Skip to main content

The Steam Deck’s ‘verified games’ process is very confusing

Over the past weekend, I had my first moment of natural bliss with my Steam Deck. I was sitting around bored on a Saturday and remembered that I’d been meaning to play Strange Horticulture, an murder-mystery game about running a plant shop. The only problem is that it’s exclusive to PC at the moment and I simply wanted to lay on my couch and relax. That’s when I remembered I now had a Steam Deck.

I booted the system up and found the game on the Steam store, keeping my fingers crossed that it had been verified for the device. Sure enough, I found some friendly green text on the game’s store page, letting me know it would work just fine as a handheld game. I was ecstatic as I bought the game on the device itself and cozied up on my couch as it downloaded. What a future I was living in!

Unfortunately, my utopian gaming moment quickly got a dose of reality. While the game ran smoothly on Steam Deck, it certainly hadn’t been optimized for it. That made me realize that Valve’s game verification process might not be as useful as it seems yet.

A strange process

In Strange Horticulture, players run a plant shop while trying to solve an occult mystery. The core gameplay loop is that customers request specific plants and players need to correctly identify it from rows of unlabeled plants. To do so, they’ll have a few tools, like a plant guide with a page detailing each one’s properties. Once a plant has been identified correctly, players can attach a label to it and type in the correct name. On top of all that, there’s a puzzle element where players find locations on a map using a set of letters and clues they receive through the game.

It’s a fantastic deduction game, but one I wish I hadn’t played on Steam Deck. The text is ridiculously tiny across the board when viewed on a s7-inch screen. I had to squint to see location names on the map or read tiny dialogue options. The Steam Deck’s keyboard is so cumbersome that typing out plant names took three times as long on the handheld as it would have on a PC. Luckily, the game features an “auto-label” option, though using it takes away some of the satisfaction and limits how players can create labels.

A table filled with papers in Strange Horticulture.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s clear that the game hasn’t been optimized for Steam Deck, but what baffles me is why it received verified status while some other games I’ve played have a second-tier “playable” label instead. Shadow of the Tomb Raider runs especially smooth on the device. It aced its benchmark test when I ran it and was generally a natural experience in handheld mode. Even so, it has a yellow label indicating that the game will work on the device, but may need some workarounds.

When I expand the compatibility details, I’m told the game requires use of a keyboard if I want to log into my Square Enix account. That’s more or less the only knock against it. Another note says that the game “displays compatibility warnings when running on Steam Deck, but runs fine,” which doesn’t seem like much of an issue compared to some of the issues I bumped up against in Strange Horticulture. I’m especially puzzled as to why using a keyboard to sign in to an account is a problem, but using it as a core tool in another game is fine.

The Steam Deck's UI appears on a screen.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

I’ve noticed lots of little inconsistencies with the process during my time with the device. Dicey Dungeons is perhaps the best game I’ve played on the Steam Deck in terms of how naturally it translates to a touchscreen, but it isn’t verified. A yellow note tells me it displays some PC interface during the game, but the only “issue” I see is that a small mouse appears on screen when using the touchpad. The bar seems to be a movimg target from game to game.

I understand why that would be the case. Valve has the not-so-simple task of testing an impossible number of games on its device. Naturally, its going to take time to get the process right. I just hope it evolves quickly, because I’m already feeling skittish about buying games with the intention of playing them on a portable. Even if they’re verified, they might not be an ideal experience.

Editors' Recommendations

Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
WWE’s Xavier Woods has an ‘amazing’ Steam Deck travel hack
Xavier Woods stares menacingly during WWE Raw.

Looking for a new way to soup up your Steam Deck? WWE superstar Xavier Woods has a unique portable setup you might want to try.

Ahead of this weekend’s Wrestlemania XL, WWE Superstars gathered in Philadelphia for a week of fan activities. That included a WWE 2K24 tournament hosted by Woods, a member of the decorated tag team The New Day and host of the YouTube gaming channel UpUpDownDown. Ahead of the tournament, I chatted with Woods backstage about how he’s able to keep up with new games while constantly traveling. He revealed his ingenious Steam Deck hack that’s worth trying out.

Read more
Xbox Game Pass gets its first Activision Blizzard game very soon
xbox game pass march games diablo 4 iv

Microsoft unveiled the batch of titles coming to its gaming subscription service throughout the back half of March. Quite a few awesome titles are making their way to the service, but by far, the most notable addition is Diablo IV, the first Activision Blizzard game being made available on Xbox Game Pass.

Diablo IV was released in June 2023, just a few months before Microsoft completed its acquisition of Activision Blizzard. It's the latest entry in a long-running isometric RPG series, and it retains the same engaging dungeon design, deep progression systems, and captivating loot loop that makes games in this franchise special. People have been wondering when Activision Blizzard games would arrive on Xbox Game Pass in the months since the acquisition process was completed, and Diablo IV was finally confirmed to be coming to the service on March 28 last month.

Read more
The Steam Deck OLED needs burn-in protection
The Steam Deck OLED sitting in a case.

The Steam Deck OLED is starting to show burn-in issues.

YouTuber Wulff Den released a report on the Steam Deck OLED, showing it suffered from OLED burn-in after 1,500 hours of screen time. This isn't the first time we've seen a torture test on the Steam Deck OLED, but Wulff Den's experiment is particularly potent. The YouTuber was among the only people to put the Nintendo Switch OLED to the test on the burn-in front, and the consistent updates over the course of two years remain some of the most-viewed videos on the channel.

Read more