Steam Deck will let you know which games run well... and which ones don't

Steam Deck on sparkly background
(Image credit: Future / Valve)

Got your Steam Deck pre-ordered, but worried about which games in your library you'll actually be able to run on the Linux-based device? Valve might just have you covered with the Steam Deck Verified ratings system, launching with the console in December, 2021.

As reported by The Verge, Steam Deck Verified breaks down playability into four distinct categories, and are viewable at a glance on the handheld right next to a game's icon.

The first (and most important) category is 'Verified'. This means that a game runs excellently on Steam Deck out of the box. Criteria for Verified includes being able to use Steam Deck's unique features like the on-screen keyboard, running at the console's native 720p resolution and without displaying compatibility warnings on startup.

The next category is 'Playable', symbolized by a yellow icon. Essentially, this category is for games that can run on Steam Deck, but may have some compatibility issues. You may also need to manually tweak some settings for a more optimal experience.

'Unsupported' is just that. These games won't work on Steam Deck due to incompatibility with Steam Deck's Proton operating system, or requires external peripherals. This includes VR titles like Half-Life Alyx. However, it's been reported that Oculus Quest 2 headsets will be compatible with Steam Deck.

The final category is Unknown, meaning that these games have yet to be tested thoroughly for Steam Deck compatibility. Valve notes in the above video that a game's category can change over time if it or the Steam Deck console itself receive future patches and updates.

Analysis: Steam Deck Verified could save a lot of headaches

We love the idea of the Steam Deck Verified rating system, chiefly because it takes all the guesswork out of how efficiently a game in your library can run on the handheld console. Not only that, but players will be able to access a unique "Great on Deck" Steam store page, curated to feature only games that function on the console with little to no issues.

One slight gripe we have is that the Playable category seems vague at best. Valve outlines that a game could find itself here for a number of reasons, including having to manually select a controller setup, or needing to use the Deck's touch screen if the game uses an external launcher separate from Steam, as is the case with Final Fantasy 14, for example.

We hope that Playable doesn't become something of a misnomer on the Deck, as we could see it very easily turning into a bit of a grey area. The term "playable" is pretty subjective, after all, so what Valve deems to be playable might not match with the end user, such as frequent frame drops or any number of accessibility issues.

Still, we prefer having at least a guideline for how playable our games will be on Steam Deck, and we think a system like Steam Deck Verified is absolutely necessary on what is essentially a handheld PC. Being able to check general compatibility at a glance is a great start, and hopefully, we'll see more and more Steam games get that green Verified tick as the console continues to receive updates.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.