We knew from the start that Valve’s $400 Steam Deck portable wouldn’t be able to play every Steam game flawlessly right out of the box. It uses the Proton compatibility layer to run Windows games on Linux, and some of the most popular titles on Steam employ anti-cheat software that hasn’t worked with Proton in the past. However, Valve announced on Friday that this should no longer be an issue for BattlEye, one of the most popular anti-cheat vendors.
“BattlEye on Proton integration has progressed to the point where a developer only has to contact BattlEye to have it enabled for their title.” Apart from that communication, the developer is not needed to do any extra work,” Valve says, noting that Mount & Blade II Bannerlord and Ark: Survival Evolved are currently available.
To put it another way, a single email should enough to make some of the most popular unsupported titles playable on Steam Deck at a basic level — though creators will undoubtedly want to make things gamepad and touchscreen compatible to earn Valve’s official “certified” checkmark.
So, what does this imply for the most popular BattlEye titles, such as DayZ, PUBG, and Rainbow Six Siege, which don’t presently operate on Steam Deck? Will Ubisoft, Krafton, or Bohemia Interactive write those straightforward emails? It’s not looking good: they didn’t answer to our requests for comment today, and when we asked key Steam developers about the Steam Deck last month, they declined to comment.
By the way, BattlEye isn’t the only one that supports Proton on behalf of the Steam Deck. Easy Anti-Cheat (EAC) now supports Linux, as we reported in September, with Epic Games claiming that activation should take “only a few clicks through the Epic Online Services Developer Portal.”
Top game creators, on the other hand, are hesitant to express their support for whatever reason. Despite the “only a few clicks” guarantee, just four out of 15 firms we contacted said yes – and EAC owner Epic Games was not one among them. Epic has refused to commit its subsidiary Mediatonic’s Fall Guys (which utilizes EAC) to Steam Deck, and has previously failed to comment on whether Fortnite (which uses BattlEye) will be accessible on the platform as well.
While Sony hasn’t said if its increasing portfolio of PC games would support the Steam Deck, PlayStation exec Shuhei Yoshida did say that Horizon: Zero Dawn operates on the device. The ProtonDB community, which presently rates Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition as “Gold,” isn’t surprised by this.
The Steam Deck is expected to ship to the first wave of early adopters in December, however many preordered handhelds will not arrive until Q1 2022 or later. If you place a reservation now, Valve estimates that you won’t get one until the second quarter of 2022.