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How to Use the Xbox Game Pass on the Handheld


Released nearly three months ago, Valve’s Steam Deck was met with an overwhelmingly positive reception. Many have compared the device’s capabilities and appearance to that of the Nintendo Switch, often recognizing it as the first true hybrid handheld gaming console. While the initial selection of fully supported games may not have appealed to the most hardcore of gamers, Valve retained an open mind, pushing updates that continuously increased the unit’s performance alongside the number of playable titles. The only thing missing from the equation was the availability of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass, which made gamers wonder if and how they could use it.

The operating system that makes Valve’s idea of portable PC gaming possible is better known as SteamOS. Users who have interacted with its interface in Desktop mode may have noticed an uncanny resemblance to Windows. While its familiar layout ensures that the time spent browsing the Steam Deck for additional options is minimal, the operating system’s efficacy can be attributed to a modified version of Linux, which uses a compatibility layer called Proton. Although it comes packed with all the necessary tools that allow many Windows-based applications to run smoothly, the likes of Xbox Cloud Gaming are yet to be fully addressed. Fortunately, Microsoft has found a viable workaround.

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Since the Steam Deck does not have a native Xbox application, gamers need to tinker with the device’s settings to make the xCloud service work via Microsoft Edge. The first step of the process pertains to launching the Desktop mode, which can be done either by holding down the power button or accessing it through the Power Settings menu. Once on Desktop, navigating the icon bar and selecting Discover Software Center will reveal a new set of options. Choosing Applications will allow the gamers to access various browsers through the Internet and Web Browsers subcategory, where they should look for a beta version of Microsoft Edge.

After installing the browser, the next step is to navigate the Application Launcher from the Desktop to locate Microsoft Edge within the dedicated Internet section. By right-clicking its icon, a new window will pop up, from which the gamers can add the browser to Steam. Once they have highlighted Microsoft Edge and confirmed their choice via “Add Selected Programs,” they should return to the Application Launcher and peruse the System menu to run Konsole.

Because Microsoft Edge cannot utilize the device’s controls without udev, its access needs to be overridden. Much like executing commands in Windows Command Prompt, typing “flatpak –user override –filesystem=/run/udev:ro com.microsoft.Edge” and hitting the Enter key will grant the browser the access it needs to operate within the SteamOS environment. Afterward, launching Steam from the Desktop will let the gamers finalize the process of turning Microsoft Edge into a functional Xbox Cloud Gaming application.

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Steam’s Library tab should feature a Microsoft Edge icon once the gamers have followed the previous steps. Right-clicking on it and selecting Properties will take them to a new window, where they can rename the shortcut and update the icon before appending the following to the LAUNCH OPTIONS field: –window-size=1024,640 –force-device-scale-factor=1.25 –device-scale-factor=1.25 –kiosk “https://www.xbox.com/play.” As adjusting the controller layout is highly recommended, the last step involves changing it to Gamepad with Mouse Trackpad, which can be done by accessing the Manage menu after right-clicking the renamed browser icon nested in the Library tab.

Upon returning to the Gaming mode, Microsoft’s xCloud service should be readily available on the Steam Deck. Due to SteamOS’ anti-cheat coding, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers will not be able to play every exclusive title, but they can rest assured that at least several hundred are operational. If gamers are not overly keen on upgrading their base subscription to benefit from Steam Deck’s portability, but would still like to make the most of it, they can now use the same method to access Fortnite as well.

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