Asus Looking to Challenge Valve in the Handheld PC Gaming Market

April 11, 2023

Handheld gaming was once a broad market filled with success and competition.

Following the success of Nintendo’s Gameboy after its release in 1989, millions of shipped units and international attention would encourage many imitators.

In the console space, many others manufacturers competed over the years, with Sega and Sony seeing the best success.

Today, it’s only Nintendo that remains a successful brand making handheld console systems with their dual console/handheld Switch, but the PC space is different.

Handheld video game consoles exist in a weird space, as laptops have traditionally acted as a middle ground.

Laptops can play games, and they’re great for work and media, so they made the most progress as PC gaming systems on the go. A laptop isn’t a handheld, by its very name, so there’s always been a call for a system that went the extra step.

After decades and many attempts, it was Valve that broke through its Steam Deck in early 2022. Asus is looking to challenge the limitations of this system with a release of its own, which could signal a new arms race in the handheld gaming ecosystem.

Valve’s Success

Valve has a complicated history with PCs and gaming.

The company runs the digital distribution system Steam, which long held an almost monopolistic grasp on the online PC gaming market. Companies like Epic have made strides with their distribution platforms, but Steam continues to dominate.

With its reticence to fix long-standing problems, the efforts have drawn ire from both players and developers.

Problems also exist in the hardware space for Valve, with projects such as the Steam Controller and Steam Link being touted as great things, before being summarily shut down.

A track record full of bumps made users hesitant to rush into the Steam deck, a project that set its sights as high as Valve ever has. It just so happens that, this time, Valve hit its mark.

The Steam Deck arrived at strong reviews, where it was labeled as a surprisingly powerful portable gaming PC. More than that, the Steam Deck found a place where our technological reach in handheld PC gaming had finally met our grasp.

No longer were PC offerings on handhelds crippled by poor performance, with the Steam Deck able to run many titles at decent frame rates while still looking good.

This was helped by the launch of the mega-hit Elden Ring at around the same time, which was able to perform well on Valve’s hardware. In basic terms, this was the real game changer, and like the Game Boy before it, it’s inspired a slew of imitators.

Asus’s Alternative

Asus’ ROG Ally isn’t the first to try for the growing mobile PC gaming market crown, but it could be the most impressive.

Official specs are still under wraps, but what we do know from the company’s notes and early testing from websites like Linus Tech Tips is that it features capable components.

Offering an AMD Zen 4/RDNA 3 chip, a 120 Hz display, and 1920×1080 output, Asus claims that the system will be roughly twice as fast as the Steam Deck. Having looked at early tests, we’re willing to believe that this is no joke.

The kicker here is that, with all this extra horsepower, the ROG Ally will not be cheap. This machine will probably fall at around twice that of the most expensive Steam Deck system, which costs $649.

In this way, the Ally seems more poised as the new standard for a premium option, for gamers who don’t mind shelling out to get the most possible from their mobile gaming experience.

With the inclusion of the Windows 11 operating system over the Steam Deck’s Linux, the Ally holds far more user-friendly potential in flexibility too.

The Flexibility of Windows in the Ally

Linux is technically a more flexible operating system than Windows, but for most users, it’s also considerably more complicated, and less well-supported. By being based on Windows, the Ally could also be far better suited to other forms of entertainment, and even work use when docked.

Windows offers fantastic browser support, for example, so the Ally would be a great fit for browser systems like online casinos and betting. For example, navigating sports betting sites and placing wagers would be simple on the Ally.

From visiting, websites like BetVictor and Pribet to claiming welcome offers, watching live streams, and even transferring sharing accounts over mobile phones and the Ally would be easy.

With the addition of better browser addon functionality, the Ally could even streamline navigation and safety features beyond what mobiles can.

When docked, the Ally could be just as useful for work. Software installed locally would run without issue, and cloud programs like Office 365 would similarly operate just as well as on the best traditional platforms.

A large screen used for output could also make a great fit for watching movies on a big screen or opening the system up to improved multiplayer gaming support. Again, these are all possibilities on the Steam Deck, they’re just nowhere near as easy.

Leaks have placed the likely release window for the Ally in October of 2023. While that’s some time away, there might not be any rush.

Valve has noted that while they will eventually release a successor to the Steam Deck, this likely wouldn’t be for a few years.

In that timeframe, the Ally has time to work out its kinks, hit shelves, and see if there truly is a market for premium systems. If it succeeds, a new level of competition and options could open up.

If it doesn’t, gamers and developers will at least get some indication of what way the wind is blowing.

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