Steam Deck, Valve’s mega-powerful mini-PC, only arrived last year, and while there are many reasons to check out one of the most exciting pieces of gaming hardware available today, the amount of great, hassle-free games available on the device is proof enough of its success.
But Steam is a big marketplace, and not every game works well on the Deck. While many hit games do run well on the device, some won’t launch, while others will have you chasing through various settings and scrolling forums and Reddit posts for solutions. Fun for the tech enthusiast, but not ideal when you just want a great gaming experience. Valve has made the process easier by labeling certain games “Verified” on the device, but sometimes that’s not always a guarantee that a game will run without issue.
Read More: The Steam Deck Had A Phenomenal First Year
Worry not, this list will guide you to the best experiences you can have in year one of the Steam Deck’s life. All but one of these games are Deck-verified. They work great on the first boot. That said, adjusting a few settings here and there might make a given game experience even better for you, so I’ll call that out where relevant. Tweaking the visual settings…can’t do that on a Switch!
As you may know, there are relatively simple ways to get non-Steam games running on the Deck, but those we’ll handle another time. This list is focused on great games you’re guaranteed to have access to right out of the box.
Update 7/26/2023: Now that we’re more than halfway through 2023, we thought it was time to call out some more must-plays for your Steam Deck. 2023 in particular saw the release of two great remakes of classic horror games, and we also added a couple older games that were frankly overdue on this list of must-play Steam Deck experiences.
Update 12/27/2022: Wrapping up 2022, we’ve now bumped this list up to 20 amazing games you can play on the Steam Deck now. To hit this number we had to bend a rule: We now have two games that are technically not “Deck Verified,” but are still totally playable.
Update 10/21/2022: The Steam Deck’s library keeps growing, and so too does this list! I’ve added five new games to the main list and one new honorable mention. Nearly all of these games are Deck-verified, but I’ve made an exception for one particular title.