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How to check if a Steam game works on Steam Deck

How to check if a Steam game works on Steam Deck
(Image credit: Valve)

Valve's Steam Deck announcement made serious waves in the gaming space. The upcoming handheld gaming PC has a few caveats, notably that it runs Valve's own Linux distro called Steam OS. And since it's Linux, that means that not all games will work on the Steam Deck.

Luckily, Valve has been working on Linux gaming for years now with Proton. We already explained a bit about what Proton is, but it's a compatibility layer that translates API calls from games into something that Linux can understand.

Proton is a great system and revitalized Linux gaming a few years ago, and it's only gotten better since. However, there are still several games that don't work under it, including huge AAA games like Destiny 2 and Apex Legends. 

Some games come with anti-cheat software that fails to authenticate under Linux for various reasons. Valve has said that it is working with some of the vendors to address this.

In the meantime, you can get a head start on seeing which games in your library will run on the Steam Deck. Here's how.

How to check which Steam games will run on Steam Deck: Search ProtonDB

How to check if a Steam game works on Steam Deck - protondb home page

(Image credit: ProtonDB)

1. Head to the ProtonDB website. This contains a list of every game on Steam. The goal of ProtonDB, however, is to provide a rating system on how well a specific game runs under Proton.

2. In the Search field, type in the name of the game you want to check for compatibility.

3. Click the title of the game in the search results. This will take you to a detailed view.

How to check if a Steam game works on Steam Deck - protondb game results page

(Image credit: ProtonDB)

4. Check ProtonDB's ratings and the user reviews to find out if the game will open and run on Proton on the Steam Deck.

How to check which Steam games will run on Steam Deck: Understanding ProtonDB's ratings

ProtonDB rates games using the following ranks: Borked, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Native. The higher the rank, the better the game runs. Borked means the game is outright broken and will not run, or it will face significant problems if it does launch.

There's an additional community aspect, too. Each game's rating comes from user reviews, where people list their system specs and distro and write what works, what doesn't work, and any workarounds they've found. In some cases, that means using forked Proton alternatives or setting command arguments in Steam itself for when the game launches.

Between now and when the Steam Deck launches, Valve (or the community) could continue to improve Proton's viability. If your favorite game is rated as Borked, or even Bronze, be sure to check ProtonDB every so often to see if it's been fixed.

Pay special attention to the most recent reviews, in the case that there's a breakthrough or fix available. And if Valve comes through on its claim that it's working on addressing the anti-cheat compatibility issue, then some of your favorite games may upgrade to a new rank quickly. 

Jordan Palmer

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. It's hard to nail down one thing that Jordan is passionate about, since his attention span for a single given topic or activity doesn't last long. Jordan tends to lurk on social media, but you can best reach him on Twitter: @jccpalmer — his Instagram feed is mostly photos of his cat.