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Steam Deck Shipments “More Than Doubling” This Week—So Let’s Estimate How Many

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For anyone trying to buy a modern piece of gaming hardware, good news is starting to seep through the monotonous clouds of chip shortages and manufacturing hold-ups. This week’s optimism comes from a player off the expected console- and GPU-making fray.

Valve, the longtime software maker responsible for most of the spectacular Steam Deck handheld PC, announced Monday that it has put on hold that system’s “shipping estimate” schedule. According to Valve, everyone who has ordered a Steam Deck system with a “Q2 2022” shipping window has been emailed with the option to order and pay for their device.

The real news begins with buyers in the third quarter of 2022, as they will be contacted in higher quantities from June 30.

“Production has increased,” Valve’s official Steam Deck social channel announced on Monday. “After today, we’ll be shipping more than double the number of Steam decks each week!”

A vague guess of what “more than double” would mean

It is currently difficult to determine how many systems there may be. Valve has kept Steam Deck shipment statistics private since that system’s February 2022 launch. For now, we have a fuzzy way to estimate Steam deck ownership, as the system received support adding a patch to the Steam hardware survey in May, which allows PC owners to choose to divulge their system specs. allows.

Currently, the Steam Hardware Survey includes exactly one line item that pertains to Steam Deck hardware: “AMD Custom GPU 0405.” This RDNA 2 graphics solution is part of Steam Deck’s custom AMD system-on-chip (SoC), not found on any other computing device on the market. Steam’s May Hardware Survey counts the userbase of 0405 as a sliver of the service’s userbase: 5.2 percent of all Linux users, which itself is 1.12 percent of all Steam users. (This AMD GPU does not appear in the OS-agnostic count of all GPUs on Steam.)

Steam’s last announced figure of 132 million monthly active users came in early 2022. If we apply the percentage from the Steam Hardware survey to that figure, we can estimate that there were approximately 77,000 Steam Deck systems in the wild when Valve’s process automatically collected data. Last week of May. (While Steam users tend to take in the Steam Hardware Survey, this is still the best estimate we have of the Steam user base.)

The deck system included in the Steam Hardware Survey was supposed to arrive and be active by the end of May, which leaves us with a shipping window of 12 weeks: February 28 to May 23. We can roughly estimate that 6,400 steam decks per week were shipped from Valve’s manufacturing lines to customers in their early days. Manufacturing and shipping capacity could begin to “more than double” at 13,000 weekly steam deck shipments. (A margin of error could mean that the May survey calculated 11 or 13 weeks’ worth of shipped deck PCs.)

Still an order of magnitude behind the Nintendo Switch

As of press time, a Valve representative has not responded to Ars Technica’s questions regarding the steam deck manufacturing and shipping processes. The best insight we can get comes from Valve designer and engineer Lawrence Yang, who Told fans through his Twitter account“As you can imagine, it’s very hard to build the hardware right now, and the team is working behind the scenes to accelerate the production of Steam decks.”

Valve’s announcement comes after a significant increase in GPU availability over the past month, although in that case, the count may have as much to do with manufacturing efficiency as it does massively backtracking into cryptocurrency mining operations. The drop in prices on both new and used hardware indicates a stabilization of that supply and demand line, but it is arguably being affected by the used GPUs that beat cryptomining before landing on the used marketplace. . We’ll have to wait for Nvidia’s long-standing RTX 4000 series of GPUs to see if the new PC GPUs can overcome modern manufacturing hurdles.

Current-gen console makers are still struggling to tread water in consumer demand, as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S families are sold perennially both online and at big-box retailers. Because of their parts allocation, those console families are projected to be in short supply through 2022. Many of those orders are exclusive to paid services like Walmart+, Best Buy TotalTech and Amazon Prime; If you don’t want to pay for such services, consider following knowledgeable online-shopping trackers on social media, though their notices usually require you to act within hours or less.

Perhaps the best reference for both consumer demand and manufacturing speed is the Nintendo Switch, whose three models combined sold 23.06 million units worldwide during Nintendo’s fiscal year 2022, or about 443,000 systems per week. Valve is clearly catching on to both manufacturing and consumer demand to reach anywhere near a Switch-like shipping rate, but to Valve’s credit, the deck hasn’t sold out on hardware store shelves. Any Steam deck orders placed today fall into the backlog of shipping “after the third quarter of 2022″—though that estimate could tighten as the deck’s shipping speeds up in the coming weeks.

Compared to other gaming-hardware makers, this week’s announcement could be good news for a different group of gaming fans: virtual reality users. Valve’s apparent work on a new VR system continues to leak Its source engine mentions, If Valve is building out a more simply Steam Deck system now, that could apply to any future VR system launches.

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