Want Xbox Game Pass on your Steam Deck? Here's how

Steam Deck
(Image credit: Steam Deck)

Many of us have had eyes on the Steam Deck handheld PC because of its convenience when compared to gaming laptops, as well as its potential emulation capabilities, but some fresh information from Microsoft has just made it a whole lot better still. In a Reddit thread created by a Microsoft employee, it was announced that Xbox Game Pass was being made available on the Valve system via the Microsoft Edge beta.

User u/MSFTMissy states: "We worked closely with Valve and the Xbox Cloud Gaming team to bring support for Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate through Microsoft Edge Beta for the Steam Deck". 

This isn't the first time we've seen Microsoft announcing some news that relates to the Steam Deck, given it's technically a gaming PC, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the computing giant would want to keep a good relationship with Valve. A few weeks back, it was revealed that several Microsoft Studios games had updated the status of a wide variety of its games to Steam Deck Verified, and several others to Playable.

Still, Xbox Game Pass isn't just a nice feature, for some it's an essential part of the PC gaming experience, offering over 100 games at an affordable monthly cost. Given its popularity, this is sure to be a big selling point for budget-savvy folks who had their eyes on the handheld.

You can follow the below instructions created by Microsoft to install the Edge browser beta onto the Steam Deck. There are a fair few steps, but this is a much easier process than it looks, and took us less than 30 minutes to get set up. 

How to run Xbox Game Pass on Steam Deck

Steam Deck connected to keyboard and mouse and running Windows 10

(Image credit: Future / Microsoft)
  • Press the Steam menu > Power > Switch to Desktop
  • Click the Discover Software Center icon
  • Click the hamburger menu > Internet > Web Browsers
  • Scroll until you find Microsoft Edge Beta and click the install button
  • Back on the Desktop, click the Applications Launcher icon on the bottom left of the taskbar
  • Navigate to Internet
  • Right-click on Microsoft Edge (beta) > Add to Steam
  • In the Add a Game window, scroll to find and select Microsoft Edge (beta)
  • Back in the Applications menu, navigate to System > Konsole
  • Set the override by entering this command in Konsole:
flatpak --user override --filesystem=/run/udev:ro com.microsoft.Edge

On the Desktop, launch Steam

  • Head to your Library and locate Microsoft Edge (beta)
  • Right-click on it > Properties
  • Change the name to Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta)
  • Locate LAUNCH OPTIONS and append the following:
--window-size=1024,640 --force-device-scale-factor=1.25 --device-scale-factor=1.25 --kiosk "https://www.xbox.com/play"

To switch the controller layout to Gamepad with touchpad as Mouse:

  • Select the gear icon in the top right > Manage > Controller layout
  • Browse the templates and select Gamepad with Mouse Trackpad

A cautionary word, though: while many of the user comments on the Reddit thread state that they found the process to be a success, we experienced several issues with this method including the controller not being recognized and the onscreen keyboard for Linux Terminal being a slog to work through.

We did get games to run through the system as intended, but it wasn't a particularly pleasant experience, so we would suggest waiting for an official app to be released if you want to play games and actually, uh, enjoy them.

Analysis: points for effort, but we have a way to go

Does this work? Yes, after testing it ourselves we can attest that Xbox Game Pass will run titles such as Halo: Infinite through the system (despite the anti-cheat software issues), but you have a lot of boxes to tick to make sure the experience is anything close to enjoyable right now.

For one, you'll need a decent wireless internet connection, as is the case for all games being streamed from a cloud-based service, but we would also suggest setting this up if you have a physical keyboard to plug into the system. 

The touchscreen-operated digital keyboard was a massive pain to navigate, and we also couldn't get a controller working despite the instructions, though the Reddit thread suggests that other users have had better luck so far.

Still, this could be a great feature when the Steam Deck Dock is finally released as you'll be getting a wired ethernet connection alongside additional ports for peripherals like a mouse and keyboard should you want to avoid using the built-in controls.

Despite our own luck, we encourage you to give it a try for yourself as we appear to be in the minority. Given how popular this feature could be for the Steam Deck and Valve, we hope that an official Xbox Game Pass app is in the works, especially with the same Microsoft representative who created the Reddit post stating that: "We’re particularly excited about this ourselves as we feel it can open new opportunities in the Linux gaming community". That will certainly streamline the process who anyone who isn't comfortable jumping through so many hoops to get it running on the handheld system.

Until then, you can check out the full list of Xbox Studios games that are natively supported on the Steam Deck directly on the Steam website

  • If you want to be sure your favorite PC game is supported, you could get a gaming laptop
Jess Weatherbed

Jess is a former TechRadar Computing writer, where she covered all aspects of Mac and PC hardware, including PC gaming and peripherals. She has been interviewed as an industry expert for the BBC, and while her educational background was in prosthetics and model-making, her true love is in tech and she has built numerous desktop computers over the last 10 years for gaming and content creation. Jess is now a journalist at The Verge.