Rumours have been circling that Valve has been working on a new Nintendo Switch-like handheld console, designed to run games via its Steam platform and due for release later this year.
The rumour fire was first sparked by a change in Steam's code spotted by SteamDB creator Pavel Djundik, noting several references to a device named 'SteamPal'. These rumours gained more credence thanks to a report from tech hardware site Ars Technica, who cite multiple sources as confiming such a device is indeed in development at the company responsible for Half-Life, Left 4 Dead and Portal.
While the 'SteamPal' name is thought to be a placeholder, Ars Technica's sources claim the new device will run Steam games via a bespoke version of Linux, and hardware-wise will be wider than a Nintendo Switch in order to accomodate various control options. These will include an "array of gamepad buttons and triggers, along with a pair of joysticks and at least one thumb sized touchpad" as well as a touch sensitive screen.
It's also said that the console will feature an option to "dock" to larger displays via its USB port, similar to how the Nintendo Switch's non-Lite model can be docked to a television. The device is currently in the protoype stage, they claim, with Valve looking towards a release depending on several factors—particularly the current worldwide struggles with obtaining computer components in order to make the hardware—later this year.
Though Valve are yet to confirm the console's existence, the company's co-founder Gabe Newell was reported last week as alluding to Steam making some sort of move into the console space during a Q&A at a New Zealand school. Whether this project is true and indeed what he was referring to, we'll have to wait and see.