After delaying the Steam Deck’s launch to a vague “February 2022” window, Valve has returned to keep its promise. Today, the company confirmed the date its portable, gaming-centric PC will begin shipping to some preorder customers.
Valve listed two key dates in its Wednesday announcement. Firstly, the Steam Deck will begin shipping on February 28 to customers who got their $5 preorder payments in at the earliest possible moment, i.e., the first few minutes after the clock struck 1 pm EST on July 16.
Customers have a chance of being part of this shipment window if their order has an official Steam shipping estimate of “Q1 2022”; you can check your estimate by loading the Deck store page while logged into Steam.
“Launching” on February 25 (but not really)
But there’s another crucial date for Steam Deck preorder customers to keep in mind: February 25. That’s when Valve will send emails to an unconfirmed number of preorder customers requesting that they pay the rest of the console’s asking price. That figure ranges from $399 for the 64GB model to $649 for the 512GB model.
Valve’s announcement says that these email alerts—which essentially ask preorder customers to pay the rest of their tab—will land at 1 pm EST on that Friday afternoon. The notifications, Valve says, will be sent out in the order that successful preorders were made. Customers who receive the alerts have exactly 72 hours to pay, and if they miss the window, their reserved console will move down the list to the next batch of customers.
The announcement also mentions that Valve will operate its Deck preorder payment requests on a “weekly cadence.” This suggests that the full gamut of “Q1 2022” preorders will be broken up between February 25 and the end of March. In other words, if you didn’t place your Deck preorder within the first 45 seconds of the floodgates opening on July 16, you might have to wait a week or four.
Valve’s post doesn’t clarify whether quicker preorder payments will change the order in which these systems are shipped. But based on the language used in the announcement, it sounds like users won’t need to hover over their inboxes on that Friday to be part of the first shipping wave on February 28. Just, you know, maybe don’t pick that weekend to unplug from the Internet.
One way to check the Deck
Preorder customers will have a reason to wait a few hours before pulling the payment trigger. Valve has confirmed that Deck systems are being mailed to members of the press “shortly,” and the systems have a review embargo of February 25.
This review date will follow Valve’s tease of “preview coverage and impressions before that” date. If Ars’ experience reviewing the Valve Index virtual reality system is any indication, fans might expect to see a specific system feature broken out into a preview article, much like how we posted about “living with Valve Index as a work monitor for a week” before the product’s formal June 2019 launch.
Relatedly, the comments section of this article would be a great place to request specific tests and benchmarks or remarks on touchpads, the cloud-sync system, emulation front-ends, OS installations, game compatibility, and other things that Ars Technica might apply to a Steam Deck review, should Ars indeed be among the members of the press invited to the Deck’s upcoming review period. (As the first reporter to confirm Steam Deck’s existence, I’ve already been dreaming up coverage plans in the case of such a review opportunity.)