As we get closer to the release date of the Steam Deck, now scheduled for February 2022 (for those who were able to pre-order a unit as part of the first wave), Valve is sharing more information on the PC handheld device and on their future plans for it.
A newly updated FAQ page dedicated to developers confirms that there won't be any exclusive games for the Steam Deck, for example. Valve doesn't believe that would make sense, as this is a PC after all and it should just play PC games.
On the hardware front, it will be possible for the GPU to access up to 8GB of VRAM, and that amount can be changed on a per-game basis. While full screen mode will be the default, games can run in windowed mode, too. SteamOS will eventually be released as a separate operating system; non-Steam apps and games can be easily installed on the Steam Deck; and Valve is working closely with Unity, Epic, and even Godot to improve these engines' support of the platform.
How Much VRAM does Steam Deck have?
Steam Deck has 16 gigabyte of unified memory. One gigabyte that's dedicated for the GPU, but depending on workload the GPU can access up to 8 GB.
Does Deck only support full screen mode?
The Steam Deck will automatically run games in full-screen by default. However, if you drop to desktop, you can run games in windowed mode.
Do you plan to release SteamOS as a standalone, general-purpose operating system?
We definitely plan on releasing SteamOS as a separate operating system. We don't have exact timing on that. We're really focused on making sure that Steam Deck is a great experience, and we'll release it for other hardware soon.
Does Deck support installing software from outside of Steam and can you use it with Proton?
Yes. You can install and add any game like you would on the Steam desktop. Just install the application and then add it to Steam from desktop mode and it'll show up just like it would on any PC.
Is Steam working closely with leading game engine developers, like Epic Games and Unity on Steam Deck?
Yes, we're working with both Unity and Epic on making sure Unreal and Unity engines have integrations that make the development experience for Deck as smooth as possible. And going forward we expect there will be improvements rolling into those engines over time to further integrate with our development tools and to make those engines a great target for Steam Deck. Already there's a pretty good experience for Unity and Unreal developers from the start.
You mentioned that you're talking with Unity and Epic, are you also talking to Godot?
Yes, we're talking to Godot as well and are actively supporting them and want their engine to work well with Steam Deck.
How many sound channels does Steam Deck support?
We support two when using the onboard speakers, but we support multi-channel when using HDMI or Bluetooth.
Will there be a way to install external apps on Deck without going into dev mode?
Yes. You'll be able to install external apps via Flatpak or other software without going into developer mode.
Other than that, Vale also confirmed previously announced information, such as the ability to use the device as an external controller for your PC and the recommendation that game developers implement an FPS limit or use the Steam Deck's own global FPS limiter.