Steam Deck’s Dynamic Cloud Sync streamlines switching between handheld and PC
With the Steam Deck’s February rollout bearing down, Valve are still unveiling the portable PC’s new tricks. The latest, as per a Steamworks Development blog post, is Dynamic Cloud Sync: a variation of Steam’s existing cloud save feature that ensures save files can sync between a player’s Steam Deck and PC even when the former is only suspended, rather than fully powered down.
Like the Nintendo Switch, the Steam Deck can enter a low-power sleep mode that will let you resume playing immediately upon waking up. This presents an issue to the standard Steam Cloud Sync feature we’re used to on our PCs, as that requires a game be closed completely for save files to upload to the cloud. Dynamic Cloud Sync, however, can upload those files before the Steam Deck goes to sleep, and if you go off and resume playing on your PC or laptop, the Deck can then download the updated game save when you return to it.
Sounds good to me – being able to play an existing library of Steam games is key to the Steam Deck’s appeal, and anything that makes it easier to keep consistent progress through those games will undoubtedly make the Deck a better device.
The only catch is that non-Valve developers – of which there are quite a few! – will need to manually integrate Dynamic Cloud Sync into their games, and judging from the Steamworks blog this isn’t as easy as simply flicking a switch. Steam will still track whether a game is running or suspended on the Steam Deck, but if it doesn’t support Dynamic Cloud Sync and you try to play that same game on a different device, you’ll be asked to either go close the Steam Deck instance or continue without the save game progress you made on the handheld.
Still, the bog-stand Steam Cloud Sync feature is pretty widely supported, so hopefully third parties won’t need much convincing.
Valve say the Steam Deck remains “on track” for a February launch, having previously delayed the original December release, and the first results of their ambitious Steam Deck compatibility review programme have already begun trickling out. Dynamic Cloud Sync compatibility isn’t part of the testing criteria, but the programme’s publicly visible categories – Verified, Playable, Unsupported and so on – should give potential buyers an idea of how well the Steam Deck can handle particular games.