How to game in the cloud with the Valve Steam Deck
This handheld game console can do nearly everything.
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Cloud gaming has created the ability to play video games—even graphically demanding ones—without a dedicated PC or console. Just like streaming a movie on Netflix, you can now play games like Elden Ring and Cyberpunk 2077 on your phone, tablet, budget PC, Mac, or Chromebook just by visiting a website with the Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge browser (or in some cases, a stand-alone app like GeForce Now).
Valve’s Steam Deck will soon not only be a portable PC and emulator, but also a powerful cloud gaming device, thanks to Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge developers working on getting the two internet browsers compatible with the Deck’s Linux operating system. Some bugs are still getting worked out, so we’ll be adding updates to this article as time goes on—but here’s how you can game in the cloud with the Steam Deck now.
Google’s Chrome browser is pre-installed on the Steam Deck. It’s accessible from either your Steam library or via the console’s PC desktop mode, but it’s much more convenient and easier to navigate from your library. From there, visit Stadia’s website, login with your Gmail account (or sign-up for a free trial), pick a game to play, and have fun!
However, in our recent testing, we discovered that Stadia isn’t 100% compatible with the Steam Deck quite yet; not all of the controls work.
For instance, you can’t move with the left thumbstick, but you can rotate the camera with the right thumbstick and do other things like pause the game and use the action buttons. If you want full controller functionality at the time of this writing, you’ll have to connect a Stadia or another controller to the Deck via Bluetooth—which, of course, is not ideal!
Included with Xbox’s Game Pass Ultimate subscription is the option to play Xbox games via the cloud. xCloud, as Xbox’s cloud gaming service is still affectionally referred to, works on both Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge. Microsoft Edge does not come pre-installed on the Steam Deck like Chrome does, but you can use the Discover app on the Deck’s desktop mode to install a beta version of it that works with Arch Linux. (Arch Linux is the operating system that powers the Steam Deck.)
That process is detailed on the official Microsoft Edge Reddit community, so if you’re feeling eager to take on a little project it’ll guide you step by step.
The main benefit to installing Edge on the Steam Deck is that this version of the browser is compatible with the Steam Deck controls—so any other cloud gaming service that also works via the Edge browser will have working controls, as well.
This also means that you can theoretically use Edge instead of Chrome to play games on Stadia, since Edge is a Chromium-based browser. But Edge is not officially supported by Stadia so you might run into issues. Microsoft Edge is currently the best way to game in the cloud with the Steam Deck until other browsers catch up.
Nvidia GeForce Now
Like xCloud, Nvidia’s GeForce Now is also accessible via the Chrome and Edge browsers, but it has the same controller issues as Stadia when you play games via Chrome.
However, with working controls via Edge, using GeForce Now is the best option when it comes to playing games you purchased from Epic or GOG since you won’t have to buy a second copy of the game you want to play through Steam. That was one of the things we didn’t like when we initially reviewed the Steam Deck, but now that you can get Edge working on the Deck and GeForce Now supports Edge, that will be the easiest way to play games you purchased from Epic or GOG on the Deck.
Valve’s Steam Deck runs on the Arch Linux operating system, and, unfortunately, there is no official Linux version of Epic or GOG. However, there is 3rd party software that you can find on places like Github that can make Epic and GOG work on the Steam Deck. That said, getting non-Steam games to run on the Deck is a much more involved process than getting the Edge browser to work. There’s no guarantee that non-Steam games installed locally on the Deck will run, either.
So since you can link your Steam, Epic, and GOG libraries to your GeForce Now account, you can circumvent all that by launching GeForce Now in the Edge browser.
Recently, Amazon officially launched its cloud gaming service, Luna, to the public, and anyone with an active Prime subscription can play the games offered via its Luna+ channel for free. (Read our full review here.)
Like most of the other cloud gaming platforms, Luna works with both Chrome and Edge, but of course, you’ll get full Steam Deck functionality with Edge.
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