will show interest in the Steam Deck, which as a portable PC represents a bigger technological step than the Switch OLED. This in turn could mean Valve may pose a bigger threat to Nintendo’s market dominance in the US compared to the UK.
More US than UK gamers also agreed with the statement that “products that I have to buy have to meet the highest standards” (a combined total of 73% Nintendo eShop and Steam users, compared to 60% of their UK peers). This, again, may indicate that American consumers are more likely to be attracted to the flashy new specs of the devices, and also place more scrutiny on how the Switch and Steam Deck measure up.
There is a gender divide to consider as well. According to the data, Steam is far more popular with males than females in both the UK (73% male usage) and the US (69% male usage). Things are a little more balanced among Nintendo eShop users, especially in the UK where the users are 54% male and 46% female. It’s also worth keeping in mind that between 40-47% of both Steam and Nintendo eShop users in the US and UK said they’d “only buy new technology when it has proven successful”. This suggests both devices may have something to prove before a large chunk of potential buyers snap up the Steam Deck or Switch OLED.