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Valve’s Steam Deck will let you install anything, including the Epic Games Store

Don’t want SteamOS? You can get Windows instead

two people playing Guilty Gear Strive with two fight sticks connected to a Steam Deck Image: Valve
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Don’t actually want to play Steam games on your Steam Deck? That’s OK: Valve’s new handheld device isn’t a closed system — players can download other operating systems and game stores on the device.

Epic Games Store, uPlay, and Origin? All of those will work on the Steam Deck, if you wanted to play there, according to IGN.

Valve announced the handheld device on Thursday. The Nintendo Switch-like device will be available in December starting at $399. Basically, Steam Deck is described as a portable PC, with a bigger footprint than the Nintendo Switch — at least slightly. The screen is 7 inches, sandwiched by thumbsticks, a D-pad, and buttons. Trackpads are available on each side of the device, too, with eight triggers on the back. The Steam Deck runs Proton, which is an adapted version of Linux that can play Windows and Linux games. In contrast to Nintendo’s notorious closed system for the Switch, Valve will let players circumvent its Steam OS entirely — you could just wipe the thing and add Windows.

That means game stores like Steam rival Epic Games Store will be available to use, too, alongside other stores. ( is available as an app on Epic Games Store, so indie games from there will be easily accessible, too, it seems.)

The possibilities don’t stop there, either. Microsoft opened its Xbox Cloud Gaming platform to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers in June, making the cloud-based streaming service available on browsers. Theoretically, that means that players will likely be able to access Xbox Game Pass games using the Stream Deck.

“It is a PC; you can install whatever you want on it,” Valve’s Erik Peterson said in a developer-oriented video published to Valve’s Steamworks YouTube channel. In addition, Greg Coomer of Valve told IGN that the Steam Deck’s accessory support extends to “anything that can be plugged in via USB and anything that can be plugged in or accessed via Bluetooth.”

IGN reported that Steam Deck’s default Steam OS is “smooth and efficient” at what it does — getting people into video games. But the option for more — a totally open environment for gaming — is refreshing to hear about, considering how closed off other portable gaming devices often are, like Nintendo Switch or even Apple phones. Other plus here is that players will also be able to access Steam Workshop and mods outside the workshop, which feels unheard of for portable devices — unless you intended to jailbreak those systems.

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