I’ve made it pretty clear here on The Koalition and Throwdownshow that the Steam Deck instantly turned into my go-to gaming device since its launch in 2022. So with the recent OLED release, I decided to help newcomers and others by putting together this list of my favorite apps & plug-ins that boost my gaming experience on the Steam Deck.
If you have a ROM collection and looking for a way to play them on the go with your Steam Deck, then I recommend that you check out Emudeck 2.0. This application has been around since the early months of the Steam Deck’s existence and is an absolute godsend for streamlining the process by integrating all the emulators you would need along with other useful tools into one install.
The steps are as follows:
1 – On your Steam Deck, hold down the power button until a menu appears. You will then click “Switch to Desktop”.
2- Launch Firefox which is already installed on the Steam Deck and search for Emudeck, Once on the site, scroll down and click the download button under the Steam logo next to SteamOS.
2 – Once downloaded on your Steam Deck, move the file to your desktop and execute.
There are two methods to performing the installation, one quick and the other more detailed with a deeper level of customization options. Youtuber Retro Game Corps created a fantastic walkthrough guide showing all the emulators, how to run Steam ROM manager to pacer metadata for your ROMS, and additional tweaks (see his video below).
NOTE: I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you install all Emudeck on your internal storage and NOT a micro-SD card. I had the misfortune of having a 1TB die which was fine in regards to my Steam library but horrible for all the custom work I did with my ROM collection and tools within Emudeck. Also once installed locally, you can find the install folder under DECK/Emulation.
I don’t think I’m alone in believing Decky Loader is a major driving force in helping Valve develop new features and improvements for the Steam Deck. Decky loader allows you to install useful community-created plugin-ins such as Decky Recorder which allows you to create video clips, and SteamgridDB which allows you to change every display image for your selected game (cover art, wide capsule, hero, logo, etc.). and how about a quality-of-life improvement with Screenshotuploader which does just that, upload your screenshots to the cloud because for some reason this is still not available in SteamOS.
The Decky loader install process has been simplified to just require a few clicks.
- While in desktop mode on your Steam Deck, boot up Firefox and search Decky.xyz. Once on the site, click download on the top right of the screen.
- Cut and paste the downloaded file “decky_installer.desktop” to your desktop and execute.
- A prompt will appear requesting sudo password (aka admin pw). If you don’t have one set up you can just skip and let Decky create a temp one so you can install the application. I’ve used both methods with no issues.
- Select the recommended build, install, and you’re done!
Click the “Return to gaming mode” icon on the desktop. Simply press the 3 dots menu button and you will see a new option at the bottom. It will look like a plug. Once selected you will see it’s called Decky and see two icons to the right of the name. One is for the plug-in shop (all are free) and the other gear icon allows you to check & install plug-in updates.
You will also get little notifications when there is a Decky Loader update available. Besides the above-mentioned plug-ins, the most popular one was Vibrant Deck. This allows you to change the screen color saturation via sliders. This was an amazing plug-in and now is pretty much no longer needed since Valve implemented its color sliders in SteamOS 3.5 (Steam button/Settings/Display/Adjust Display Colors).
I also want to reiterate Emudeck and Decky Loader are completely free with no ads and both are constantly receiving updates. I hope you find these apps & plug-ins helpful in expanding your Steam Deck’s abilities and overall creating a more unique gaming experience.