A year like 2022 is often considered a blank year for gaming tech. We’re two years behind the latest console launch; an era dominated by peripherals and add-ons. So it’s surprising that this year is a milestone for gaming tech. This is because companies are starting to introduce new approaches to gaming technology that target both accessibility and portability. From devices built on cloud gaming to portables that fundamentally change the way PC games work, the history books can look to 2022 as the start of a revolution. Here’s what technology dares to propel the industry forward, even if it means taking an experimental risk.
Winner: Steam Deck
For some gamers, PC is the only way to play. Unlike a console, PSCs offer much more flexibility when it comes to customizing an individual game to one’s liking. However, PCs can be restrictive and require you to be connected to a desk to use expensive hardware. If you want to take your games with you on the go, you should probably invest more money in a decent gaming laptop. In the age of Nintendo Switch and cloud gaming, this lack of portability has made the PC feel less appealing as a gaming platform.
Valve fixed this issue with the Steam Deck. The super-sized device that has its own spin on the Switch is essentially a PC in a traditional portable form factor. It allows gamers to access all Steam libraries on the go, and the Linux browser also allows it to work as an emulation box. What’s particularly noteworthy, though, is that Steam Deck offers the customization that makes playing on PC so compelling. It’s not a static device like the Nintendo Switch, but one that can be changed with various settings.
There are many issues with the Steam Deck that will likely need to be fixed in a second iteration. The massive form factor leaves much to be desired, and it has a fair amount of technical glitches that can make gaming sessions frustrating. Still, growing pains like this are to be expected from a piece of experimental technology. For all its quirks, Steam Deck has fundamentally changed the way I play PC games – something no gaming tech has done since the Switch launched five years ago.
Second place: Logitech G Cloud Gaming Handheld
Despite having a very specific use case, the Logitech G Cloud Gaming Handheld is undeniably an innovative device. Designed by Logitech and Tencent Games, this is a handheld built specifically for cloud and mobile gaming. Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia GeForce Now have native apps for the system, while others like Steam Link ensure they fit anyone’s cloud gaming needs.
It’s built like a Nintendo Switch, but this handheld doesn’t have to deal with power restrictions. It has a battery life of around 12 hours, which is incredibly impressive for a handheld gaming device. The Logitech G Cloud Gaming Handheld is the first of its kind, but more to come. As cloud gaming grows in popularity, it may just be the progenitor of a new kind of gaming device.
Honorable Mention: Playdate
I’m not sure I’ve ever used a video game console as creative as Playdate. The banana yellow weirdness is the exact definition of the niche, with its weird crank control and subscription-based gaming model, but what makes it so special is its willingness to get weird. Playdate developers are forced to think small, creating GameBoy-style games that need to rethink the fundamentals of control. The limited visuals and crank control create a restraint that leads to some real innovation.
Some of my favorite video games coming out this year are Playdate games. Hyper Meteor great comeback asteroids, Choose Puppy It is one of the best pure puzzle games of the year and pallet lifter uses the crank of the system to create an ingenious elevator game. Playdate is still very enjoyable to play even the weakest games, making it feel like the world’s best indie game jam packed in a fun device that fights against the gaming industry’s desire to be bigger.