The Steam Deck Pre-Orders Were, Unsurprisingly, a Fiasco

Yesterday, Valve surprised everyone with the announcement of the Steam Deck, a Switch-esque portable gaming device that basically doubles as a gaming PC that you can take on the go. It gives gamers access to their entire Steam library, can connect to external keyboards, mouse, and monitors, and can download and install third-party software, meaning you could even have Game Pass or the Epic Games Store on it as well if you’d like. All for prices ranging from $399 to $649, depending on how much initial storage space one desires, with pre-orders beginning today. The Steam Deck quickly and unsurprisingly became a desirable piece of hardware, and given the the difficulties in obtaining hardware such as a PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X or a 3080 graphics card, you might think that Valve would obviously try and make sure that the process of pre-ordering one went as smooth as possible. You would be very wrong.

The pre-orders kicked off at 10 AM PST, and while some lucky individuals were able to get a their deposits down in the first few seconds or minutes, things quickly went downhill. Users were constantly hit with a barrage of error messages when trying to check out, beginning with “There seems to have been an error initializing or updating your transaction. Please wait a minute and try again or contact support for assistance.” The problem is that nearly everyone here couldn’t afford to wait a minute, as the order in which people completed their deposit determines when in December they can actually get an invite to complete the purchase, and thus when they can actually receive their Steam Deck.

And then it got worse, as folks were getting messages saying “It looks like you’ve been attempting a lot of purchases in the past few hours. Please wait a while before trying again.” This led many to believe they were locked out for a while, despite only trying to complete ONE purchase, instead of many. And then it somehow took an ever bigger dive. As part of an attempt to block bots and scalpers, Valve stated that only accounts which have made a purchase prior to June 2021 would be able to pre-order the Steam Deck today. So imagine the looks on several Steam users’ faces with accounts that are several years old — over a decade old, in some cases — attempting to purchase one and after a while, receiving a message saying “Your account is too new to reserve early. Reservation will open for you on Sunday July 18th, 10 AM PDT.”

While some of those people were still able to complete their pre-orders after refreshing for a while, the fact that these error messages were even showing for these people is ludicrous, and some may even be locked out for now. In fact, this writer even spoke with someone who wasn’t even trying to pre-order a Steam Deck — they just wanted to take a look — and were immediately met with the above message, despite having an account that’s over seventeen years old. “I wanted to see if I could. I have successfully bought the PS5 and Xbox through tenacious means and I thought it’d be funny. But if you look at my profile it is indeed 17 years old and I can’t order until the 18th.”

Needless to say, the Steam Deck pre-orders have been an utter debacle, made even worse due to a lack of any official response from Valve yet about the issues, despite the rather glaring errors. While things do seem to be calming down after a while, several folks were left with the impression that they couldn’t even pre-order one of the devices for several hours or days. As for my own personal experience, I was finally able to complete my own pre-order after forty-eight minutes; one minute or less to add it to my cart, forty-two minutes of error messages, and finally, a five-minute wait to actually process the order after finally making it through.

While the Steam Deck holds a lot of promise, it’s disappointing that not only have companies like Valve still not figured out a way to allow for efficient pre-orders, especially given the events of last year, but that the process here had so many blatant and even misleading errors. Even worse, it didn’t really do much to stop resellers, as pre-ordered Steam Decks are, naturally, already going for several thousands of dollars on eBay. Today has been an disaster for anyone attempting to get a Steam Deck, even for those who have succeeded, and we dare to see what the actual rollout and deliveries are like.