Valve’s thoughts on the release of the Asus ROG Ally PC gaming handheld betray the company’s approach to the PC handheld gaming ecosystem.

The first mainstream competitor to Valve’s Steam Deck is a substantially more powerful device that still manages to maintain a competitive price point, making comparisons between the two devices very interesting indeed. Notably, the Asus ROG Ally needs some Steam Deck features to offer a more streamlined and seamless gaming experience, but the fact that it’s running Windows makes playing any modern game a breeze.

This also makes the device a veritable Game Pass powerhouse, as it can access a far wider array of applications and prerequisites than the Linux-based Steam Deck. Regardless of the ROG Ally’s superior hardware, however, it’s become obvious that the two devices are different enough that reviewers won’t be able to easily recommend one over the other, which has been a point of contention in the past.

Valve has taken to Twitter with praise and positivity for the ROG Ally launch event after the official Steam Deck Twitter account chimed in on the event, claiming that Valve was excited to see the PC handheld gaming niche grow. In other words, even though the Steam Deck now has a major competitor on the market, Asus’ efforts to step up to the task are precisely what Valve had hoped to accomplish.

While there’s no shortage of boutique companies working on handheld gaming PCs, like AYA, GPD Win, and Loki – Asus is the first big global hardware supplier to follow Valve into this new hardware category. Others are now far more likely to follow suit, and it’s possible not all of them will stick with Windows for the job.

Though the rumors of a full-fledged SteamOS release have been going around for a while now, the plan is seemingly still for Valve to eventually push its Linux-based gaming OS for anyone to use, completely for free. Once that happens, it will be possible to forego Windows for gaming purposes entirely, which would be a particularly interesting development.

After a Microsoft developer explained the Windows handheld leak, saying that it was just an internal hackathon project that didn’t end up going anywhere, it appears that the company isn’t working on an official answer to Valve’s SteamOS. That might not be a problem for Microsoft right now, but the pace at which SteamOS is developing is quite impressive indeed, and there’s no telling how competitive it might be in just a few years’ time.

The ROG Ally’s superior hardware has made it a formidable competitor, but the fact that Valve has taken this as validation of their efforts to grow the PC handheld gaming niche means it might only be the first of many similar devices. This is particularly true if Valve is successful in pushing its Linux-based gaming OS, which would make it possible to forego Windows for gaming purposes, completely for free.


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