Last week, Valve announced the Steam Deck portable PC and revealed that “preorders” would start on Friday. Valve did not reveal the Steam Deck’s actual release date. It did reveal that the console would be available in December to those who preorder. The Steam Deck “preorder” involves paying $5 upfront, which will be put towards the purchase of the chosen model. It turns out that a significant number of buyers preordered the Switch OLED alternative. The Steam Deck quikckly sold out, with ship dates slipping all the way to summer 2022.
Valve attempted to prevent scalpers from hoarding the initial Steam Deck supply and set a specific rule for preorders. Only Steam account holders who had made at least one purchase before June 2021 could order the Steam Deck initially. For 48 hours starting last Friday, people with brand new Steam accounts were locked out of the ordering process.
Even so, Valve’s servers crumbled under the load. Steam Deck registration opened in North America in Europe, and many people found themselves unable to preorder the console.
Mysterious release date
Valve did not reveal any Steam Deck release date information during its announcement. It’s unclear how many units it might have on hand in December and whether the current chip shortage will impact its ability to meet demand in any way.
Valve sells three Steam Deck versions, with the cheapest one starting at $399. That’s slightly more expensive than the new Switch OLED and comes with 64GB of onboard storage. The 256GB and 512GB models feature NVMe storage and sell for $529 and $649, respectively.
The company did not disclose preorder figures either, as ship dates started slipping. But an issue in the site’s code allowed people to find actual preorder figures.
In the first 90 minutes, Valve sold over 110,000 Steam Deck units with NVMe storage. Most of the sales came from North America, according to what people could find online before Valve patched the problem.
Steam deck sold out until September 2022
After about half an hour of errors, I managed to preorder the 256GB version in Europe. The ship date had already slipped to the first quarter of 2021 by then. Assuming everyone goes through with their purchase, my Steam Deck’s release date would be sometime between January and March 2021.
The estimates are even worse for North America, where the 512GB model is expected to be available in the third quarter of 2022. That’s according to estimates on Sunday. Preordering the most expensive Steam Deck right now means you’d have to wait about a year to get it. The cheaper models will ship between April and June 2022. The delivery estimates for all three models remain at Q1 2022 for Europe.
One of Valve’s other rules is that you’ll have to buy the Steam Deck unit you registered for. You can’t change your mind while you wait for Valve to start processing orders.
That said, scalpers are already listing Steam Deck preorders online for significant markups. That’s even though we’re months away from the console’s release.
It’s unclear whether Valve will have any extra stock to sell on the launch date now that the console is sold out. But ship dates might improve as buyers ditch their place in line. Valve will refund your $5 to your bank account (within 30 days) or in Steam credit.