Valve's Strict Steam Deck Verification Rules Can Lead To False Negatives And That's Just Fine

Upper right corner of the Steam Deck on a purple gradient background
Valve continues to make headway on putting games through its Steam Deck verification program, and the number of titles that have earned Verified or Playable designations has quickly grown to over 1,000 games. What Valve is doing here is remarkable on a number of levels, the speed at which it's verifying games being one of them. But that only scratches the surface.

For the Steam Deck to ultimately succeed, it needs games to run as advertised on the console. Valve made some big promises, and while there are the expected hiccups that come with a first-generation product (UI quirks and the such), the overall consensus is that Valve has a genuine hit on its hands. Heck, Gabe Newell already basically confirmed Valve is planning a more powerful Steam Deck 2 at some point (this isn't a one and done affair).

Given what's at stake, the temptation might be high to push through games as Verified or Playable that might fall just a hair short of the necessary requirements. Instead, Valve is erring on the side of caution, and that's absolutely the right move in our opinion.

Holding a Steam Deck console and playing a game
"Our existing standards for titles to get a Verified or a Playable rating are very high. If a game shows controller glyphs 99% of the time but tells you to 'press F' sometimes during gameplay, that's Playable, not Verified. If 99% of a game's functionality is accessible, but accessing one optional in-game minigame crashes, or one tutorial video doesn't render, that's Unsupported," Valve explains in a blog post.

Valve goes on to say that this is by design, because gamers and the Steam Deck's reputation are both better served by taking such a strict approach, at least initially.

"Around the launch timeframe, we believed it was more valuable to prevent false positives ('this game is Verified but part of it doesn't work'), even at the cost of some appearance of false negatives ('this game is Unsupported but I didn't notice anything wrong with it')," Valve added.

That's a refreshing take, and it's all about building trust and making sure the user experience aligns with the hype. The downside is that games might be deemed Unsupported even if the fail point is not something most people would ever notice. Even so, Valve says it and its partners are making fast improvements that should see a lot more Unsupported titles transition to Playable or even Verified within the next few weeks.

Steam Deck Compatibility screenshot
In the meantime, Valve has rolled out a new feature to enable developers to relay status updates to players, by letting them plop links to their Community Page in the compatibility details section of a game.

"You can see an example of this on Rimworld, where their Playable compatibility details include a direct link to their blog post outlining the work they are doing to make Rimworld work better on Steam Deck," Valve says.

Good stuff. And in case you missed our previous coverage, you can quickly check which of your Steam games are compatible with the Steam Deck, whether you own the console or not. You may want to check back often, considering how fast the list has grown to over 1,000 games and continues to expand.