Valve is reportedly readying to enter the hardware market once more, this time with a new "Switch-like" handheld gaming PC that could potentially launch by the end of the year.
That's according to a report by Ars Technica, which expands on the recent discovery of a new hardware-related code - referring to a mysterious device known as "SteamPal" - in the latest version of Steam. Citing "multiple sources familiar with the matter", Ars Technica claims this device (whose final name remains unconfirmed) is a new Valve-developed all-in-one portable gaming PC that features gamepad controls and a touchscreen in a similar form factor to Nintendo's Switch, albeit without detachable controllers.
SteamPal, or whatever it ends up being called (obviously, not calling it the Gabe Boy would be a serious missed opportunity), is reportedly designed to run a large number of games on the Steam PC platform via Linux, and can "dock" to a monitor via its USB Type-C port.
Ars Technica says Valve's handheld is still in the prototype stage, with features subject to change. However, it'll likely include a system on a chip from Intel or AMD, and at least one prototype, said to be "quite wide" compared to Switch, sports "a standard array of gamepad buttons and triggers, along with a pair of joysticks and at least one thumb-sized touchpad".
There's no word on potential price point yet - and no indication whether Valve intends to position its rumoured handheld as a Switch competitor or as a more costly but more powerful portable alternative - and Ars Technica says the year-end launch touted by its sources may yet be stymied if supply chain issues arise.
Intriguingly, as Ars Technica notes, Valve's Gabe Newell recently responded to a question about the company's games coming to consoles during a panel conversation at a New Zealand school, cryptically telling attendees, "You will get a better idea of that by the end of this year... and it won't be the answer you expect."
Could this be the first official tease for the Valvendo Gabe Boy? Time (and also Valve) will tell.