Valve’s Dynamic Cloud Sync Delivers Unprecedented Flexibility for Steam Deck, PC Gamers

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As Valve’s Steam Deck creeps closer to launch the company is unveiling more of the device’s features and capabilities. One of those features is Dynamic Cloud Sync (DCS) and it sounds like an improvement over the current save system.

Dynamic Cloud Sync allows players to start gaming on the Steam Deck and then seamlessly move to PC. Valve anticipates that players will regularly stop a Steam Deck session without quitting the game first. Currently, Valve synchronizes save game files after you quit a title. With DCS, games will synchronize before the device goes to sleep.

Valve claims the feature works even after you’ve played a game on PC. When you pick the Steam Deck back up, the device will synchronize save files and restore your latest game.

Developer Support Required

DCS will not be supported by default in current Steam applications. Valve offers two APIs for managing remote saves — ISteamRemoteStorage and AutoCloud. Both are supported in Direct Cloud Sync, but developers will have to update their applications to use the feature.

Steam deck. Image by Valve.

Games without DCS won’t be handled the same way. If you pause a game on Steam Deck without DCS and attempt to pick it up on PC you’ll be prompted to either shut the game down or continue without your most recent saved game. This is similar to how Steam games are handled on PC today.

Developer interest in adding Dynamic Cloud Sync to support Steam Deck for already-shipping titles is unclear. At least some Valve games will likely support the feature. Future titles that release on Steam will also likely support DCS. Much depends on how popular the Steam Deck is in the first place. Valve has not released figures for Steam Deck preorders, but consumers were quite interested when the device debuted.

Unlike Nintendo, Valve won’t charge a fee for using Dynamic Cloud Sync. The ability to backup game progress should never have been a paid feature. Treating it that way never hurt the Switch’s success, but robust savegame capabilities are part of PC gaming’s ancestral heritage.

Steam Deck shipments should begin in February, 2022. The device’s technical specs suggest it will offer better x86 handheld performance than previous hardware. The device uses a Ryzen APU with a 4C/8T Zen 2 CPU at 2.4GHz – 3.5GHz and a 512-core RDNA2-based GPU at 1.0 – 1.6GHz.

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