Valve's upcoming Steam Deck console/PC hybrid starts shipping out to customers in December of 2021. Though, since it went up for pre-order, estimated delivery dates have stretched far into 2022, leaving many to wonder if and when they might be able to pick up a Deck. In this article, we'll explain if there are other avenues for purchasing a Deck, like in stores, outside of ordering a Deck directly from Valve.
The short answer here is no: Steam Deck isn't currently being sold in stores. Though you can find Steam Deck pre-orders, and inevitably the actual Decks themselves when they start shipping, on eBay for way, way more than the asking price courtesy of the 2020s tech scalpers.
However, Valve went on record with the sale of the Deck as trying to combat scalpers as best they could by restricting avenues for purchase as much as possible to allow the most customers possible to order Decks, rather than fewer customers ordering tons of Deck to sell for a profit later.
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Pre-orders for Deck went smoother than they did for PS5s, Xbox Series Xs, and for the latest NVIDIA 3000-series GPUs, but many were unable to secure a Deck. And many more were able to pre-order a Deck but were given estimated ship dates that ranged far past the initial December 2020 launch.
When Decks are no longer in short supply, it's much more likely we'll see Decks sold in Gamestops or at BestBuys or other similar retailers. Plus, if other manufacturers start producing Decks of their own, which Valve does support, there's also a fair chance these products will be sold in more than one place.
Ultimately, though, the biggest deciding factor in whether or not we'll be able to find Steam Deck's in stores, beyond supply issues, will be the device's level of success. If tons of people want to buy Decks, Valve will want to make Decks easier than ever to purchase.
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While the Deck looks promising, offering much more powerful hardware than its competitors for a reasonable asking price, Valve hasn't had much success producing hardware in the past. This was true for the Steam Controller and the Steam Link, but Valve's Index has seen much more success than the company's earliest forays into the hardware market.
If you're looking for a Steam Deck today, or for by launch, you're not going to be able to line up outside retailers to snag a Deck that wasn't sealed away specifically for pre-orders. Even through Steam's site, ordering a Deck won't get it to you anytime soon. Decks themselves won't be widely available until sometime in 2022, at the earliest, so don't expect to see Decks on store shelves anytime soon