The steam deck is universal. Valve designed SteamOS to make it as easy as possible to play a game from your Steam library, but with a Linux desktop, it’s also easy to turn a deck into an emulation device or even install games from the Epic Games Store. I wish its versatility also covered installing games from Game Pass, Microsoft’s subscription service.
But right now, Steam Deck and Game Pass are really incompatible.
You can play Game Pass on Steam Deck by installing Windows, but it’s currently too limited.
Valve released Windows drivers for Steam Deck on March 10th, which means you can now wipe SteamOS and turn Deck into a Windows computer if you want. But I don’t recommend it for several reasons:
- No dual boot support yet
- The drivers are not yet fully functional, so audio-only works over USB-C and Bluetooth. No speakers or 3.5mm audio
- Windows is far less navigable with a Deck controller than SteamOS.
As Dave wrote here, “Loading Windows on deck is nothing short of a complete blow-off like you’re completely missing the device in your hands…Windows isn’t built for life on the small screen, nor is it designed for either a dedicated gaming device”. Yes, there are some Steam games you can play on Windows that don’t work on Steam Proton yet, but until the dual boot is available, you’re giving up too many of the benefits of SteamOS for too little in return.
No workaround to install Game Pass games via SteamOS
It would be great if we could install Game Pass games the same way we install Epic games on Steam Deck, essentially launching the client from Steam using its compatibility software. This works great for the basic Epic launcher, but the Xbox Game Pass app is more closely tied to Windows (essentially a game-centric skin for the Microsoft Store).
Maybe someday we’ll see Game Pass available through Steam – Valve’s Gabe Newell told us they’re open to the idea. But for Microsoft, that would require a major overhaul of how Game Pass functions. Until we can dual boot Windows on a Steam deck, there will really only be one option for downloading Game Pass games on a deck: streaming them. And even that isn’t ready yet.
Streaming via iCloud won’t work until Chrome gets an update
Microsoft Xbox cloud service, which is part of a Game Pass Ultimate subscription, lets you stream games from remote Xbox Series X hardware in the cloud to your PC or mobile device. Xbox Cloud works on Chrome, but there is currently still an unresolved issue with Chrome on Steam Deck that causes the browser to not “see” the Deck controls.
Once this issue is fixed, you will be able to stream many Game Pass games to a Steam deck, but as of now, streaming in a deck is not an easy task. There are workarounds if you really want to dig into Linux and get your hands dirty, but it’s best to wait for now.
Someday we’ll be playing our Game Pass games on Steam Deck, but today it’s not worth the effort.