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Steam Deck Verified has issues, Grand Theft Auto V edition

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As I continue to use the Steam Deck that Valve sent over for both work and play, I tried Grand Theft Auto V and the initial setup was a massive nuisance. See also: How Valve Can Make the Deck Verified Program Better

This is a game that has gone through verification, to get a Deck "Playable" rating. This means it should work well but may have some minor annoyances like small text or a part requiring the touch screen. Here though, it was far worse and this is the short story of a semi-eventful Saturday night where I just wanted to play a game that I picked carefully enough — or so I thought.

On first launch with Proton 7, what it was verified against, it tells you it needs to install the Rockstar Launcher before you can play. The annoyance begins here of course as I've already waited on a 100GB download. I was at least pre-warned on this since I read the compatibility note. Fine then, let's do it. Except during the launcher install Rockstar gave an error telling me that it simply couldn't proceed. It gave an option to retry with a button I clicked, but that totally failed again. Clearly not a good experience right away. Playable — apparently.

So the next step was of course to restart the game entirely. Hit the Steam button for the Overlay, tell it to exit the game. Then reload it. Hooray! This got it to install the launcher and my face lights up with joy and anticipation to drive around and do silly things. Now it tells me I need an activation code. What code? Nothing told me I needed a code when I purchased it on Steam. Thinking it's a launcher error, I reloaded and it then broke completely. The launcher just didn't load any more and it dumped me back into my Steam Library. Tried three times, same problem. Tried a reboot, the issue persisted.

At this point, I'm annoyed. I think anyone would be. I decided to swap it over to Proton Experimental (tip: here's a guide on swapping Proton versions on Steam Deck), and that actually worked! I could get the launcher to load without fail through multiple tries but I still needed a code. Of course, normally, the desktop Steam client would've had a pop-up to tell you that you have a CD Key and the game might ask for it - no such thing happens on the Steam Deck.

Searching around, the CD Key can be found in the COG icon menu of the game in your Steam Library. Then go to Manage and the CD Key option is in there. Valve even give an option to copy it, which I did. Going back to the game, I couldn't figure out how to paste it in as the field just wouldn't get focus. After randomly clicking inside and around the input field, eventually i got the Steam Deck Keyboard to work with it but the paste button did nothing. A couple tries of this and eventually it pasted the key in properly. That was about 30 minutes after first clicking play.

For me, I don't really think any experience like that should be in the Playable category. Did no testing ever find any of these issues? How deep and repeated is the Deck Verified testing on each game? We really have no clue.

Thankfully, at least when it comes to performance, GTA V runs rather swimmingly on the Steam Deck so I've no complaints at all there.

I can name other titles where there's more issues like performance being problematic and yet they have a fully Verified tag on them. Vampire Survivors goes into single digit FPS towards the end of a battle when performance is most important, Horizon Zero Dawn can do too in places (even LinusTechTips noted that too, and we got a shout out in their recent video) and there's others. Borderlands 3 is another Playable that in places drops hard and stutters a lot. The two previous were mentioned in my initial Steam Deck review in case you missed it.

The thing to remember is that for something to succeed we also need to talk about shortcomings and general issues. This is not an attempt to derail the hype and momentum, more of a wish to see things get better.

Really, Valve needs to take another look at how they run Deck Verified if trust in it is to be a real thing. Otherwise, like my friend Nick from The Linux Experiment said in our big collaboration video, the green Verified tick will end up meaningless if strict standards aren't followed. The same of course applies to the Playable category too.

Additionally, could we please stop slapping a launcher on everything?

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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48 comments
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toor 12 Mar
Damn, seems like you got a terrible UX with it Liam, I've seen many videos of guys playing GTA V on the deck, I wonder if they had the same trouble installing it.
Fun fact, but not on deck, GTA V used to work on proton 7 for me, but was updated recently, and then I got this same error of yours, and only experimental allowed me to fix it easily (haven't tried earlier versions)
CatKiller 12 Mar
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QuoteAdditionally, could we please stop slapping a launcher on everything?
That definitely gets my vote.

Unfortunately, Valve seem to feel that they need to woo the big publishers, so they're barely recommending against interstitial launchers at all, and are merely offering tools in the hopes that publishers will choose of their own volition to reduce the jank.
Liam Dawe 12 Mar
Quoting: toorDamn, seems like you got a terrible UX with it Liam, I've seen many videos of guys playing GTA V on the deck, I wonder if they had the same trouble installing it.
Fun fact, but not on deck, GTA V used to work on proton 7 for me, but was updated recently, and then I got this same error of yours, and only experimental allowed me to fix it easily (haven't tried earlier versions)
The thing I've noticed about many videos of random games running on Deck from certain channels is they didn't show the setup procedure which I'm doing in my various guides on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/GamingOnLinux

The thing that concerns me, is how even on set hardware like this we can see such differences between people.
MayeulC 12 Mar
Linus Sebastian from LTT said he had to launch GTA V 7 times IIRC... And it worked only once.
Yes, definitely some issues here.


Last edited by MayeulC on 12 March 2022 at 11:10 pm UTC
einherjar 12 Mar
Sounds really bad.
Perhaps the publishers give a fuck about the rating. They may think:"If Valve makes it work, fine. If not, the people can install Windows..."

What a bad experience. That is the kind of thing, that can make the Steam Deck a failure.
Mohandevir 12 Mar
Just read a comment from a Windows user that Vampire Survivors has the same issue on Windows desktop. It seems it's not Deck specific.

Have you contacted the devs?
Liam Dawe 12 Mar
Quoting: MohandevirJust read a comment from a Windows user that Vampire Survivors has the same issue on Windows desktop. It seems it's not Deck specific.

Have you contacted the devs?
The developer didn't verify it, Valve did.
const 12 Mar
It was clear from the start that Valve designed the verified programm to not depend on goodwill of publishers and we should clearly be glad they did it this way.
Maybe they need additional statuses, maybe we need a better feedback loop to identifiy titles that slipped through their testing and maybe they should have a reward system for devs/publishers that show they care.In the end, Valve want Proton robust enough that they hardly need help from the original developers and can stem everything on their side. That's a damn big goal, but it's the only way to make this platform succeed in the end.
Regarding HZD: I've heard a lot of people have similar issues with the game getting messy after some hours even on Windows.


Last edited by const on 12 March 2022 at 11:32 pm UTC
I've never really understood the point of launchers. I mean, normally, if you have a program that runs, that's that, right? You "launch" the program and it runs. So with some games, you instead launch a thing that then launches the program and then it runs, and what is this extra step supposed to be for?
fagnerln 12 Mar
Shame on R* to be honest.

But yeah, if a game has a launcher, it shouldn't be on "playable".
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