One of the services that gamers most wish to see on the Steam Deck is Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass, which offers a large library of games for a single monthly fee. Because it's so deeply embedded in the Windows OS, the conventional Game Pass app doesn't work (yet). However, owing to some backend work by Microsoft, the cloud streaming version of Game Pass, known as Xbox Cloud Gaming, now works.
The cloud version of Game Pass is installed by switching to the Stream Deck's desktop view and using a web browser. Almost everything about the Steam Deck necessitates some sort of tinkering. That's one of the reasons the system appeals to PC players, who frequently find troubleshooting and tweaking PC games to be part of the fun.
Here are the simple steps to set up Steam Deck to play Xbox Game Pass Cloud Games:
- Open the Steam Deck's desktop mode.
- Install the Microsoft Edge Beta by using the Discover app.
- Add the Edge browser to Steam by right-clicking on its launch icon and selecting Add to Steam.
- Launch the Konsole app in SteamOS (Applications > System > Konsole) and add this command: flatpak --user override --filesystem=/run/udev:ro com.microsoft.Edge
- Open Steam (still in Desktop mode), find the Microsoft Edge Beta in your Steam games list.
- Right-click on it and select: Properties > Launch Options. In that launch options field, add this text to the end of the string already there: --window-size=1024,640 --force-device-scale-factor=1.25 --device-scale-factor=1.25 --kiosk "https://www.xbox.com/play"
- When you run the browser via Steam, it will take you to the Game Pass cloud gaming website and force it into fullscreen mode.
- Leave desktop mode and return to the SteamOS interface after that.
- The Microsoft Edge Beta can be found in your library under Non-Steam Apps.
- You'll be taken to the Game Pass cloud gaming interface, where you can access games directly.
- Other adjustments, such as changing the shortcut ("Game Pass" rather than Microsoft Edge, for example) or adding custom thumbnail graphics, will help you have a cleaner experience.
- I got started thanks to a Reddit thread, but Microsoft has more thorough instructions here.
It takes some effort to set up, but having access to a big library of streaming games is well worth it. While playing games that are natively loaded on the Steam Deck will deliver the greatest overall experience, adding games from Epic, GOG, Game Pass, and other platforms emphasizes the concept that the Steam Deck is more of a PC than a standalone gaming device like the Nintendo Switch.