Steam Deck compatibility could be about to take a huge leap forward

The mind behind the Proton-GE and Wine-GE tools for Steam Deck is turning their attention to game support outside of Valve's launcher.

Steam Deck Compatability changes coming

If you love how easy it is to use a Steam Deck but feel slighted that running games from other storefronts is anything but straightforward, a big change is coming that you’ll want to keep an eye on. The creator of Proton-GEis now turning their attention to general compatibility outside of Valve’s ecosystem.

The best Steam Deck games are those that perform the best on Valve’s portable powerhouse. Despite this, not all of these games run well natively, and the Proton-GE compatibility tool is an ever-present lifesaver as most Steam Deck owners already know.

While Proton-GE isn’t the only product from Glorious Eggroll (see where the GE comes from now?), the Wine-GE compatibility tool is also effectively being sunsetted in favor of a new universal solution. While they are yet to confirm that the latest Proton-GE release is the last, they have made it clear that the end is in sight.

Unified Linux Wine Game Launcher – or ULWGL for short – will aim to take everything that has made running Windows games on Steam Deck so easy and apply it to games outside of Valve’s launcher. It is a collaborative effort between Glorious Eggroll and the developers of Litrus, Bottles, and Heroic.

This tool will take the Steam Linux runtime tools and make modifications to allow them to be used outside of Steam. It’s in the proof-of-concept stage at the moment, with no timescales given for an initial launch.

The reason this is so exciting is because it opens up the possibility for players to look to multiple marketplaces for their games once again, without the fear that performance would be hampered just because a game isn’t purchased on Steam.

The Heroic launcher already brings Epic, GOG, and Prime Gaming to the Steam Deck in desktop mode and allows you to download either Wine-GE or Proton-GE tools to aid performance, but it’s a much more drawn-out process compared to Steam.

The process for ULWGL will be far more streamlined. When you launch a game, the ULWGL database and game communicate, passing over the required game ID, identifying the required compatibility tools, and then installing the required scripts, depending on which launcher you are using.

Once it’s ready, ULWGL could change compatibility on Steam Deck forever, and while there will be limitations on what it can do, bringing choice back to players is a huge outcome if it succeeds.

As one of the best handheld gaming PCs, the Steam Deck OLED is an impressive tool for gaming on the go, but devices like the ROG Ally and Lenovo Legion Go put up a good fight, and you can check out reviews we have for them before you make a purchase.