Valve’s Steam Deck set the internet on fire when it was announced in July — but you could only hear a low moan from disappointed Australians. But if you want to roll the dice with Valve’s handheld console and international shipping, here’s how you can go about preordering a Steam Deck in Australia.
Remember, the Steam Deck isn’t technically available in Australia. When you go to the reservations page, you’ll find a lovely message stating the console isn’t available in your region and you won’t be able to place a preorder. But if you’re using a VPN, you should be able to remove those nasty barriers.
Here’s how to preorder the Steam Deck from Australia if you’re really keen to get your hands on a device.
How to preorder the Steam Deck if you live in Australia
The first thing you’ll need to place a Steam Deck preorder within Australia is a VPN. While the preorder page does show up without one, you won’t be able to place an order locally until the Steam page recognises you’re in an eligible location.
According to testing by Streaming Rant and How To Watch, the best VPN services for accessing overseas content in Australia are: NordVPN, Surfshark, PureVPN and ExpressVPN. They each costs between $4 and $12 a month (or less for a yearly subscription) and you’ll be able to use them to access other services as well, including the hearty library of American Netflix.
If you’ve never used a VPN before, it’ll basically ‘trick’ websites into believing your device is located anywhere in the world you choose.
Select an American VPN location, and the Steam Deck preorder page should unlock for you. You might also have to update the home country of your Steam account to the United States, like Aussies had to do when they wanted to get the Valve Index early. (Steam has a FAQ on how to change your home country here.)
When your update the account, Steam will ask you for an address from your account’s new country — which you’ll get from the next step.
Because the Steam Deck still only ships to the United States, Canada, the European Union and the United Kingdom, you can’t ship your console directly to Australia. Instead, you’ll want to send it to a friend in one these locations or use a mail forwarding service like ShopMate or Shipito.
These services allow you to purchase goods and send them to a provided overseas address, where they’ll be shipped directly to you. ShopMate will give you a US-based address, and that’s what you’ll want to put into Steam when updating your home country.
You’ll also need a local payment service for the United States, too. The best option, as called out by Kotaku Australia readers, is a US prepaid card provider. US Unlocked is one service you can use, but note you’ll have to cop additional fees upon setting up. You may also need a US-based phone number too for registration. OpenPhone is a good option that you can link into your existing devices, as is MightyCall. Both have trial periods you can use, although you will have to pay if you want to keep the phone number active until you get your Steam Deck.
Major factors to consider when importing the Steam Deck
There’s a couple of unknowns about the Steam Deck you should familiarise yourself with before you run off to grab one. Namely, you need to consider the power issues you may run into, as well as compatibility issues with your Steam account.
Power adaptors and voltage
The first issue you’ll run into with ordering a Steam Deck from the U.S. is your charger will likely be a a two-pronged North American power cord, rather than a local Aussie one. A converter will be needed for a quick fix — but it’s not as simple as grabbing any old one off eBay.
Australian power outlets are designed to deliver 230 volts of energy, while U.S. outlets deliver just 120 volts. Using a basic converter with your U.S. Steam Deck could overload and overheat your console, an outcome you’ll definitely want to avoid. You’ll have to purchase a voltage converter to be on the safe side, but it will add bulk to your charging set-up.
In better news, the Steam Deck does appear to have an alternative USB-C option for charging — and while we haven’t seen exactly how this’ll work, it should be an easy plug-and-play fit. We’ll have to stay tuned to the console’s release to know more about how the charging will actually work, and whether the U.S. power plug system will actually be a challenge.
Another thing you’ll need to consider is your imported Steam Deck will likely run on the U.S. version of the Steam store. So if you want to buy anything from the Steam store, you’ll need a payment method that works in the United States. Steam, however, says you can update your store country multiple times “as long as you use a payment method that matches your Steam country setting” — so you’ll have to follow the steps above if you want to buy games in Aussie dollars.
It pales in comparison to the power issue but it’s something you should still think about.
When can you actually order the Steam Deck in Australia?
If all that seems a bit too much, there is better news on the horizon.
While Australia was not included in the initial preorder phase for the Steam Deck, the console will eventually be available in other territories.
“Information about expanded regional availability coming soon,” is what the Steam Deck hub states now, although at one point it did indicate preorders would be available for other regions in 2022.
We don’t have an expected release date or pricing yet — and Australia hasn’t specifically been named on the preorder hub, but given we are expecting the Valve Index to drop locally in August we know Valve is aware of Australia at the very least. It’s arriving two years later than it released in other territories, but we are getting it.
We still don’t know whether we’re getting the Steam Deck or if it’ll arrive any time soon. But staying patient is currently your safest bet, especially if you run into warranty issues.
Still, if you’re happy to take a risk there’s plenty of ways to grab one early.
This post has been updated with additional information and tips, including which VPNs are best for accessing overseas content.