Steve McNeil spends more time setting up his shiny new Steam Deck than playing games. And he loves it.
Last month, I succumbed to temptation and bought a Steam Deck. I had earmarked the money to pay my dentist to get me legally off my face when I had a wisdom tooth out, but when my anaesthetist skipped the appointment, I decided to be brave and get a Steam Deck instead.
For the first few weeks, I mainly used it to blow money on Steam sales, but then, finally, I started to get the twitch that I should be doing more with it. Some brief research showed me how to set up Microsoft Game Pass on it and… it works! There’s no official app as such but, if you follow Microsoft’s own workaround guide and you have a half-decent internet connection, it works a treat – even a game like Forza Horizon 5 (which becomes unplayable with any significant lag) held up more than adequately.
That being done, I wanted to get PlayStation Plus Premium working on the system too. Obviously that’s not been around for quite as long and, as a result, is far less well covered, but I can again confirm that it’s possible – with the caveat that no one seems to have created a controller map that replicated the PS4 controller’s touchpad, so PS4 games that have mandatory uses for that aren’t really workable. That said, most are still fine without it, and PS1/2/3 titles on it run as smoothly as the Game Pass stuff.
Hopefully it won’t be too long before the touchpad issue is dealt with by a proactive nerd. Indeed, a solution for the mapping does exist from the creators of chiaki4deck, which connects your Deck to PS Remote Play, allowing you to use your PlayStation through your Steam Deck if it’s on the same network as you. There’s also the equivalent for Xbox Cloud Gaming. Basically, if you can set aside half a day or so, you can have your Steam Deck set up to access the Microsoft Game Pass and PlayStation Plus Premium games libraries, as well as giving you remote play access to your purchased game libraries on Xbox One/S/X or PlayStation 4/5 when you’re at home.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a country where emulation is allowable*, there’s even an incredible tool, EmuDeck, which will take almost all the faff out of setting up almost any historic gaming system. Whether that’s a (loop) hole you’re inclined to fall down or not though, the point stands – if you have legally obtained historic gaming libraries, or subscriptions that grant you access to them, the Steam Deck can be an incredible way to exponentially widen the choices available to you in the palm of your hand for no additional cost.
Of course, as a result, I’ve spent almost all my time on the Steam Deck installing games systems rather than playing games but, honestly, I’ve loved every second. And anyway, now that Midnight Suns has finally launched, I can finally get back to playing a PC game.