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.
Let’s get this out of the way first: No, you cannot just install Game Pass games from the app to the Steam Deck. Unless you’re running Windows on it, but let’s be honest – do you want the hassle?
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.
So to get around this, there are a few steps we need to take and a huge caveat to take on SteamOS. Without dual booting being officially supported, and Windows not having the same magic as Valve intended with the SD card, it might be best to live with the caveat.
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.
Playing on Game Pass on Windows via the Steam Deck
If you’re more of the type to rely on a local version of the game to play on, you can always install Windows to your Steam Deck. Be sure to follow our guide, as we take you through the whole process, including how to dual-boot the system.
This will also allow you to play games like Modern Warfare 2.