How to Pre-order Valve's Steam Deck

Steam Deck with case
(Image credit: Valve)

Valve announced its portable PC gaming machine, the Steam Deck. While the device, which starts at $399, begins shipping in December, it will be available for a reservation starting today (Friday, July 16).

This isn't a standard pre-order. You're not putting money down now and getting it shipped later. Instead, you're reserving a spot in line. 

Valve's reservation system is set to open at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT on Steam, where you will have to log in with your Steam account to reserve one of the three different configurations. To do so, you'll be charged a $5 fee to show you're serious about your intent to purchase.

In an attempt to prevent resellers and scalpers from getting their hands on limited stock, Valve has a bit of a guard rail in place. Until Sunday, July 18, only those who have bought something on Steam before June 2021 will be able to make a reservation. Additionally, each customer can only reserve one handheld.

Once your reservation is placed, you're put in a virtual line for inventory, which will be sold as it is produced. "Once inventory is available, you will be emailed in the order reservations were made," Valve's FAQ says.

You will only be charged in full once it's available and you check out. After that, the $5 fee will be put towards the final purchase price.

Right now, you can only reserve a Steam Deck in the United States, United Kingdom, European Union and Canada.

This system, including requiring a Steam account in a certain standing, is more complicated than pre-orders have been for consoles like the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. But those have also been plagued by scalpers who have resold the systems way above retail price. We'll see if this plan works out for both Valve and gamers who want to try the new device.

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Threads @FreedmanAE and Mastodon