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: 24,846

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: «7/9»
  Go to:

[quote=BielFPs]
Quoting: MohandevirAll I know is: If this statement is just PR then SteamOS is over, because a lot of people already think that this is just steam machines all over again, and I'm worry that if Steam deck fails, then it'll have a huge negative impact in the progress of games running on linux.

Bruh, you got it all backwards, if people literally make the Steam Machines connection they will immediately have lower-expectations to begin with which will lead to pleasant surprise when it kicks ass.

The Doom & Gloom expectation problem is the same problem as the Hypetrain Choo Choo MF problem -- both are extremes not really grounded in reality.

The Deck is gonna be awesome, just not perfect -- does that clarify. They literally already sold out pre-orders for nearly an entire year. Can you imagine the infusion of developers, gamers, and average users into our community and what that will mean for all kinds of new github projects and the increase volume of gamers demanding support?

We good, homez. 2022 is gonna be lit.

Edit: Seeing some other sentiments in the comments I wanted to comment on

Quoting: whizseYeah, I think I mentioned this before, but it will be interesting to follow media reports. Going by ProtonDB* 82% of games tested work. That's pretty good. But if you focus on the top ten, only 50% work.

See ProtonDB stats 1 comment above and toggle the category drop-down on ProtonDB.com -- both of those numbers are not representative of Proton's capability because they are obviously specifically lower in Multiplayer which have very high levels of DRM. If EAC or BattlEye didn't exist those numbers would be in the 80s and 90s as is seen in other categories like Single Player.

Note to Valve: If you're reading this, please for the love of yourself, DO NOT put any Epic Games blobs in my kernel. It doesn't make sense to give a competitor that kind of power, and it's a potential vector for Epic Games, Timmy Tencent & China to have powers over me as a gamer -- I would appreciate some clarification on this at some point in the future and expect to not literally have a Chinese Root-kit running on my Steam Deck. Thank You.

Also, as we saw when Wacom made a Companion & Mobile Studio that competed with their ex-partner Microsoft Surface Pro (Gen 4?), we saw YEARS of driver issues -- I honestly would not be surprised if Microsoft was purposely sabotaging Wacom devices as they competed with Surface Pro -- we saw Apple sabotage iPhone 6 users and degrade performance for no good reason and then get sued and loose for that exact kind of anti-user thing. I really wouldn't bat an eye if Microsoft found "oopsies" for potential Steam Deck games who might choose to run Windows 10 or 11 -- they need to have the expectation that their Steam Deck experience is not as guaranteed as the official Valve Steam Operating System 3.0

Also, I would appreciate if someday there was a voice interactive AI that we have the GlaDOS announcer do it lol


Last edited by ElectricPrism on 9 September 2021 at 6:48 am UTC
Beamboom 9 Sep
I actually believe that they will get Proton working with BattlEye and EAC ahead of the launch. Or at the very least they thoroughly believe so themselves, based on what they know and their best estimates.
I think this is one of the key priorities now, it makes every sense for it to be so.
I hope all AC and DRM will be closed off in a container - closed source code that treats users like enemies and uses malware techniques (antivirus detection) is the last thing I want in my kernel. They already have the infrastructure with Soldier Runtime.
0aTT 9 Sep
Quote"Something that we said earlier on is that we really want the entire library to work," developer, Lawrence Yang told us, "and if it doesn't work we see that as a bug and we want to fix it."
https://www.pcgamer.com/if-the-steam-deck-doesnt-run-your-entire-library-at-launch-valve-sees-that-as-a-bug/
sub 9 Sep
Quoting: einherjarBad expectation management can kill the success of a product.
Here is a serious problem, that may kill SteamOS as a product. People will be disappointed about this shit Linux that does not run game <xyz> and install windows

I'm completely with you on that.

Yet, I wonder why the expectation management for Steam Machines and Steam Deck is so naive.
I mean, when it comes to HL3, Portal3, they are pretty clear and avoid anything leading to false hope. This must be two completely different strategies here.
Hmm, I wonder if ProtonDB will add some sort of "tested on Steam Deck" option to reports. That could be a fantastic extra bit of information for gauging compatibility. (Sure, you could guess from the hardware, but it might be useful to highlight that in some way.)
0aTT 9 Sep
Quoting: sub
Quoting: einherjarBad expectation management can kill the success of a product.
Here is a serious problem, that may kill SteamOS as a product. People will be disappointed about this shit Linux that does not run game <xyz> and install windows

I'm completely with you on that.

Yet, I wonder why the expectation management for Steam Machines and Steam Deck is so naive.
I mean, when it comes to HL3, Portal3, they are pretty clear and avoid anything leading to false hope. This must be two completely different strategies here.

Installing Windows on it will be painful. AMD and Valve are currently working on getting W11 to run at all.

Most people won't care about that at all. The TOP 100 games will run. You have people there who have never installed an OS before or who are coming from the Mac or another console.

What matters is whether the Steam Deck works and convinces as a gaming console. Then no one cares if some niche title runs on it right away. We are very concerned about that, but ordinary people don't care.
Liam Dawe 9 Sep
Quoting: GrazenSharing the link to the source story that is being referred to by most mainstream gaming sites but oddly enough not GOL.
That "source story" is not used in any form in the article. Plus, BS is junk and I want nothing to do with them.
Quoting: Liam Dawe
Quoting: GrazenSharing the link to the source story that is being referred to by most mainstream gaming sites but oddly enough not GOL.
That "source story" is not used in any form in the article. Plus, BS is junk and I want nothing to do with them.

If you think BS is junk, why you then just acknowledge what absolutely is not clear. You are an important source and could do much better.

As I already said: James Ramey stated himself that he was not part of the deck development. Pierre was not the only one stating that the whole library will be playable. For example Tucker Spofford clearly said: "It's your whole steam library. It's the whole steam store. It's not a limitation or like a slim down version oi it". And in that IGN video the topic is SteamOS 3.0: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJoUs0pM4GU&t=34s

As I saw your headline, I really hoped, that you clear things up. In the first place: Facing those clickbaiting, "fact-presenting" of an interpretation of James Ramey. A lot of sites currently presenting this "Watch out: Steam Deck cannot play your entire library! You will need to install Windows!"-Sh**

Please take your oppotunity and clear things up to the facts, which means that in my opinion the statements where crystal clear (James interpretation is so constructed, sorry...). There is a fork of Proton which we all haven't seen yet. Means: We cannot be 100 percent sure until SteamOS 3 will be released to the public.

Sorry for my rude words, but I did listen to the podcast and then saw how it went false into certain articles of certain pages and magazines. Most of them simply don't know better due to lack of knowledge. But you Liam would be the voice which knows what he's talking about.
Liam Dawe 9 Sep
Quoting: andregregorherrmannIf you think BS is junk, why you then just acknowledge what absolutely is not clear. You are an important source and could do much better.
I've no idea at this point what you're trying to say. My article does not use BS and so it does not link to it. This was a refresher article to go over the current known state of things.

Edit: I have included the note on the Steamworks video. Even though we already covered it (as I commented previously), it's worth mentioning again in this article to sum it up for expectations.


Last edited by Liam Dawe on 9 September 2021 at 10:59 am UTC
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.