Steam Deck compatibility developers are now tackling non-Steam games

By mzaxazm

The unofficial expansion for the Steam Deck’s Proton compatibility layer, Proton-GE, is about to take a major new step forward in its development. Namely, one of the final Wine-GE builds of Proton has now been released according to its developers, and its next chapter is all about non-Steam game support.

GloriousEggroll, the person responsible for the continued development of Proton-GE, has just announced that they are joining forces with the developers of Lutris, Heroic, and Bottles to work on a Unified Linux Wine Game Launcher. ULWGL is a universal non-Steam game launcher that will expand the Steam Deck’s game support by a huge margin, making it way easier to run any given non-Steam title with all of the functionality that Proton-GE might afford.

Picture by Destructoid

Proton-GE developers move on to work on ULWGL

In broad terms, Proton is one of the main reasons why Valve’s Steam Deck has been as successful as it’s been. An operating system translation layer, Proton essentially allows native Windows games to run on Linux, and it is instrumental in the device’s pick-up-and-play feature set. Proton-GE builds upon Valve’s baseline version of Proton with unofficial compatibility and performance improvements. In some cases, as with Palworld, this results in substantially better performance if you install the correct version of Proton-GE. In others, the game might not even run without Proton-GE in the first place.

The reason why ULWGL is as exciting as it is, is that it will expand this functionality to virtually any non-Steam game you might play on the Deck. “ULWGL will allow you to run your non-steam games using Proton, Proton-GE, or other Proton forks using the same pressure vessel containerization and runtime that Valve use to run games with Proton,” says GloriousEggroll. “This means your games will run the exact same way as proton runs games, but outside and independant [sic] from Steam.”

After ULWGL releases, Wine-GE will be rendered obsolete, as ULWGL will include its entire feature set and beyond. “The original purpose wine-ge was created is because at the time there was no way to run non-steam games with Proton PROPERLY,” GloriousEggroll explained. “Now that ULWGL is created, it creates an almost mirrored way to run non steam games the way steam runs steam games in proton. I say almost because of course we’ve added tweaks and things like protonfixes into the mix.”

In other words, ULWGL will massively expand the Steam Deck’s functionality and ease of use, to the point that non-Steam games might actually work perfectly on the device out of the box. All the boons that Proton-GE brings will, then, be applicable to games from Epic, EA, and Ubisoft, making them that much easier to enjoy on the Deck.

Filip Galekovic

A lifetime gamer and writer, Filip has successfully made a career out of combining the two just in time for the bot-driven AI revolution to come into its own.

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