Steam Deck Pre-Orders Start Off Shaky

Valve’s new Switch-like portable PC is proving a little challenging to pre-order

Gif: Valve / Kotaku

Today, Valve began taking paid reservations for its recently announced Steam Deck, a powerful portable PC that’s invited comparisons to the Nintendo Switch. But right after pre-orders went live, Steam collapsed into server errors and other frustrating hiccups.

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Starting today at 1 p.m. ET, Valve began allowing people to put down $5 to pre-register for a Steam Deck. Within seconds of the Steam Deck pre-orders going live, people began sharing frustrating issues and errors on Twitter. During this time several members of Kotaku’s staff also struggled to get their pre-orders through.

Of course, there were the expected problems with any online pre-order process, including servers collapsing and infinite loading screens as folks desperately tried to move through the purchase process. Some customers encountered error messages warning that they were trying to buy too many items too quickly, or even worse, were unable to even start the Steam client. (This happened to me, and I’m not even trying to get a Steam Deck. I just wanted to play a game.)

Other folks are being snagged by some of the protections Valve’s put in place to prevent scalpers from grabbing up all the handheld computers. When Valve revealed the Steam Deck yesterday, its FAQ mentioned that only people who had bought something on Steam prior to June 2021 would be able to pre-order the console during the first 48 hours of availability. Seems smart, but some folks, including some of us here at Kotaku, have been erroneously informed their accounts were “too new” to reserve a Steam Deck today.

So yes, yet another hot new electronic gaming device had a terrible pre-order process. Raise your hand if you are shocked. (I see no hands.)

Announced on July 15, the Steam Deck is Valve’s spin on a portable gaming console and seems to be heavily inspired by the Nintendo Switch. Players will be able to load up (quite a few, but not all) Steam games and play them on the go or connect the device to a dock to play on a TV. The Steam Deck will start shipping this December in three flavors, including a 64GB eMMC base version that will cost $400 and a 512GB NVMe flagship that goes for $650.

You can try your luck at pre-ordering one now via Valve’s store page for the Stream Deck. As of 1:35 p.m ET, many have begun sharing messages on Twitter that they have finally been able to finalize their order. And good news here at Kotaku: All of our staff who wanted one have been able to confirm their purchase. It’s a Christmas miracle in July.

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Update, 07/16/2021 6:48 p.m. ET: The estimated “availability” dates for new reservations have slowly crept backward throughout the day. As of right now, the $399 base model is estimated to become available to purchase in Q1 2022, the mid-range $529 machine in Q2 2022, and the high-end $649 Steam Deck in (ugh) Q3 2022. Hope your FOMO’s not hitting too hard.

DISCUSSION

By
Stanley Kirk Burrell

After fighting scalpers for 6 months to get a PS5, there was no way in hell I was going to do it again for this. Had the page loaded and ready to go at 10 this morning. After about five minutes and 10 or so refreshes along the way I managed to get through the checkout process.

Considering how most retail sites completely buckle under the load from people trying to buy ps5s months after release and how steam is the only place to buy this, I’d say this went unexpectedly smoothly. More sites need to require active accounts with some history to purchase limited availability hardware. It’s not perfect, but it makes it much much more difficult for scalpers to automate hitting the site with an army of bots to snag all the available hardware right when it goes live.