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Steam Deck Won't Play All Your Steam Games At Launch, Warns Proton Co-Developer

The president of Codeweavers felt the need to clarify some misconceptions around Proton compatibility of Steam games.


Valve's portable gaming device, the Steam Deck, is scheduled to launch later this year. With it comes the prospect of taking your entire Steam library on the go with you, a feature that was seemingly confirmed when the portable platform was first announced. But that might not be the case at launch, with Codeweavers president James B. Ramey asking buyers to check their expectations.

Codeweavers co-developed Proton with Valve. Proton is the layer through which SteamOS is able to run native Windows titles on Linux, which ships with the Steam Deck. As you might expect, there are some cases where games will not work as intended with SteamOS out of the box, with Proton currently supporting around 16,000 games that are listed on Steam. That's a large number (especially since it was only 27 in 2018), but it's still not all of the games on Steam, which might end up conflicting with some of your purchases.

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Now Playing: Valve's Steam Deck - First Impressions

The confusion around library-wide compatibility seems to have stemmed from an interview conducted between IGN and Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais. In it, Griffais mentions that the Steam Deck will be able to handle all games currently sold on Steam, something which Ramey interprets as more to do with hardware compatibility than software. Speaking on the Boiling Steam podcast, Ramey warned that there definitely will be some games that won't work with the Steam Deck at launch.

"I don’t necessarily think he was referencing supporting that game in Proton--I think he was referencing that the device has the horsepower, the video graphics, the RAM, the hard drive space to support any game out there," Ramey explained.

He does, however, believe that the Steam Deck will further incentivize developers to ensure that their games entirely support Linux natively or play nicely with Proton. Having a device like the Steam Deck will create more demand around compatibility, which will only grow Proton faster than it has already been growing, according to Ramey. Of course you could also sidestep this issue entirely but replacing SteamOS with Windows, with Valve says you will be able to do.

"I do think that because Proton is a living, breathing project; it's not something that is static in any way, shape, or form," he concluded. "There is a lot of effort being poured into Proton to support a broader range of games even that is available then currently today. So you're going to see that when the Steam Deck is released and Proton is put on the Steam Deck that there is going to be a greater number of titles that are supported."

You can listen to the entire interview over at Boiling Steam's website, or read through the handy transcript, too. The Steam Deck starts shipping this December, with orders sold out until Q2 2022 already.

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