Valve Software will introduce a new system for games on its digital storefront Steam. With Deck Verified, users can tell “at-a-glance” what games in their library are compatible with Valve’s upcoming portable gaming PC, the Steam Deck.
At time of writing, at noon PT on Oct. 18, there are 59,709 applications available on Steam, most of which are video games. (Your particular Steam account may show fewer, if you’ve got any particular content categories blocked in your preferences menu.) Valve intends to go through the entire Steam library and assign each game to a particular category based upon how it works on the Steam Deck.
These categories are currently only meant to indicate whether or not a given game works on the Deck. Games will be given one of four labels: Verified, Playable, Unsupported, or Unknown, depending on Valve’s evaluation.
Verified games will immediately work as intended on Steam Deck, while Playable games will run but may require some degree of “manual tweaking” by the user beforehand.
That tweaking might involve naming a character with the onscreen keyboard, adjusting graphics settings, or touchscreen navigation, with Valve providing its own Team Fortress 2 as an example. This is suggestive that the Playable category will include MMORPGs, community-focused games, and anything that requires additional user registration.
An Unsupported game won’t be playable on the Deck at all. This might be due to requiring additional hardware like a virtual-reality headset (i.e. Valve’s Half-Life: Alyx), or a game might not currently be compatible with the Proton compatibility layer that lets Windows games run on the Steam Deck’s Linux-based OS. Finally, games listed as Unknown have yet to be evaluated by Valve.
Notably, the Deck Verified categories don’t include any kind of critical component. There are likely going to be plenty of games which run perfectly well on the Deck, but aren’t built for a 7-inch screen or a handheld control scheme.
Trying to play this year’s The Ascent on a Deck at Valve’s office, for example, was difficult due to its small screen, and I can’t imagine any real-time strategy games like Total War working well on a Deck in portable mode. Of course, you can still hook the Deck up to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to play those games in desktop mode.
The effort to categorize the Steam library for Deck compatibility is also interesting in that it represents the single most sustained audit of the Steam library that Valve has ever publically conducted.
Valve generally leaves content moderation on Steam up to its users, which is why occasional scam games or bad ideas make it all the way to market on the platform. It’s hard to imagine that it’s going to make it through the Deck Verified categorization process without finding a few releases that it would prefer not be on Steam.