This MASSIVE new update to Steam OS brings long-awaited new features. (Plus other Steam Deck news!)
This week in Steam Deck news, a MASSIVE Steam Deck OS update hits the stable channel that brings huge changes to the desktop experience and how external storage devices are handled. Plus, did Valve just silently kill their research into Brain-Computer Interfaces? All this and more in this week's Steam Deck news.
NVIDIA must be stopped
So with the last Deck news, we talked about how NVIDIA is closing down their Gamestream service. The one that lets you stream games from your PC to other devices like the NVIDIA Shield.
Well, I wanted to touch base on this again because a few notable developments have happened since then. First, there's a change.org petition that aims to change NVIDIA's mind. How effective will this petition be? I don't know, but I signed it anyway.
And second and more importantly, this comment from my last video raised a very good point. "Proman" said:
So the NVIDIA bit... its not actually legal. This sort of thing has been tested in court. Given they advertised this as a feature of their products, them removing this [from] the sold products [violates many laws], rather than not supporting it in future products [which] is allowed... Like remember Linux for the PS3? When Sony removed that feature they were sued by customers.
Therefore there's already a precedent. NVIDIA better hope no one [comes] after them. I mean I only brought one of their cards, ages ago before I switched to linux, for this easy to use and pretty reliable(at least for me) service. The fact I still use that same card. So I think more than a few people are [feeling] the same way.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. If you're an NVIDIA customer and there was a class action suit brought against NVIDIA for removing this feature, would you sign on to it? Leave me a comment below!
Steam Deck Holiday Video
In case you missed it, I released a special holiday video that I made with my girlfriend! The video is really fun and the comments have been overwhelmingly positive so, if you haven't watched it yet, take a second and check it out.
It's really cute and we had a blast making it! Emily wrote the script, too, so give her a shoutout in the comments! Plus, the details on how to enter our Steam Deck giveaway are in that video. So be sure you don't miss that!
SquareEnix loves the Steam Deck
I saw an interesting headline the other day. The title of the PC Gaming article was "Square Enix was the surprise Steam Deck champion of the year." But I disagree.
It wasn't a surprise to me at all that Square Enix showed the Steam Deck lots of love. Do you know why? It's because they've always been fairly keen on Linux. They were pretty chummy with Feral Interactive back in the day, too. Bringing games like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the Tomb Raider franchise, and many others to Linux... with NATIVE ports, mind you.
They've done this for forever.
To me, the most surprising Steam Deck supported has to be PlayStation. The fact that PlayStation has brought so many of their titles to PC has been fun to see in and of itself, but to see PlayStation executives excitedly tweeting out that their PC ports are Steam Deck verified? That's exciting.
I'd love to get your input on this, though. What developers or publishers surprised you most with their support for the Steam Deck? Leave me a comment below. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
And while you're down there, why not like that smash button? When you do, you're well on your way to see more videos just like this. You can also subscribe to the channel. We're less than 500 subscribers away from 100,000. Use the link below or the card on screen to sign up for the Steam Deck giveaway we're doing to celebrate 100k! And thanks!
Brain-computer Interfaces at Valve
Tyler McVicker says that Valve employees, Mike Gambinder, Steve Noonan, Jeff Rightman, and Dario Cassali have all departed the company. This is according to Valve's official website.
According to McVicker, Dario Cassali is one of the last few remaining employees from the formation of the company. Given his tenure at the company, this would be notable on its own.
But Mike Gambinder is, again, according to Tyler McVicker, is the only Valve employee to have ever given a public speech on Valve's research into Brain-Computer Interfaces.
Steam Deck OS 3.4 Release
Just in time for Christmas Valve dropped a new Stable Steam Deck OS update. Version 3.4 comes with one of the largest changelogs in recent memory.
So let's go over the release notes and see what new, awesome features we can expect here.
First: SteamOS has been re-based on a newer version of Arch Linux. This is great as it pulls in the latest performance, security, and stability fixes that are the foundation of SteamOS.
The most notable changes, according to their announcement post, are to desktop mode. KDE Plasma--the Steam Deck's desktop environment--include a new Overview mode to see all open windows and virtual desktops, updates to KRunner, new touchscreen gestures, new themes and wallpapers, and updates to widgets.
This change alone leapfrogs desktop mode several stable versions forward and introduces features that other Linux users have been waiting for on Deck. It's great to see here.
There's now a new option which allows Screen Tearing while playing a game. This allows the Deck to display partial frames on the screen resulting in a "tearing" effect in the image. This provides lower average latency when vsync is disabled and the frame limiter is off.
And the performance HUD level 2 was changed to use a horizontal layout which now fits in the letterbox space for games running in a 16:9 aspect ratio!
Storage saw several large updates with this release. TRIM was enabled for the internal drive as well as supported external storage devices which improve write performance. This will allow Steam to periodically TRIM the storage devices as needed and a new setting is available in Settings -> System -> Advanced that allows you to run the TRIM service immediately.
What is TRIM? It's simple: it lets the operating system tell the SSD what data has been deleted and is safe to ignore. This is important since the filesystem is usually what controls which files have been deleted or not and the SSD is usually left in the dark and will write blocks of data unnecessarily.
There's now also an eject button for removable drives. This unmounts the drive from the filesystem allowing you to safely eject the SD card or detach the USB cable without the risk of data loss.
Another HUGE feature that I've been waiting for for a long time is that External drives formatted as an ext4 Linux filesystem are now automatically mounted. This means that you can now install and play games from USB drives as long as they're properly formatted!
There's a small update with input as well. First, the DualShock 4 and the DualSense (the PlayStation 5 controller) have their trackpad mouse emulation disabled when Steam is running. This change prevents accidentally moving a cursor or activating a mouse click with the trackpad. Though I would like to see an option to enable this on a system-wide level for these controllers in the settings.
There were other small fixes for the virtual keyboard and Steam Input meant to increase compatibility with certain games and devices including the 8BitDo Ultimate Wireless controller dongle and Hori Fighting Stick alpha.
Several general fixes were introduced in this release as well. For example: they fixed an issue with sleep affecting a small number of titles that would be frozen or glitched after waking, fixes for the backlight sensor which could cause games to hitch during gameplay, fixes for Death Stranding, fixes for an issue with fan controller being polled excessively and causing sporadic issues... and new Docking Station firmware which resolves an issue with HDMI 2.0 displays wouldn't be detected during wake or bootup.
There were also some fixes for audio on the device as well.
There were two hotfixes that were issued after the initial release dropped. The first was to address a regression with how SD cards were handled. Valve's Pierre-Loup Griffais said, quote:
We've seen the feedback on the 3.4 SD card mount path breaking pre-existing non-Steam shortcuts. We'll roll back the change to USB auto-mounting from 3.4 and and defer it until 3.5 in the new year, to give software some time to adjust to the new standard path.
The other hotfix was to address an issue with HDMI/DisplayPort audio going to sleep on external displays.
Well, that's it for Steam Deck news this week! And just in time for Christmas! I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday season.