How many of you install games outside Steam on your Decks? Do you find the process easy?

I’m a hobbyist game developer myself, and I’m looking into making games especially designed for the Steam Deck. However, for freeware games, the $100 price per title on the Steam store is a bit too steep. I wish there was an easy-to-use alternative store on the Deck, but since that’s not the case, I’m wondering if it would make any sense to develop games for the Deck and publish them, for example, on Itch.io.

(As a proof of concept, I created this step-by-step guide for a hacky Steam Deck version of my old game, Soccer Physics. I think it still applies, even though it’s a year-old build/guide: https://www.ottoojala.com/soccerphysicssteamdeck/ )

  • Dark Arc@social.packetloss.gg
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    2 months ago

    Yes, though it’s increasingly rare because most game developers would rather just integrate with Steam than setup their own account and payment systems … and I can hardly blame them.

    A prime example is Andrew Gower’s new game. The dude started Jagex and RuneScape he surely could make a new account system, billing system, etc for Brighter Shores … he has all the experience necessary at a scale few developers have the experience with. He’s just opting not to and it’s surely because Steam’s offering in terms of game promotion and ease of access is unparalleled.

  • grimaferve@fedia.io
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    2 months ago

    Not a SD user, but a desktop gamer who found your post. I wouldn’t be surprised to see people on the fediverse say they often play games outside of Steam.

    The non-techy people I know treat the thing like a console and refuse to use desktop mode for games. That’s the catch of the Steam Deck. It runs Linux underneath, but most people never (want to) interact with it. I love it for what it does for Linux gaming but there’s more to PC gaming than just Steam - Although I’m aware that Steam probably underprices these with hopes to recoup the loss back on Steam purchases.

    (Also your method isn’t really hacky, that’s just kind of how binary executables work in Linux, plus the steps to add it to Steam)

    • oivoi@lemmy.mlOP
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      2 months ago

      Yes, the store works so well that I’d guess not too many people bother with the desktop mode. It also works really well for developers, as @[email protected] mentioned, with installing non-Steam games still not too hard for those who really want to, like @[email protected], so I guess there’s really no need for any change.

      I’ll probably just end up developing for devices with gamepads in general. The idea of making a game specifically for the Deck is intriguing, like maybe a shared-controller local multiplayer game, but I guess it’s better not to lock the designs too much to the Deck’s features, especially since there isn’t really a platform to showcase those kinds of games.

  • Telorand@reddthat.com
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    2 months ago

    Yep. Most are via Epic, GOG, and Amazon Games, but I’d install an itch.io game, if there was one I wanted to play.

    If you’re trying to save money, instead of using it as a way to build reputation, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal to choose a cheaper option. And if you find that it becomes popular, you can maybe consider Steam later on.

  • ShadowA
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    2 months ago

    No. I’m technical enough to figure out how, but way too lazy to bother.

  • Nibodhika@lemmy.world
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    2 months ago

    The only games I have installed outside of Steam are emulators. Even if the majority of people here tell you they have games outside of Steam, this is likely a skewed statistics because people who tinker with their deck are more likely to join a community about it. I would guess that 70/90% of people with decks have never even opened desktop mode.

    To me $100 doesn’t seem that steep, if you’re making a $5 profit with your game you only need to sell 20 extra copies for it to pay itself. If your game is specifically done for the Deck your audience is by definition on the Steam store, only a few are also outside of it.

    I’m someone who uses Linux daily, I like tweaking with my deck, but realistically I never even considered installing games outside of Steam because every game I want to play is on Steam, and I imagine that several other people who tweak with their Deck are also in the same boat.

    • oivoi@lemmy.mlOP
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      2 months ago

      As a hobbyist game dev, I don’t mind making games for a niche group of users, but I’m probably going to skip the idea of making games just for the Deck, as there isn’t really a platform for that kind of games. And in my case, I’m talking about freeware games; games that won’t be making that 5 dollar profit. But still, designing a game with the Deck especially in mind feels like a fun and fresh starting point to me :–)

      • Nibodhika@lemmy.world
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        2 months ago

        Yeah, in that case it makes sense not to put it on Steam.

        Although in your shoes I would put it on Steam for something like $5 and free on itch. Afaik Steam doesn’t mind this as long as you don’t offer a steam key for free on itch, but if you charge the same value as on Steam you can offer a key there as well, so you could do free version on itch but a minimum of $5 to get a steam key, and sell it on steam for $5. Whatever you can sell on steam is likely to surpass the $100 margin. But I can see that as a hobbyist you might not care to setup accounts for payments etc, just want to get your game out there.

        In any case I’m interested in what a game specifically designed for the Deck would look like, so please post a link when you have published it.

        • oivoi@lemmy.mlOP
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          2 months ago

          Personally, I’m just not into that solo game dev career anymore, been there done that. It’d basically require for me to start up my own business again, thanks to Finnish laws. Good point about the steam keys, hadn’t thought about those at all :–)

          I have no solid plans for a game specifically designed for the Deck yet, but I’m really into local multiplayer games, and do think a game that you play on a shared Deck might be cool. For example a game with just joystick controls - one stick for each player. My background is in making local multiplayer mobile games and I feel the same kind of games would work just fine on a Steam Deck, too, with the hardware controls adding new possibilities for designs.

  • Chris :steamdeck2:@mstdn.games
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    2 months ago

    @oivoi I have quite a few non-steam games installed. I’ve used Bottles, Lutris, and Heroic, along with EmuDeck and itch.io. I’ve also manually installed some fan games.

    Being able to switch desktop mode and use the Deck as a decent PC (when hooked to my monitor and kb&m) is one of the reasons I was interested in the Steam Deck to begin with. Though I do enjoy tinkering almost as much as I do actually playing the games.

    • oivoi@lemmy.mlOP
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      2 months ago

      I too like the fact that you can tinker with the device and make the device more personal to you, especially as the Deck is also a machine that just works, if you stick to the game mode. I feel like I get the best of two worlds.

  • Stefano Prenna@lemmy.stefanoprenna.com
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    2 months ago

    I use regularly Lutris, Bottles, ScummVM, Dosbox-X or EmulationStation. So I can play from GOG, Epic, Itch.Io or plain old games (Dos) / emulated.

    I do have many titles on Steam as well and generally I don’t look too much at whether something is verified or platinum on ProtonDB, I just avoid titles from companies like Activision, EA, Ubisoft and generally all works very easily or easy enough!

  • helenslunch@feddit.nl
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    1 month ago

    I only play games on Steam, GoG, or free games from Epic.

    GoG and Epic are very easy to install with Heroic Games Launcher.

  • Thann@lemmy.ml
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    2 months ago

    Beyond All Reason is FOSS, published on flatpak, and works great on the deck! (W/ keyboard, mouse, and monitor)

  • PerogiBoi
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    2 months ago

    I installed Sim Theme Park, Nerf Arena Blast, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, on my deck through Desktop mode and made custom key bindings for all of them.

    I run them with Proton Experimental through steam or WINE if I’m trying to play Sim Theme Park.

    Found the old .ISO files on an abandonware site and went to town!

  • Dizzy Devil Ducky@lemm.ee
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    2 months ago

    Closest I can say is installing EmuDeck on a microSD so I can emulate games on my deck. Don’t know how the process is for getting actual games outside of Steam (non-FOSS/native games outside the Discover store) working, but the process for EmuDeck is absolutely painless as you just run it, select a few things you want, and then it handles everything else.