Valve has now confirmed that its shiny new gizmo known as the Steam Deck won't have exclusive games. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the marketing blitz that the publisher has devoted to the upcoming machine, but considering that the Steam Deck's nearest analog – the Nintendo Switch – relies heavily on exclusive games, it was probably worth noting.
In a FAQ intended to answer questions that developers may have about the Steam Deck, when asked about the possibility of Steam Deck exclusives, Valve said: "No, that doesn't make much sense to us. It's a PC and it should just play games like a PC." Though the machine will run a modified version of Valve's existing SteamOS which will only play Steam-enabled games, it will also have a desktop mode that will allow users to run third-party applications.
On the go — It's pretty clear that Valve thinks of the Steam Deck as a "portable PC," with all of the benefits and drawbacks that such a concept carries with it. For example, while the Steam Deck will presumably be able to run any PC game you throw at it, that does meant that it'll run it well, and who knows how it will deal with emulators like DOSBox and RetroArch.
Earlier in November, Valve delayed the release of its shiny new toy to February 2022 due to ongoing supply chain issues. The fancy handheld was supposed to debut in December 2021, but unfortunately, you aren't going to see one in your stocking this year. If you're a game developer, good luck getting a Steam Deck dev kit, as it seems that the machines will be quite hard to get before its retail release.
Waning of an era — As a whole, the concept of "exclusive games" has become less and less relevant to PC gamers over the past few years, especially now that Microsoft has committed to bringing all Xbox games to computers as well. Still, if you're a hardcore PlayStation user, Microsoft has snapped up quite a few notable publishers in recent years, particularly Bethesda, so you aren't going to be able to play big games like Starfield on your PS5. The fight continues, albeit on a smaller battlefield.