This mysterious project Valve have been working on has cropped up before under the name of Project Nepture, but this time around in the latest Steam client beta update it looks to have been given a real name.
Tracked by SteamDB, the strings “NeptuneName: ‘SteamPal’,” and “GameList_View_NeptuneGames: ‘SteamPal Games’,” are the most concrete evidence that something new is one the way, and SteamDB creator Pavel Djundik suspects that it might just be a handheld console.
There’s further evidence to corroborate this included in the update, with plenty of new strings related to quick access menu’s cropping up and revealing potential features. Most interesting is “QuickAccess_Tab_Notifications_BatteryLow_Label: ‘battery low’,” which shows that whatever they’re working on, it’ll have some portable component.
It’s believed that Project Neptune might also include a controller, potentially linking over Bluetooth since that’s also mentioned in the strings of this update, though it’s possible the SteamPal might just require a third-party Bluetooth controller.
It’s safe to say that a potential competitor to the Switch from Valve is not something we were expecting, but with a string about “airplane mode” in the update, we’re bafflingly convinced that they might be diving into the handheld market.
Valve's "Neptune" controller shows up in latest Steam client beta again.
It's named "SteamPal" (NeptuneName) and it has a "SteamPal Games" (GameList_View_NeptuneGames)
— Pavel Djundik (@thexpaw) May 25, 2021
Valve’s CEO Gabe Newell might have already teased the SteamPal when talking to Sancta Maria College students during a visit. When asked if Steam would be appearing on consoles during a talk, Newell responded saying, “you will get a better idea of that by the end of this year… and it won’t be the answer you expect.”