Valve Gets ‘Right To Repair/Mod’ Right With The Steam Deck
from the deck-the-halls dept
We’ve talked a great deal about the public’s right to repair the tech they own and how right to repair has finally started to shift in favor of the consumer as of late. In tech in general, and specifically in the video gaming hardware space, manufacturers have long fought to make it impossible for the public to repair their own gear. Or mod that gear, as well. And this isn’t just a Nintendo thing, though that’s likely the first name that leapt into your mind. Sony, Microsoft, ASUS, and HTC all lobbied heavily to prevent DIY repairs or mods.
But then there’s Valve and its new handheld device, the Steam Deck. Valve appears to have gone completely the opposite way, both in making the Steam Deck very easy to get into to begin with, but also allowing some major names out there to sell repair parts or upgrades directly to the public.
As reported by The Verge over the weekend, the legendary repair advocates over at iFixit.com plan to offer essentially every part of the Steam Deck for sale, including the motherboard with its custom AMD chip. While word of this was undoubtedly exciting for Steam Deck fans, iFixit took to Twitter to state that the news was a little bit premature and that a full reveal of its replacement parts offerings is yet to come.
As Kotaku notes, to get the full scope of what it means to have a company like iFixit saying it’s working directly with Valve on repair and mod parts, you have to couple that with Valve’s forward-thinking approach to the schematics of its Steam Deck design. By that I mean to point out that Valve simply released the design files for the handheld console via a Creative Commons license.
When you combine this with the fact that Valve—much as it did for its now-departed Steam Controller (RIP, my darling)—has made the CAD files for the Steam Deck available under a Creative Commons license, and designed the machine to be remarkably modular in comparison to other controllers and portables, it’s hard not to be impressed and inspired by the potential for this machine to become a gold standard for user repairability in the video game space.
Here we see yet another example of a company being willing to give up just a bit of control over its product in order to make it far more attractive to many more potential buyers. Not only do buyers of a Steam Deck now know that they can get their devices repaired if something goes wrong or if normal wear and tear result in issues, but suddenly there is also a wide open world of potential 3rd party methods for enhancing the product.
Beyond repairability, access to CAD files has inspired fan-made solutions to accessories Valve has yet to make itself. A trip through Thingiverse will reveal all kinds of stands, docks, and battery holders designed by gamers with an eye for engineering and access to a 3D printer.
It’s hard to see how any of this does anything beyond making the Steam Deck either a more valuable purchase for the end customer, or at least a safer one. Either way, that should result in only a greater willingness to throw money in Valve’s direction for the handheld. All because Valve decided to give up a bit of control. Funny how that works.