The Steam Deck is confirmed to capably run Dota 2, a fact confirmed by Valve president Gabe Newell himself.
Valve co-founder and president Gabe Newell gave a rare interview with IGN during a trip to Valve headquarters in Bellevue, Washington. In it, he confirmed that Dota 2 would be playable on the Steam Deck, and not just theoretically. Newell claims to have played the competitive MOBA for his own personal beta test. Gaben has also previously told Steam users that Dota 2 is playable on Steam Deck through his personal email.
When the Steam Deck was first announced early in July, fans immediately speculated about what kind of games would be best suited for it. Slow-paced genres like card games and turn-based strategy games are the easiest options, but Valve appears to be targeting its competitive games too. Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive were expected to remain desktop-only, but Newell’s announcement hints that Valve expects a large number of Steam Deck owners to use the platform for its most popular competitive titles.
Dota 2 seems like one of the least convenient games to play on a handheld device. Dota 2’s massive number of optional hotkeys, control groups, and the need for quick reactions adds to the difficulty of playing on a typical controller. Aside from one user who played Invoker on an Xbox controller, most Dota 2 fans consider mouse and keyboard to be the only viable option.
It’s possible that Valve has come up with an entirely new control method for Dota 2 specifically for the Steam Deck. If so, it will have to be constantly maintained to keep up with mechanical changes. Valve’s virtual reality mode for Dota 2 is now completely broken due to updates. Dota 2’s recently activated lag-compensation system may be related to the Steam Deck’s release, as the device will almost always be connected through Wi-Fi.
Out of all of Valve’s games, company president Gabe Newell himself seems most interested in Dota 2. He has attended every edition of The International and is believed to play the game regularly. Former Valve employees have even claimed that Newell spends more time playing Dota 2 than seeing to any sort of work at Valve’s offices. Gaben’s favorite hero is famously Sand King, as revealed by his in-game voice pack and emails sent to fans.
Considering that the Steam Deck is just a handheld desktop computer, it certainly has the hardware and software capabilities to run Riot Games’ popular esports titles League of Legends and Valorant. However, there are a handful of issues that prevent early confirmation. The most obvious is that Steam Deck is only designed to run games through Steam. League of Legends and Valorant both use their own custom launchers made by Riot Games.
Valorant’s Vanguard anti-cheat program could also pose problems. The system requires deep access to the player’s computer, something that might not be compatible with Steam Deck’s operating system. Riot Games might have to work directly with Valve to allow their games to run on the Steam Deck. Considering that both companies are at odds in the esports and game distribution market, that is unlikely to happen.