The Steam Deck’s viability as an all-in-one portable gaming machine just became stronger, as it now formally supports a one-click option to get any web-based cloud gaming service working—including Stadia and Xbox Cloud Gaming.
While the Deck comes with both Firefox and Chrome preinstalled, this update does not work with either of those browsers. Rather, Steam Deck owners will need to install and configure the latest Linux beta of Microsoft Edge. Yes, Linux users, Microsoft has come to your rescue.
The process, as detailed on the official Microsoft Edge Reddit community, requires jumping through a few hoops in the Deck’s Arch Linux environment, but it’s a mostly painless way to get a web browser to recognize and translate the Steam Deck’s buttons, triggers, and joysticks as video game input—something the other browsers haven’t gotten around to yet.
As a result, Deck owners can expect one-click access to the Xbox Cloud Gaming library, which beams over 200 games from Xbox Series X server blades to any compatible web browser on a computer with a gamepad connected. Even better, this method unlocks the same functionality for any rival service that streams games from the cloud to a web browser. That includes Google Stadia, which performs marvelously.
A flatpak, a Konsole, and a command line parameter walk into a bar
Interested cloud-streaming fans should start by loading the Steam Deck’s default desktop interface and then visiting the KDE Plasma “Discover” tab. As I explained in my Steam Deck Linux article last month, adding more apps to the Deck’s gated version of Arch Linux requires the installation of “flatpak” files since these can operate in their own sandbox outside of the Deck’s primary sector, which is read-only for anything but built-in apps. This Discover tab is a much more user-friendly way to find and discover formally signed flatpak files than using the built-in Linux Konsole, though that’s an option as well.
From there, pick Discover’s “Internet” category, then “web browsers,” and Microsoft Edge Beta will appear. (Or type “Microsoft Edge,” without “beta,” in its search box.) Once this is installed, Microsoft suggests entering this command into the Linux Konsole, which will require a connected physical keyboard or an installed keyboard app.
flatpak --user override --filesystem=/run/udev:ro com.microsoft.Edge
Microsoft’s Reddit guide details the rest of the steps, which are similar to getting third-party apps like Discord or VLC working in the default “SteamOS” interface. In particular, Microsoft suggests changing parameters for Edge in the Deck’s default gaming interface to max out its browsing window and put all the focus on the cloud-gaming site you’ll be visiting so the Deck’s gamepad buttons don’t inadvertently trigger something like the address bar. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft’s guide suggests putting “xbox.com/play” as the default URL.
Go through this process and Edge will do something that the Steam Deck has lacked thus far: translate button taps to a web browser so that they’re recognized as coming from a gamepad. Up until today, Steam Deck owners could boot a web browser in the Deck’s gaming mode, only to find that button reassignments in the Deck’s control menus didn’t act like they were in a video game. “No controller found,” the browser-based streaming service would say, despite users tapping joysticks and buttons that feel very controller-like.