The Proton Compatibility Layer is one of the pillars of Steam Deck because it allows you to play Windows games on SteamOS. Proton developers are always working on adding support for new games via updates. Since it’s open-source, there are other variants of Proton developed by the community that brings support for more games on SteamOS and Linux. That’s why you may want to change the Proton version on your Steam Deck.
Fortunately, changing the Proton version on Steam Deck is a piece of cake, and there are a few ways to do it. In this guide, let’s look at how to change the Proton version on Steam Deck.
Change the Proton Version on Steam Deck
There are two ways to do this — from the game settings in game mode and using a Proton manager in Desktop mode. Here’s how to do it both ways:
Change Proton Version
1. Go to your Steam library and move the highlighter to the game you want to play
2. Press the hamburger button on your Steam Deck and click Properties.
3. In the left menu, go to Compatibility.
4. Check the “Force the use of a specific Steam Play…” checkbox.
5. Select a Proton version from the drop-down menu.
6. Finally, launch your game as usual and let Steam take care of any updates and launch it for you.
Steam Deck always uses the latest Proton release version. Hence, the version that you see in this guide may not be the same based on when you’re reading this. Also, the above steps are for the per-game selection of Proton versions. We’ll later glance at how to change the Proton version of the entire system to ensure every game, by default, uses the Proton version that you select.
Switching to a different Proton version
As mentioned earlier, the official Proton from Valve is not the end of the line. Thanks to Proton being open-source, there are a few community-developed versions of Proton — one of the most popular ones is GloriousEggroll, also referred to as Proton GE or GE-Proton.
What makes GloriousEggroll special is that it’s far more bleeding edge than the official Proton project. In fact, Valve usually upstreams many features from Proton GE. Naturally, GloriousEggroll supports more games than the official Proton. If one of your games isn’t working on using official Proton, chances are, it will work using Proton GE; if not, it will start working sooner than official Proton in the upcoming days.
1. Press the Steam button > Click Power > Switch to Desktop.
2. Once in Desktop mode, open the KDE Store from the Taskbar.
3. In the store, search for ProtonUp-Qt.
4. Download and install the first result and launch it.
5. Once inside the app, click Add version.
6. From the dropdown below the Compatibility tool text, select GE-Proton. The tool will auto-select the latest available GE-Proton version.
7. Finally, click Install.
Once installed, follow the aforementioned steps to change the per-game Proton version, or follow the following steps to change the system-wide Proton version on the Steam Deck. Also, make sure your Steam Deck has ample space to accommodate the Proton package. If you’re running out of storage space on your 64 or 256GB storage variants, using an SD card is your best bet.
Change the Default Proton version of the entire SteamOS
1. Click the Steam button and go to Settings.
2. Go to System and toggle on the Enable Developer Mode switch. Restart your Steam Deck if prompted.
3. In the side menu, scroll all the way down till you see the option, Developer.
4. Scroll down, and in the Run, other titles with dropdown, select the latest GE-Proton that you recently installed.
5. Restart your Steam Deck when prompted.
If the compatibility status of the game is unknown or unsupported, your Steam Deck will now force the game to run via the GE-Proton that you’ve selected.
Proton is the Key to Linux Gaming
Linux users certainly know the efforts the entire community and Valve has put forward in making gaming on Linux a reality. Not too long ago, gamers would’ve dismissed the idea of playing games on Linux because they were not supported, but after Steam Deck’s launch, we’ve seen a lot of companies expressing their interest and wanting to bring their unsupported games to Steam Deck and Linux, thanks to Proton.
That said, there are still a lot of games that refuse to work on the official Proton. And while GE-Proton does help in that aspect, it can only do so much until the game developers get serious about Proton compatibility.