There’s A Lot Fewer Games On Steam Deck Than I Expected

A developer at Valve did an interview with PC Gamer last July, shortly after the Steam Deck was announced, and said that the company hadn’t found a game that the Steam Deck couldn’t run. Apparently I really took that quote to heart and stopped paying attention to compatibility updates, because when I finally received my Steam Deck this week I was dismayed to find out that over the last year Valve has found a shitload of games the Steam Deck can’t run.

In retrospect I realize he was talking about the power of the hardware, and that there are a multitude of reasons why games don’t work on the Steam Deck. Linux’s lack of certain security features means that Destiny 2, Halo Infinite, and games that use similar anti-cheat programs aren’t compatible with the Steam Deck. Games that use their own launchers on top of Steam, like EA Origin, also won’t work on the Steam Deck. There’s a lot of games that Valve just hasn’t gotten around to testing yet, which can make shopping on the Steam Deck quite a gamble. Can you play Dishonored 2, Fear 3, Monster Hunter Rise, or Resident Evil 7 on your Steam Deck? I don’t know, and neither does Valve.

There are 531 games in my Steam library, and only 132 of those are verified by Valve. The rest of them aren’t necessarily weird, niche little indies – although there are plenty of those. According to Valve, you can’t play Dragon Age Inquisition, Marvel’s Avengers, Crysis, Terminator: Resistance, Elite Dangerous, Fall Guys, Hardspace: Shipbreaker, or Injustice 2, just to name a few. While some of the online, multiplayer exclusions make sense, a lot of them are confusing. I can play Resident Evil 2 Remake, but not 3. I can play Simulacra, but not Simulacra 2. I can play Divinity: Original Sin, but not the Enhanced Edition, while the Warmaster Edition of Darksiders works but not the standard edition. It’s sometimes maddening to scroll through my library looking for games to play because more often than not I run into a roadblock. Thief, Tomb Raider, We Were Here, Resident Evil, Sonic, Deus Ex, and Assassin’s Creed – all either partially or fully unsupported.

There are ways around these problems. ProtonDB is a great resource of crowd-source information that offers a lot more information than Steam’s simple Verified, Playable, Untested, and Unsupported tags. There, you can search for a game and see what kind of experience other people have had with it. It offers a much more accurate rating for each game, and I found some that actually worked despite Valve saying they wouldn’t. You’ll also find workarounds to fix a lot of games that aren’t currently supported, but that often involves installing some custom software or tweaking some files. I hear it's easy enough and I might dive into things like custom Proton and virtual desktops if I get desperate waiting for Valve to get more games to run natively, but I’m reluctant to start tweaking my new $700 console for fear that I’ll somehow destroy it.

If you primarily play big triple-A single-player games that are relatively new, you’ll have a much easier time with the Steam Deck. Games like Alien: Isolation, Metal Gear Solid 5, The Witcher 3, God of War, and Horizon: Zero Dawn are the only kinds of games I’ve installed so far, and even some of those don’t work well, despite being “Verified”. The fact that Apex Legends and Ark are verified gives me some hope that multiplayer games that use Easy: Anti-Cheat and BattlEye will eventually get verified, though we know for certain some, like Destiny, won’t be.

The Steam Deck may have over 3,000 verified games, but there are more than 50,000 games on Steam, and more are added every day. It’s going to take a long time before the majority of our libraries are verified, and plenty of games will never work. I’m trying to look at my Steam Deck as the console of the future, because it certainly isn’t a console for the past.

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