Valve could be working on a handheld Steam console called SteamPal.
The rumour arrives thanks to a set of strings found in recent Steam client updates, which were found by Pavel Djundik, creator of SteamDB.
According to Djundik, references to a ‘neptuneGamesCollection’ were first found in the September update, and more references to ‘Neptune’ (which could be the console’s codename) have been found in the latest beta client, relating to a potential controller under the title “SteamPal/NeptuneName”, and a games list called “SteamPal Games/GameList_View_NeptuneGames”.
Valve is possibly working on a handled Steam console called “SteamPal” (codename Neptune).
Beta client update added plenty of references including controller bindings, new UI strings such as quick access menu, system settings (airplane mode, wifi, bluetooth) and a power menu. https://t.co/BwDWjWWb06
— Steam Database (@SteamDB) May 25, 2021
Djundik adds that separate references to a quick access and power menu have also been found in recent updates, which could also relate to the front end of the rumoured Neptune project. The system settings mentioned in the update, including an airplane mode, seem to point to a portable machine of some kind.
The Steam Database Twitter account also pointed towards a recent interview with Valve’s president Gabe Newell. When asked about whether Steam would be bringin any of its games to console, Newell said “you will get a better idea of that by the end of this year.” While some took this to mean that Valve could port its games to existing consoles, it’s possible he was referencing the ‘SteamPal’.
Of course, as with all updates of this kind, this could represent behind-the-scenes testing for a product that never sees release (Valve has a lot of history there), or could simply be for something else entirely. This shouldn’t be taken as guarantee of a new product coming soon. We’ve contacted Valve for comment.
Newell also said back in January of this year that Valve has games in development that are waiting to be announced. Around the same time, he also spoke about what Brain-Computer Interfaces will do for gaming in the future – SteamPal probably isn’t for that… right?
Jordan Oloman is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.