Steam Deck needs a poster child before it can compete with the Nintendo Switch
Valve’s gaming platform, Steam, is used by gamers around the world. Since its release in 2003, Steam has become one of the most dominant platforms for PC gamers to purchase, download, and play their favorite games. Having become synonymous with giant sales and endless offers, the platform is appreciated. Although Steam has seen fierce competition from the Epic Games Store, Steam remains the gold standard for so many. However, Valve has recently attempted to break into the laptop market with the new steam bridgewhich has been an exciting thought for so many people wanting to take their Steam libraries on the go.
By offering something new to PC gamers, Valve has inadvertently entered the crosshairs of one of the biggest names in gaming. The Nintendo Switch is a hit, and its sales have soared. It’s aimed at a wide audience, and in its five years on the market, the list of available titles is as impressive as it is eclectic. With the Steam Deck, Valve is giving players access to their already purchased games, but without a child poster like Mario for Nintendo, or Aloy for PlayStation, one of the key ingredients to the success of the Switch console will still be missing.
The iconic characters of the Nintendo Switch
Nintendo has built an entire gaming empire out of Mario’s stellar offerings. From the 1985 classic Super Mario Bros.for Super Mario Odyssey, one of the best 3D platformers on Switch, it’s been the standard bearer for all things Nintendo. Of course, link of The Legend of Zeldaand Samus of the superb metroid series, among many others, are also essential to the success of the company. With all the promotional material always seeming to put Mario front and center, it’s safe to say he’s the company’s biggest character. It may be the vehicle for much of Nintendo’s marketing, being used to introduce new hardware to the masses.
Steam, on the other hand, is a platform for gamers to build their own personal library of games, with many titles available on other hardware, so it’s unlikely that two gamers will have a similar collection. There isn’t a single character that defines the platform like there is for other companies, and in the console space it’s so important to have a character to build around. Aloy’s recent feature on a recent Vanity Fair cover could have a significant impact on the PlayStation 5’s success with casual audiences, and with Steam Deck’s focus on more hardcore gamers, its marketing isn’t don’t quite have that luxury.
Steam Deck may turn off casual audiences
Despite a player base of over 120 million users, Steam is a platform that largely caters to more dedicated gamers. Many offerings even require a suitable machine to run, and given the high prices of these PC parts, a more ill-equipped audience is struggling to find a place in the Steam ecosystem.
Comparing this to Nintendo, it becomes apparent that there is a difference in philosophy, as Nintendo has always found success with more casual gamers and families. Reaching more passive gamers requires marketing that responds to their understanding of what games are and can be. Pushing sales with impressive specs and fancy new hardware advancements doesn’t appeal to a significant portion of potential consumers.
Having a poster child that can accommodate casual players is an effective way to make the system welcoming. From Mario’s signature smile to Link’s signature outfit, the Switch has been the go-to system for gamers everywhere, becoming a must-have handheld. Mind-blowing with info on frame rates, load times, and more. will not appeal to those who want to spend time on their morning commute tending to an island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, or throw it on the course by Mario Golf: Super Rush.
If the Steam Deck is to compete with Nintendo’s superb handheld hybrid, it will need to embrace more passive players, and creating an exclusive character to use on the side of the box can go a long way toward achieving such a feat.
The Nintendo Switch is half a decade ahead of the Steam Deck, and during that time it’s amassed sales that’s eclipsed even the Wii, but it’s done so because of the stellar first-party offerings that have been published on the system. Games like this always seem to feature memorable characters, which serve as a perfect tool for publicity in the years following the release of the hardware. Steam is a marketplace, and Valve has been sparse in the games it has developed or released in recent years. The new Steam Deck is at a distinct disadvantage to the Nintendo Switch, which can prove costly as the new portable/PC system finds its way.
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