There’s no good way to play Game Pass games on the Steam Deck, yet

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The Steam Deck is versatile. Valve designed SteamOS to make it as easy as possible to play games from your Steam library, but thanks to the Linux desktop, it’s also easy to turn the Deck into an emulation device or even install games from Epic Games Store. I wish its versatility also covered installing games from Game Pass, Microsoft’s subscription service.

But right now, the Steam Deck and the Game Pass really don’t mix.

You can play Game Pass on the Steam Deck by installing Windows, but it’s currently too limited

Valve released Windows drivers for the Steam Deck on March 10, which means you can now wipe SteamOS and turn the Deck into a Windows machine if you want. But I don’t recommend it, for several reasons:

  • No dual boot support yet
  • The drivers aren’t complete yet, so audio only works over USB-C and Bluetooth. No speakers or 3.5mm audio
  • Windows is much less convenient for navigating Deck controller inputs than SteamOS

As Dave wrote here, “booting Windows on the bridge feels like nothing short of a complete deflation, like you completely miss the point of the device in your hands…Windows isn’t built for life. on the small screen, nor is it designed for a dedicated gaming device either.” Yes, some Steam games you can play through Windows don’t work through Steam Proton yet, but until dual boot is available, you’re giving up too many SteamOS benefits to get too little in return.

There is no workaround to install Game Pass games through SteamOS

It would be great if we could install Game Pass games the same way we can install Epic games on the Steam Deck, essentially running the client from Steam using its compatibility software. This works well for the basic Epic launcher, but Game Pass’ Xbox app is more deeply tied to Windows (it’s basically a gaming-focused skin for the Microsoft Store).

Maybe we’ll see Game Pass available through Steam one day – 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 works. Until we can dual boot Windows on the Steam Deck, there’s really only going to be one option for getting Game Pass games on the Deck: streaming them. And even that is not ready yet.

Streaming via XCloud will not work until Chrome receives an update

Microsoft’s 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 a PC or mobile device. Xbox Cloud works in Chrome, but there is currently an unresolved issue with Chrome on the Steam Deck preventing the browser from “seeing” Deck commands.

Once this issue is fixed, you will be able to stream many Game Pass games to the Steam Deck, but for now, streaming to the Deck is not an easy process. There are workarounds if you really want to dig into Linux and get your hands dirty, but for now it’s best to wait.

One day we’ll play our Game Pass games on the Steam Deck, but today it’s not worth it.

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