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How to play Game Pass games on your Steam Deck

Yes, this sounds-too-good-to-be-true hack is possible

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A screenshot of the Game Pass sign in page on the Steam Deck. Image: Microsoft via Polygon
Jeffrey Parkin (he/him) has been writing video game guides for Polygon for almost seven years. He has learned to love just about every genre of game that exists.

With a Steam Deck in your hands, you’ll have access to your entire Steam library whenever and wherever you want. Over at Microsoft, a Game Pass Ultimate subscription gets you access to not quite 500 games from the Xbox catalogue. But what if you could combine the two?

The SteamOS running on your Steam Deck is built on a Linux distro, which means it’s really just a handheld computer. And that means you can trick it into playing (most) Game Pass games through a browser with Xbox Cloud Gaming. To clarify: you can’t actually install any Game Pass games on the Steam Deck, but you can install a browser that runs Cloud Gaming — which will allow you to stream most games from the Game Pass library. (Microsoft continually increases its Cloud Gaming offerings — as of this writing, almost 370 games have such support.)

It takes a bit of work to convince Valve’s handheld to run these games, though, and the process is a bit intimidating. But with a little patience and technical savvy, you’ll be able to get Game Pass working on a Steam Deck. Here’s how.

Install Microsoft Edge on your Steam Deck

The Steam Deck Power menu.
Hit Power and then Switch to Desktop.
Image: Valve via Polygon

Switch your Steam Deck to desktop mode by hitting the Steam button, selecting Power, and then hitting Switch to Desktop. This will launch a desktop version of the SteamOS.

Using Discover in Steam Deck’s Desktop Mode to install Microsoft Edge.
Use Discover to install Microsoft Edge.
Image: Valve via Polygon

In the desktop, you’ll use the right thumbstick, right trackpad to move the mouse, or just tap the screen to move the mouse. The A button, right trigger, or clicking the right trackpad are your left clicks (the trackpad is more reliable than the thumbsticks in our experience), and the left trigger works as a right click. Yes, right is left and left is right — somehow it works.

Go down to the menu bar and click on Discover — the icon that looks like a shopping bag. You’ll need to type in the search bar, so click inside it and then hit Steam + X to pull up the onscreen keyboard. Type in “edge” (or “Microsoft Edge” if you’re feeling extra) and hit install on the Microsoft Edge browser.

Next, hit the start button (the Application Launcher button) in the bottom left, mouse up to Internet, and right click (with the left trigger) on Microsoft Edge. Select Add to Steam.

Using Steam Deck’s Konsole in Desktop Mode.
Open Konsole and type in the command below.
Image: Valve via Polygon

Hit the Application Launcher button again and go to System > Konsole. Launch it to bring up a terminal- or command prompt-like window. Press Steam + X again to pull up the keyboard, and (carefully) type in the following:

flatpak --user override --filesystem=/run/udev:ro

Note the two hyphens before the user and filesystem commands. Use the left trigger or long press on the semicolon to get a colon. We don’t think the capital matters, but maybe use it just to be safe. (This command will give Edge access to the controller inputs in Gaming Mode.)

Type exit to close the window.

Set up Microsoft Edge in your Steam Library

While still in Desktop mode, launch Steam. Scroll through your Library to find Microsoft Edge. Right-click and select Properties.

Steam running in the Steam Deck’s Desktop Mode.
Open Steam in Desktop Mode and select Properties.
Image: Valve via Polygon

You don’t have to change the name, but it’ll make your life easier if you do — we went with the simple “Xbox Cloud Gaming.” Scroll down to the Launch Options box. There’s already a lot of information there. Click in the box and type in the following at the end of the line after the “@@u @@” part:

-- window-size=1024,640 --force-device-scale-factor=1.25 --device-scale-factor=1.25 --kiosk “”

Again, note the double hyphens.

Apply the Controller Layout

Back at your Library, right-click on Xbox Cloud Gaming (or whatever you named Microsoft Edge to). This time, select Manage > Controller Layout. Get past the informational screens that pop up and then hit the Browse Configs button at the top.

Changing Cloud Gaming’s controller layout in Steam Deck’s Desktop Mode.
Select the Gamepad with Mouse Trackpad controller layout.
Image: Valve via Polygon

Scroll down (quite a bit) to Gamepad with Mouse Trackpad and select it. Hit B to back out of the screen.

Add some custom artwork

If you want to get really fancy, you can change the renamed Microsoft Edge’s artwork from a blank square to the official Xbox logo. Grab the images above and save them to your Steam Deck — either open this page in your Steam Deck’s Desktop Mode or drop them onto your microSD card. Make sure they save as a .png. If you use a microSD card, we recommend using the Dolphin file manager to copy the image to your desktop — it’s easier to find them this way.

Using Steam’s properties menu to change the icon.
Changing Cloud Gaming’s icon.
Image: Valve via Polygon

From the Steam Library, open the Properties for Xbox Cloud Gaming (or whatever you named it) again. Click in the empty square next to the name and navigate to wherever you dropped the file — placing it on the desktop puts it at /home/deck/Desktop/. You’re looking for the square one that ends with Icon.

Using Steam to change the banner artwork for Cloud Gaming.
Change the banner artwork, too.
Image: Valve via Polygon

Back in the Steam Library, click on the Xbox Cloud Gaming entry to open it. Right-click where a banner image should be and pick Set Custom Background. Pick the Banner image (the wide landscape one).

Changing Cloud Gaming’s tile artwork within Steam in Desktop Mode.
And, finally, change the tile’s artwork.
Image: Valve via Polygon

Right-click the banner area again and, this time, pick Set Custom Icon and pick the Capsule image (the portrait one).

Return to Gaming Mode and sign in to Xbox Game Pass

The Steam Deck’s Desktop Mode’s desktop with an icon to Return to Gaming Mode highlighted.
Use the shortcut on the desktop to return to Gaming Mode.
Image: Valve via Polygon

Now you can close everything and use the icon on the desktop to return to Gaming Mode.

In your Library, tab over to Non-Steam Games at the right end to launch your new Cloud Gaming shortcut. This will bring you to the login screen for Game Pass. Use the D-pad or just tap the button to Sign In. Press Steam + X again to pull up the keyboard.

Once you’re signed in, you’ll be greeted with the Xbox Cloud Gaming page — everything we set up earlier turned the version of Microsoft Edge we downloaded into a dedicated (kiosk) way to deliver this webpage. Use the controls to scroll around, pick a game, and get playing.

Playing with Cloud Gaming does mean you’ll need a decent and constant WiFi connection — you’re not going to be cloud gaming on the go without a hotspot (which is possible, actually).

A screenshot of Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga showing some video artifacting in the floor reflections.
You might experience some lag and artifacting
Image: TT Games/WB Games/Disney/Lucasfilm Games via Polygon

Our experience streaming games was mostly perfect, but not quite. There were periodically some video lag issues, but they resolved themselves within a second or two. The lag might depend on the game you’re playing, though. It was more common while we were playing something a little more resource-intensive like Cities: Skylines than it was with Lego Star Wars (there was still some artifacting, though).

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