Valve may end up being Nintendo's greatest competitor in the retro gaming market.
According to PC Gamer, Valve's new Steam Deck is an emulation dream machine. The Steam Deck has one-click access to all of the latest emulators, including Dolphin, DuckStation, PCSX2, BSNES, and even Yuzu, the Nintendo Switch emulator. Gamers can access this list of emulators by switching to the system's desktop mode by holding down the power button--there's no need to enter command lines.
This easy access, setup, and execution of emulators could eat Nintendo's retro gaming lunch. Nintendo is removing all Virtual Console games from sale, and by next year in 2023, the Nintendo Switch Online subscription will be the only way to buy and play old-school retro games on Nintendo platforms. Before now there hasn't been an easy way to play older games on handhelds without the use of configuring, jailbreaking and obtaining software downloads/patches, etc.
Although the Steam Deck is hard to find and probably won't match Nintendo Switch sales, the platform offers something that Nintendo is hoping to completely control: Choice and options for old retro Nintendo games.
"It's not just a portable PC. It's a portable retro console wonderland." --@Onion00048
Nintendo is hoping to lock down its retro games to a lease-based subscription model (think of how Photoshop used to be buyable, but now it's only available with a subscription) in an effort to boost its digital earnings, reduce friction points, and create an environment where consumers are encouraged to continually spend over time instead of with one-off purchases.
Valve, on the other hand, is inadvertently creating an environment of easy access and choice for gamers on a level that literally mirrors the freedom of desktop PC gaming. After all, the Steam Deck runs Arch Linux and is a fully-fledged PC that can run games and programs; it's not a locked-down ecosystem like the Switch, PS5, or Xbox Series X/S.
It'll be interesting to see how (and if) Nintendo responds, especially given its incredibly tough stance on emulation and ROMs.
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