Steam client update code points to possible handheld console in the works Steam Link

Valve's latest Steam client beta has pointed towards the possibility of a future hardware release, with suggestions that it's going to be a handheld console.

SteamDB creator Pavel Djundik tweeted about another appearance of a project codenamed Neptune. The name made its first appearance back in September, but this update coupled it with references to "SteamPal" and "SteamPal Games" (thanks, VGC). Djundik also pointed out references to a quick access menu and a power menu. There are also strings relating to a low battery notification, Bluetooth and airplane toggles, and the options to restart, shut down, and suspend…something.

Djundik says he reckons all the strings found in the update relate to Neptune, coming to the conclusion that Valve could potentially be making a handheld Steam console. It's not a far-fetched suggestion either, especially taking into account that a decent amount of the strings relate to things you'd often find on a handheld device.

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It all lines up pretty neatly with Gabe Newell's strange sockless chat at a New Zealand high school earlier this month, too. When a student at Sancta Maria College asked Newell if Steam games would ever come to console, he responded "you will get a better idea of that by the end of this year, and it won't be the answer you would expect."

I'd definitely plonk 'a handheld Steam console' in the 'things we wouldn't expect' category, so it's for sure a possibility. Though of course, some lines of code aren't definitive proof of anything happening, and at this point it's all speculation. It wouldn't be the first time Valve dabbled in hardware, though, having previously released the Steam Link, Valve Index VR headset, Steam Controller, and the short-lived Steam Machine.