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Valve may be developing a Nintendo Switch competitor — 'SteamPal' in the works

(Image credit: Valve Corporation)

Valve is expected to be working on a new handheld console to rival the Nintendo Switch, as Steam's latest client beta revealed references to a new project called "SteamPal."

In the beta notes, Valve makes references to its rumored project "Neptune" controller and hints that the "NeptuneName" will be called "SteamPal." What's more, there also appears to be a games list in the works for the expected hardware. 

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Spotted by SteamDB (SteamDatabase) creator Pavel Djundik (via Windows Central), the GitHub shows clear signs that Valve may be developing a handheld Steam console, with the update also hinting at a "quick access menu" and a "power menu" coming to the SteamPal project.

Along with this, the SteamDatabase GitHub also shows a line of code stating "GameList_View_NeptuneGames: "SteamPal Games." This indicated there might be specific games coming to the SteamPal's library. There's reason to believe there could be console exclusives akin to the Nintendo Switch in development, but it could also be games on Steam coming to the portable console. 

Valve's handheld gaming console 

This isn't the first we've heard of Valve working on a new piece of hardware. According to a report from Ars Technica, sources indicate that Valve has been working on a "Switch-like portable" for years. Along with this, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell teased that the company is working on something new.

As found on Reddit, Newell responded to a question about bringing Steam games to consoles, stating fans will get a "better idea of that by the end of this year." He also added that it wouldn't be what we expect. Well, we now all expect a portable Steam console.

Valve is no stranger to making new hardware, introducing its powerful VR headset, the Valve Index. While nothing is set in stone, we could see Valve try to take on the portable handheld market, too.

That said, if the alleged SteamPal does come out by the end of this year, it will see some major competition from the new OLED Nintendo Switch expected to release later in 2021.