You can sign up to get a daily email of our articles, see the Mailing List page!

Clearing up what games will and won't run on the Steam Deck

By - | Views: 25,096

There seems to be some confusion brewing on what games will actually run on the Steam Deck, so let this serve as a reminder on keeping expectations in check. Here's a quick refresher of how things are right now.

Some of the confusion seems to appear from an IGN interview, where Valve developer Pierre-Loup Griffais mentioned how "we haven't really found something that we could throw at this device that it couldn't handle" that we covered before. Here's the thing though: even though the Steam Deck will ship by default with the Arch Linux based SteamOS 3, they have also been testing Windows 10 and they've been working with AMD to get it supported on Windows 11 too. So speaking from a hardware standpoint, yes it probably will work with the vast majority of games on a performance level.

For regular readers and regular Linux gamers, knowing that the Steam Deck won't run everything is a given and this won't be news but there's plenty of people out there seemingly expecting a bit too much from it. Part of the problem though is Valve's marketing too, with it repeatedly mentioning your entire Steam library. They obviously want every game to work but that's simply not going to be the reality - at least not for a while.

For people who stick with SteamOS 3 this is where it doesn't quite match up. There's a good number of native Linux games (those actually built for Linux) and for everything else there's Steam Play Proton to run Windows games. A big majority of games work on Linux already between native and Proton but there's caveats.

Currently, Proton does not work with games that have the likes of Easy Anti-Cheat and BattlEye which is used in some of the most popular online titles. When it comes to EAC and BattlEye, we do know that Valve are working on it as they said in the developer documentation FAQ that they're "working with BattlEye and EAC to get support for Proton ahead of launch".

Another issue is Microsoft Media Foundation for videos, it's something of a nuisance and they don't play in Proton either. Currently Valve appear to be re-encoding the videos into a playable format which downloads with your game when run through Proton. That's a lot of work though too, there's a lot of games on Steam.

Then there's certain DRM too. Valve's older CEG (custom executable-generation) DRM also doesn't work in Proton, and there's no doubt a few other DRM/anti-tamper solutions that also don't work with Proton. Launchers can be a problem too, with some developers using .NET / Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). For launchers Valve recommends that developers use something cross-platform and standalone like Qt or just skip launchers completely, which would be vastly better for gamepad/controller support too.

Compatibility will improve over time though as more developers hopefully look to support it directly and as Proton continues maturing. So even if your favourite or the latest AAA doesn't work right away, it might do later. There's still plenty of time until the Steam Deck releases and Valve has opened up requests for developer kits too. Valve also stated in their Steamworks video how "our goal is for every game to work by the time we ship Steam Deck" and that "there is a lot of work that has been done that doesn't yet affect the public version of Proton" so we are expecting the situation to improve. Until we see this special Proton release though, this article sums up the current situation.

If you're looking to try out Linux gaming and you're confused with Proton, be sure to check out our guide.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
34 Likes
We do often include affiliate links to earn us some pennies. We are currently affiliated with GOG and Humble Store. See more here.
About the author -
author picture
I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly.
See more from me
81 comments
Page: 1/9»
  Go to:

0aTT 8 Sep
Based on the installed TP module, the AC problem can be solved very effectively. The same applies to elaborate DRM and anti-tampering. For Media Foundation Microsoft licenses others, so why not Valve? There are other licenses that Valve needs to buy.

Just because they use their own operating system does not mean complete license freedom. They will try to reduce licenses for which they have to pay. But if the Media Foundation content doesn't run (for example), that's not an alternative, it would be a serious flaw. Games like Soul Calibur VI would not run reasonably. Valve can't do that.

SteamOS 3.0 is no longer open source. I think we should lower our expectations of what of it will run in normal Proton and on normal Linux distributions. Steam itself is not open software. Maybe many of us don't want TPM-based AC on their desktops?

Just my 2 cents.


Last edited by 0aTT on 8 September 2021 at 10:25 am UTC
Honestly, I expect it to work with everything. Valve has advertised that it works with everything... All my games should run on SteamOS. I can even install other launchers. That's what they told me. So that's what I expect.

I have had pretty good experiences with Lutris and Valve's Proton over the past couple of years, and my computer is way less powerful than the SteamDeck (That is sad to say :P), so I already know from experience that the majority of games will work fine. The only games I've ever had an issue with were anti-cheat games, and GTAV. And the problem with GTAV is because my computer isn't powerful enough. Heck, it barely runs on Windows.

I did have some issues with Origin too, but I was able to run Blizzard Application and Epic Games Store just fine under Lutris.

What I am expecting from Valve is an easy way to install these other game stores. Yes, they are competitors but Valve promised me that I could.
whizse 8 Sep
  • Supporter
Quoting: AussieEeveeWhat I am expecting from Valve is an easy way to install these other game stores. Yes, they are competitors but Valve promised me that I could.
Where?
Raaben 8 Sep
I do worry that the Deck was oversold on that idea of 100% compatibility. If they don't come out swinging and have the big AC issues/media foundation issues working along with much more compatibility in general in these next few months I feel the one chance will be blown. Maybe not the Deck itself becoming Steam Machines 2.0 but then it will be known as the thing to "just install Windows" on since nothing works. I know alot of the audience among us here is no stranger to tweaking/updating/waiting individual games, but that's not the general gaming audience.

One issue I don't think I've seen brought up is mod tools; many of those are also non-working .Net apps and losing those won't inspire people to stick around.


Last edited by Raaben on 8 September 2021 at 10:51 am UTC
WorMzy 8 Sep
Quoting: whizse
Quoting: AussieEeveeWhat I am expecting from Valve is an easy way to install these other game stores. Yes, they are competitors but Valve promised me that I could.
Where?
https://www.steamdeck.com/en/hardware
QuoteYou can also install and use PC software, of course. Browse the web, watch streaming video, do your normal productivity stuff, install some other game stores, whatever.
Eike 8 Sep
Quoting: RaabenI do worry that the Deck was oversold on that idea of 100% comparability.

This. People will be disappointed.
Ehvis 8 Sep
View PC info
  • Supporter Plus
Quoting: WorMzy
Quoting: whizse
Quoting: AussieEeveeWhat I am expecting from Valve is an easy way to install these other game stores. Yes, they are competitors but Valve promised me that I could.
Where?
https://www.steamdeck.com/en/hardware
QuoteYou can also install and use PC software, of course. Browse the web, watch streaming video, do your normal productivity stuff, install some other game stores, whatever.

The key word here is "easy". It'll be easy for long time Linux users since they know how it works. But for your average Windows user it won't be that easy.
steam deck can actually play your entire library by changing the OS it can, so i doubt people are worried when youtube will show them how to install windows or install custom protons.
Technically not even running Windows on it will give you 100% compatibility. Some older Windows games are also borked.
Quoting: AussieEeveeHonestly, I expect it to work with everything. Valve has advertised that it works with everything... All my games should run on SteamOS. I can even install other launchers. That's what they told me. So that's what I expect.

I have had pretty good experiences with Lutris and Valve's Proton over the past couple of years, and my computer is way less powerful than the SteamDeck (That is sad to say :P), so I already know from experience that the majority of games will work fine. The only games I've ever had an issue with were anti-cheat games, and GTAV. And the problem with GTAV is because my computer isn't powerful enough. Heck, it barely runs on Windows.

I did have some issues with Origin too, but I was able to run Blizzard Application and Epic Games Store just fine under Lutris.

What I am expecting from Valve is an easy way to install these other game stores. Yes, they are competitors but Valve promised me that I could.

That's right! One should not promise nor state things one cannot accomplish then. The spreading of "false hope" does no favors to anybody. Maybe Valve will pull the 100% off after all though (they have the needed resources and the money for it i'd assume) So much already work! This COULD really be IT, the final break through for Linux gaming.
While you're here, please consider supporting GamingOnLinux on:

Patreon, Liberapay or PayPal Donation.

This ensures all of our main content remains totally free for everyone with no article paywalls. We also don't have tons of adverts, there's also no tracking and we respect your privacy. Just good, fresh content. Without your continued support, we simply could not continue!

You can find even more ways to support us on this dedicated page any time. If you already are, thank you!
Login / Register

Or login with...
Sign in with Steam Sign in with Twitter Sign in with Google
Social logins require cookies to stay logged in.