The folks over at Valve turned some heads earlier this year when they took the wraps off their handheld gaming PC, also known as the Steam Deck. An ambitious endeavor by any measure, the Steam Deck offers all the promises of dedicated desktop PC gaming with the portability of the best handheld consoles. In order to achieve that portability, some compromises had to be made. To take the guesswork out of which PC games work flawlessly with the Steam Deck, Valve is launching a new certification program where the function of each game will be tested in-house.
All games that are checked through the Deck-Verified program will be assigned one of four different tags, Verified, Playable, Unsupported, and Unknown. Games awarded the Verified tag are known to work on Valve’s handheld right out of the box. Games awarded the Playable tag work well on the Steam Deck, but may require some additional configuration, such as selection of a community controller configuration for a separate launcher to be cleared prior to launch.
Games awarded the Unsupported tag are known to be incompatible with Steam Deck. The example shown by Valve is Half-Life: Alyx. Obviously, as a game designed exclusively for VR, Alyx is a poor match for the capabilities of the Steam Deck. Finally, the Unknown tag will be assigned to titles that have yet to go through Valve’s certification process. Any software with this tag should be treated as ‘Buyer Beware’ when it comes to compatibility with the Steam Deck.
When it comes to the Verified tag, Valve will ensure that compatible games meet the following criteria:
- Input - The title should have full controller support, use appropriate controller input icons, and automatically bring up the on-screen keyboard when needed.
- Display - The game should support the default resolution of Steam Deck (1280x800 or 1280x720), have good default settings, and text should be legible.
- Seamlessness - The title shouldn’t display any compatibility warnings, and if there’s a launcher it should be navigable with a controller.
- System Support - If running through Proton, the game and all its middleware should be supported by Proton. This includes anti-cheat support.
Valve is also assuring early adopters of the Steam Deck that the Steam storefront and user library will be fully available on the Deck and in both locations, all software will be marked with these helpful compatibility indicators. The first wave of Steam Deck devices is still expected to start shipping later this December. Those interested in the various Steam Deck models can look over our pre-order guide here.
Chris Jarrard posted a new article, Valve's Deck-Verified certification tags which games work best on Steam Deck
This is good news. This should allow developers to go back and tune setting (probably not the game engine) to performance targets of the SD for a best result. Since the hardware will be fixed, for now, it should be easier to dial in what that should be for each game. Then gamers can have some level of confidence in the cert tag. It's not unlike what MS tried to do with that Windows score, but that had so many variables to try to come up with a single automated value to measure against any given game.