Steam Deck Dynamic Cloud Sync eases transition from handheld to PC

Attention game developers, support this essential API.

We’re as excited to try out Valve’s Steam Deck as you are, but as the release window draws near, there are plenty of questions yet to be answered.

A familiar query from gamers is how will Steam Deck handle saved progress when moving from one device to another? In a developer post over at Steamworks, Valve has detailed a new API dubbed Dynamic Cloud Sync intended to offer seamless game-save transfers between Deck and PC.

Appreciating gamers are likely to use the Deck in a similar fashion to handhelds such as the Nintendo Switch, Valve acknowledges that “users will frequently suspend their Steam Deck without exiting the game.” In order to help maintain consistent game progress between devices, Dynamic Cloud Sync will automatically upload any modified game-save data prior to the device entering sleep.

The ability to then pick up where you left off on PC could greatly enhance the user experience, and any further progress on other devices is automatically downloaded to the Steam Deck upon wake.

That’s the theory, and it all sounds good on paper, but there are a couple of caveats. Most importantly, developers must manually enable Dynamic Cloud Sync using the newly available APIs, and doing so is not mandatory. How Steam Deck will manage save games when an Internet connection isn’t available also remains unclear.

Without the feature, Valve warns that “any user who suspends their Deck while your game is running and then tries to resume that game on a different device, will be prompted to first return to their Deck to close the running process or continue without their most recent save game progress.”

Cloud saves are an important feature in today’s multi-device ecosystems, and some manufacturers have fared better than others. Sony typically hasn’t coped well – transferring saved data from PS4 to PS5 continues to be a source of frustration – but Nintendo and Microsoft’s attention to cloud-based mobile gaming has delivered better results. We’re fully expecting Steam Deck to struggle with cross-device game saves at launch but are encouraged to see Valve addressing the issue prior to release.