A year after its official launch, it's clear that Valve's Steam Deck PC Gaming handheld has been an unquestionable success. Despite early production backlogs, Valve's device has received a mostly warm response from reviewers (us included), and it's currently occupying the number three spot on the company's own global best sellers list (for whatever that means, exactly).
But a year on, in a market focused on performance and upgrades, people have naturally been wondering when we might see a sequel to the device, offering up better performance – especially after testing has shown its limits in the latest games. But a recent interview with Valve designer Lawrence Yang and engineer Pierre-Loup Griffais over at Rock Paper Shotgun has thrown cold water on anyone hoping for a more powerful Steam Deck to arrive any time in the next couple years.
Yang does admit that the device's success "has made us even more excited to look closely at what can be improved." But he's clear that there's basically no chance that your existing Steam Deck (or one you might buy in the near future, naturally) is going to feel obsolete for years to come (at least in terms of performance). Yang told the gaming outlet that "a true next-gen Deck with a significant bump in horsepower wouldn’t be for a few years."
Of course, we'd already heard late last year that the next iteration of the Steam Deck was likely going to be focused on screen and battery improvements, rather than pushing more pixels. So we weren't expecting the company to move beyond its custom AMD Van Gogh-based APU in 2023. Now it seems likely that on-the-go gamers will have to wait until at least 2026 (or perhaps holiday season, 2025?) to get a true follow-up device from Valve.
This gives handheld competitors like Ayaneo a fairly large window to deliver something significantly more powerful. But those devices so far have been much more expensive than the Steam Deck, and to varying degrees, less refined. So we imagine that plenty of people will just hold tight to their existing Decks and see how things play out over the next few years.
Of course, Valve also has no real business reason to tell anyone about its future Steam Deck plans, now that it's got its production kinks ironed out and its existing device is apparently selling very well. If and when sales slide precipitously, or key games become truly unplayable on the first-gen device, the company may suddenly be more forthcoming about its plans for a more powerful portable PC.
Presuming it's already hard at work on designs for a next-gen device behind closed doors, if Valve can source the necessary new components, it could certainly move up those plans to sometime before early 2026. Or at least that's what the on-the-go gamer in me wants to believe.