How to Fix Steam Deck not Launching Games

If you experience Steam Deck not launching games issue, it could be due to a temporary software glitch with Steam Deck, outdated firmware, the game not being verified to run, or corrupted game files. To resolve this issue, Steam Deck users will need to try several troubleshooting steps.

Steam Deck is portable handheld device created by Valve. Steam Deck is a portable gaming device that enables you to play games from your Steam library on the go. It is comparable in size and design to a Nintendo Switch and features a built-in display, joystick, and buttons. It operates on SteamOS, a free Linux-based operating system, and is meant to be used also with an external monitor. The device is compact, lightweight, and allows you to bring your Steam games with you wherever you go.

Steam Deck Technical Specifications

Processor:

AMD APU
CPU: Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz (up to 448 GFlops FP32)
GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz (up to 1.6 TFlops FP32)
APU power: 4-15W

RAM: 16 GB LPDDR5 on-board RAM (5500 MT/s quad 32-bit channels)

Storage:

64 GB eMMC (PCIe Gen 2 x1)
256 GB NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4 or PCIe Gen 3 x2*)
512 GB high-speed NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4 or PCIe Gen 3 x2*)

Resolution: 1280 x 800px (16:10 aspect ratio)

Display size: 7″ diagonal

Brightness: 400 nits typical

Refresh rate: 60Hz

Touch enabled: Yes

Sensors: Ambient light sensor

Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0 (support for controllers, accessories and audio)

Wi-Fi: Dual-band Wi-Fi radio, 2.4GHz and 5GHz, 2 x 2 MIMO, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac

Channels: Stereo with embedded DSP for an immersive listening experience

Microphones: Dual microphone array

Headphone / mic jack: 3.5mm stereo headphone / headset jack

Digital: Multichannel audio via DisplayPort over USB-C, standard USB-C, or Bluetooth 5.0

Input: 45W USB Type-C PD3.0 power supply

Battery: 40Whr batteries. 2 – 8 hours of gameplay

microSD: UHS-I supports SD, SDXC and SDHC

External connectivity for controllers & displays: USB-C with DisplayPort 1.4 Alt-mode support; up to 8K @60Hz or 4K @120Hz, USB 3.2 Gen 2

Fix Steam Deck not launching games

How to Fix Steam Deck not Launching Games

One problem that users may encounter when playing gaming sessions on Steam Deck is that the PC game won’t start or launch on your device, resulting in no action or response when attempting to launch the game. This can be a frustrating experience, particularly when wanting to play a specific game.

Here’s the troubleshooting guide on how to fix Steam Deck not launching games.

Fix #1 Check if the game is verified to run on Steam Deck

To ensure the game you’re trying to play will launch on Steam Deck, confirm that it is verified for compatibility with the device. If the game is not verified, it may not be compatible with Steam Deck, resulting in the launching issue. While many games can run seamlessly on Steam Deck, others may not function as smoothly as they would on a desktop PC. Verify that the PC games you’re attempting to play is confirmed to be playable on Steam Deck.

Fix #2 Restart Steam Deck

You can resolve a temporary glitch and refresh the Steam Deck’s system by restarting the device. If your Steam Deck is powered on but the game won’t launch, you can force a restart by holding down the power button for 10 seconds.

Fix #3 Check Micro SD

Another potential cause of the game launch issue could be the microSD card. Try removing the microSD card from your Steam Deck and running a game from the internal storage instead. If the launch issue does not occur when using the internal storage, it is likely that the microSD card is causing the problem. Make sure to use a genuine microSD A2 to avoid any performance issues with the games.

Fix #4 Latest version of software updates for Steam Deck

If you’ve tried the above steps and your Steam Deck games still won’t launch, the next step you can take is to make the device up to date. The issue may be caused by an outdated firmware version on your Steam Deck. Try updating SteamOS to the latest version to see if it resolves the launch issue. Make sure you have a stable internet connection.

Updating Steam Deck

Step 1: On your Steam Deck, press the Steam Button.

Step 2: Go to Settings.

Step 3: Go to System.

Step 4: Check for any Software Update.

Step 5: Restart Steam Deck.

Fix #5 Change Proton Version

Steam Deck users can change the proton version for certain games or other games. Proton allows the Steam Deck to play Windows games without the need for additional configuration. However, in some cases, adjustments may be necessary. Wine is a compatibility layer that allows Linux and Windows software to work together by emulating a Windows environment. Proton is a customized version of Wine. Try changing the Proton version to see if it resolves the issue.

Changing Proton Version

Step 1: Go to game settings.

Step 2: Select Properties.

Step 3: Go to Compatibility tab.

Step 4: Select the Proton Version.

Fix #6 Verify Integrity of Game Files

If the game launch issue is caused by missing or corrupted files, you can use Steam’s “Verify Integrity of Game Files” option to check for issues with the game in question. When you select this option, Steam will check the game files for any problems and attempt to fix them.

Verifying Integrity of Game Files

Step 1: Press the Steam Button.

Step 2: Go to the Library section of Steam Deck.

Step 3: Select the Game.

Step 4: Press the three line button of your Steam Deck.

Step 5: Select Properties.

Step 6: Select Local Files.

Step 7: Select Verify integrity of game files.

Fix #7 Factory Reset

If none of the games on your Steam Deck will launch, a factory reset may be a solution. If you are able to navigate and press the buttons on your Steam Deck, this can be done. If not, you will need to follow the next instructions provided.

Factory Resetting Steam Deck

Step 1: On your Steam Deck, press Steam.

Step 2: Go to System tab.

Step 3: Scroll down and select Factory Reset.

Fix #8 Reimage SteamOS

If you are still experiencing game launch issues on your Steam Deck despite trying the above steps, initiating a reimage of the device may be the next course of action. Some Steam Deck users have reported that this finally resolved their issue.

Step 1: Download the recovery image on Steam. (Make Sure it is the latest version)

Step 2: Prepare a USB key (8GB minimum)

  • On Windows use the Rufus utility. Select the recovery file and write it to your USB.
  • On MacOS you can use Balena Etcher to write the recovery file to your USB drive.
  • On Linux you can also use Balena Etcher to write the recovery file to your USB drive – or from the command line:
    bzcat steamdeck-recovery-4.img.bz2 | dd if=/dev/stdin of=/dev/sdX oflag=sync status=progress bs=128M(set /dev/sdX to the USB device you inserted)

Step 3: Use a USB-C adapter or hub to plug the boot disk in.

Step 4: If it isn’t turned off already, turn off your device. In order to enter the Boot Manager, hold down the Volume Down button while pressing the Power button. When the chime sounds, release the Volume Down button.

Step 5: In the Boot Manager, boot from the ‘EFI USB Device’.

Step 6: Once the Steam booted you can choose recovery options for Steam deck.

Re-image Steam Deck – Performs factory reset

Clear local user data – Reformats the home partitions

Reinstall Steam OS – This will reinstall SteamOS

Recovery tools – Make changes to the Steam Deck boot partition.

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Carl

Carl has been a tech writer since he started college. He loves writing about technology and he loves talking about it, too. He has been writing for online publications for years and he enjoys writing articles that can help out his readers. He is an avid gamer and his current favorite game is Valorant.

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