Gaming on Steam Deck in PH

Early last year, I was thinking about getting a gaming PC. Already started asking around and looking at the prices of the components that I thought I would need to build my gaming machine. While the desire was there, something was always holding me back. (More expensive than I thought.)

Then I found out late in 2022 that Valve already made it so that you don’t have to reserve for a Steam Deck anymore. Pretty much you can just login to your Steam account and order one! It will take about 2 weeks or less, to get shipped in the USA. It used to be that this was subject to availability due to production issues. Something like a “first come, first served” basis. If you reserved one, it took months and delays before it got shipped, while also waiting on others who ordered before you.

Steam Deck

The Pitch

Having a blast with the Steam Deck. It fits my needs quite nicely with the kind of games that I like to play. Plus I can take it with me anywhere easily too. That’s the whole point of the device anyway.

Then there is the Desktop Mode! Yes, It’s practically a PC. The SteamOS that powers the Steam Deck practically runs off of Linux*. Ships in with KDE. And before I had the big screen TV, I was using my 23″ monitor to watch movies on Amazon Prime Video and Netflix via Google Chrome on the desktop. You can add other applications (I think to some extent), such as a browser, directly to Steam too. Once done, this app can be accessed easily on Game Mode. It is listed together with your games.

* What? No Windows? Not really. You can install Windows 10 and 11. You pay for the license. But Windows is supported to some degree. May not be the same Steam Deck experience compared to the stock OS/UI.

I stuck with Google Chrome because while Firefox is perfect on desktop mode (and I would have preferred FF), it was glitching out on game mode. Don’t want 2 browsers on this device. I need the space for games. Which comes to the storage part of what I purchased.

There are three tiers. This one is the 256GB tier. There is a higher capacity at 512GB and a lower one at 64GB. Prices vary according to each option, but relatively cheaper than a full PC gaming rig. Choose wisely if you plan on buying the Steam Deck. This can quite limit you as to the number of games you can install on it.

Not to worry though, it has support for expandable storage. You can fit in a microSD card in a single slot at the bottom of the Steam Deck. I heard one can practically switch cards in and out depending on what games you want to play, a la Switch style, but with more games per card. Full disclaimer: Have not tried this yet. Just make sure that you buy the microSD cards that are meant for gaming*. This can get pricey. Especially if you’re looking for the 512GB options or even higher.

* Searching on the Internet and these are the recommended specs – Type: microSDXC; Interface: UHS-I; Speed class: U3 – and it’s best you Google for this before buying one.

What can you play on it? Last I checked there are over 7,000 games that are supported. Right now, if you have a plethora of games in your Steam Library, chances are not all of these games will run on Steam Deck though. You’ll know which ones you can play when you see green and yellow icons.

Speaking of which, per-game profile is supported. This means you can configure each installed game to run at different settings and it will remember this each time you launch the game. You can adjust the refresh rate, frame rate limit, thermal power output (TDP), GPU clock control, etc.

That said, adjusting this profile per game helps to save on battery while on the go. I think, and many also share the same opinion, that the battery is one of the main weakness of the Steam Deck. Then there are other comments too about it not having an OLED screen, a more powerful CPU/GPU, etc.

How I got the Steam Deck in PH

The big caveat is that you can’t just order this from anywhere in the world, if Valve doesn’t ship to that country. Certainly not in the Philippines. The Steam Deck is still limited to a few countries* where Valve officially ships this great piece of portable gaming hardware. Gaming stores in the Philippines didn’t even know what a Steam Deck is when I asked last year. And if they did, they were like, “We don’t carry that item yet and no plans in the forseeable future due to little to no demand”. The last bit is probably not true. I’ll bet there’s enough demand here in the Philippines.

* Recently, Valve has expanded to shipping to more countries, and especially some in Asia. I am sure I heard news that they are now shipping to Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong.

But of course, there are means to get around this limitation. For example, if you have family in the USA, or perhaps close friends, you can ask them to order it on your behalf. As to the Steam account for ordering, I think they don’t care as long as you pay them. Now the other matter is shipping to your home country. Not only will that cost you, but you have to make sure it’s a reliable courier.

So that’s what I did. To be sure, I had my nephew order it for me via his USA Steam account. And coincidentally I had other family who were vacationing in the USA. They hand-carried the Steam Deck for me. So all in all, shipping cost saved and perfectly safe on the trip to Philippines. I guess it took about a total of 45 days for the Steam Deck to finally fall into my hands, including the initial shipping from Valve to somewhere in the USA. If I recall correctly, it was around 1st week of December 2022 when it was brought back to the Philippines.

** I am aware that there are services that proxy for a local mailing address, so you can buy items from online stores that don’t ship to your country. Then that service in turn will ship the item to you. I think Philippines has it, but I lack the info on the names of these services and didn’t bother to look for one. In Singapore, this was already common several years ago when I was working there. I’ve tried it too when I learned about it from a co-worker. Ordered my Android LG Nexus from Japan when it came out because Singapore didn’t have it.

Steam Deck – Welcome Screen

My Games (and Wishlisted)

Prior to it’s arrival I was already adding a few more games to my Steam Library. The ones I had were already old, mostly bought from Humble Bundle several years ago. The more interesting ones I’ve already completed playing through.

Number one on my list is Monster Hunter World/Iceborne. If this was not supported on Steam Deck, I doubt I would have gotten one. Although it’s not Steam Deck Verified, it is very much Playable* on Steam Deck. I know because I’ve clocked in about 80 hours in the game now. The next gen Monster Hunter game Rise/Sunbreak is available too. I would have purchased this again if only Capcom provided cross-save functionality so I can continue the 500++ hours I have on my Nintendo Switch.

* There are four compatibility states of a game on Steam for Steam Deck. These are Verified (green), Playable (yellow), Unsupported, Unknown. Verified means full compatibility, while Playable is what the name implies, with a few minor issues. The rest are self-explanatory.

Then there’s a bunch of other games I got at discount rates during the Black Friday sale last November 2022.

  • Bayonetta
  • Darksiders Genesis
  • Divinity: Original Sin 2
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition

I held off buying more because I am fully aware I would not have enough time to play all of it… yet.

Others on my wishlist are (and these are either Steam Deck Verified or Playable),

  • Stray
  • Devil May Cry 5
  • NieR Replicant
  • Elden Ring
  • Persona 5 Royal
  • God of War
  • Tales of Arise
  • Death Stranding
  • Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen

Weird Steam Deck experiences

The Steam Deck is quite solid. I’ve used it for hours and hours without major issues. And while Valve is constantly updating and improving the Steam Deck, I still sometimes get somethingunexpected. There have been some little glitches here and there.

1) Game crashed twice the 1st time I played Monster Hunter World on multiplayer. Later multiplayer sessions were okay, and the same on solo hunts.
2) At one time Darksiders Genesis and Monster Hunter World started into black screen for no apparent reason. So did every other game I had installed. I can still exit the game normally. Just black screen on start. Fixed this with a reboot.
3) The UI got stuck in an error message screen two times, after I did something that needed Internet connection, but there was none. I could not exit out of it, no matter what. Had to reboot to get out of that screen.
4) Turned off instead after hitting Game Mode. I’m not 100% sure on this and it only happened once. Perhaps I may have hit the power button on KDE? Knowing KDE, I doubt that.
5) Input lag: touchscreen. While on Game Mode, I touched the screen to interact with the game. There was some lag in the game afterwards for several seconds. Went back to normal after.
6) Steam Deck profile loads too slow, or not at all, many times. Doesn’t happen in Steam Desktop mode. I’ve observed this a number of times. Yes, Internet is working fine.
7) Froze at lock screen. Can’t recall this happening more. Which suggests it barely does but I do know it happened at least once. Again a force reboot to save the day.

Lastly, this is the most annoying thing with the Steam Deck that I can say. The Store UI/UX could be better. Navigation with a controller is not good. I don’t know how to explain this more, but it just seems clunky for me. When I’m using it docked and hooked to a TV, controller is the way to go. There is that option to use a mouse and keyboard which makes browsing and navigating the Store a more pleasant experience.

The Dock

Steam Deck 6-in-1 Dock by Warrky

There is the official one and there are plenty out there that aren’t but compatible via the published specifications that Valve came out with.

I got the Warrky Steam Deck 6-in-1 Dock from Amazon. Cost me about USD $45 shipping included. That’s about 2,500 converted to Philippines peso. Cheaper than the official dock which sells at around $80, I believe. No issues with this Warrky dock so far.

It comes with 3x USB A ports, 1x LAN port, 1x 2.0 HDMI port. The size is about 5″ x 3″.

The power adapter cable that hooks to the Steam Deck power port up top is quite rigid. It can also be neatly tucked in when not in use. There is a provision for this on the underside of the dock. Albeit, the cable does not come off. So it’s not replaceable.

When the dock is powered up and in use, there is a LED indicator that lights up at the front on the right side of the base.

The dock looks premium, with brushed aluminum finish on the body. Feels sturdy. Not so heavy, and not too light. Has non-slip materials on the Steam Deck slot and underneath the base.

I’ve read gamers recommend that you get a different AC power adapter for the dock. Something like 60W to 100W. I did not. Using the one that came with the Steam Deck. So far I’m good with all the peripherals and external display connected using the original adapter.

Bluetooth Controller for playing on the big screen TV

8BitDo Pro 2 Bluetooth game controller

Went for the 8BitDo Pro 2 Bluetooth Controller. These are available at DataBlitz stores in the Philippines. I got this for around PHP1,850. It has a classic looking design. Inspired by the Nintendo SNES controller.

Has the usual D-pad/stick/button layout, with 2 additional back buttons. Supports vibration. Is customizable with the companion mobile app. Although I have not really had the time to play with the customization options yet.

This device has 4 modes that you can choose from. The switch is located at the back. These are the S, A, D and X input modes. S is for Nintendo Switch. A is for Android. X is for Windows/XBox. Then the D-input mode which I don’t know what it is for.

At first I was having connectivity issues with it once it was paired with the Steam Deck. If it lost connection to the Steam Deck because the latter went to Sleep or the controller just sat idle for too long, input was gone once you turn on the controller again. Steam Deck says it’s connected. The controller is powered on. But there is no input. I had to re-pair which was a hassle. I tried it on both the S-input and X-input* modes.

* Officially according to the product website page, the Steam Deck is supported using the X-input mode.

Ultimately after much tinkering (honestly I don’t know what I did right), it settled in nicely with the X-input mode. No more issues. Turn it on, and it will connect straight away with the Steam Deck. Gives you a little shake to let you know it’s ready for game time.

Oh, and the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con works on Steam Deck! Yes. Before I got this Pro 2 controller I was using Joy-Cons for playing. Just pair and play right away. You can also set to Nintendo Switch button layout in the Steam Deck’s settings.

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