Want to know how to play Game Pass on the Steam Deck? Well, there’s a method, but it might require you to jump through some complex hoops to get up and running correctly.
Game Pass is currently one of the best deals you can get in gaming. Hundreds of games, including EA Play, and streaming from anywhere? It’s essentially a dream come true for a lot of us.
However, no, you cannot straight install Game Pass games to the Steam Deck or SteamOS via Lutris/Wine or even Valve’s Proton.
Microsoft is – expectedly – cagey about how and where you play these Game Pass games. While they might be touting a ‘gaming for everyone’ message right now, the way that Game Pass works outside of the Xbox and streaming is weird. It’s because Microsoft uses something named UWP to get the games up and running.
How to play Game Pass games on Steam Deck: Streaming
With UWP in place, there are a few methods to get Game Pass games working on the Steam Deck, the easiest of which is to stream them.
This is the best option for those that don’t want to install Windows 11 on their Steam Deck, which takes a lot more work due to its unique hardware. You can’t just install and go, there are drivers and more to install. All in all, streaming is currently the easiest way to go about this.
As long as you use a Chromium browser, you should be able to stream games just fine. Chromium powers both Chrome and Edge, so we’ll go with Edge for simplicities sake.
Firefox won’t work, so you’ll need to grab Edge from the Discover app store.
Now let’s add it to Steam. In Desktop Mode, press the plus button and then choose Edge from the list of apps. Once we’ve done that, we can move on.
Now, you want to then open Konsole, the terminal app on SteamOS. This will require you to copy-paste the following in:
flatpak –user override –filesystem=/run/udev:ro com.microsoft.Edge
With this copied in, it’ll give Edge access to your controls when we swap over to Gaming Mode.
To access the on screen keyboard in Desktop Mode, press Steam+X.
However, navigating to the website you’ll need each and every time you load up Edge in Gaming Mode will be a hassle. Rather than doing that each time, Microsoft has cooked up some parameters for the Steam Deck to follow.
Find Edge in your Steam Library, right click, and press properties. Then find Launch Options and copy-paste the following:
–window-size=1024,640 –force-device-scale-factor=1.25 –device-scale-factor=1.25 –kiosk “https://www.xbox.com/play”
Save and you can now exit out to Gaming Mode. Inside Gaming Mode, when you load up Edge for the first time, you should be sent straight to Xbox Cloud Streaming.
What is UWP?
On Windows, the games aren’t installed as your usual .exe, and then a list of files that it pulls from to run the game. That’s all there, but is converted and sorted as a UWP, Universal Windows Platform. This essentially allows developers to create an application (in this case a game) that then will go out to all of Microsoft’s platforms.
UWP originally held a lot more weight when Windows 8 came about. Since Microsoft ditched the Metro UI (may god rest its soul) and the Windows Store doesn’t really do all that much outside installing Game Pass and streaming apps, it is now just a cumbersome file type to prevent piracy.