Can Steam Deck Play Nintendo Switch Games?

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By Ruben Circelli | More Articles Tech & Games Editor, Manager of Tech Section Longtime tech & games writer. Former Tencent gaming analyst.
August 20, 2021  11:44 AM

With the announcement of the Steam Deck, Valve is positioning this new device and console and PC alike, capable of playing PC and console games, no problem. But many gamers wonder if it’s a PC, can it play Nintendo games? And better yet, can it play Switch games?

Can Steam Deck Play Nintendo Games?

Officially, probably not. This is only a ‘probably not’ because Windows 11 is set to natively support Android applications, and if the Steam Deck can run Windows 11, running Nintendo’s mobile games is entirely possible on the device.

However, while through official means there isn’t much to speak of, since the Steam Deck can run Windows 10, it can run any number of the many, many emulators out there that support games on Nintendo platforms throughout history from the NES to the Wii U and everything in-between.

Considering how low-powered most of Nintendo’s platforms are today, running these emulators on Deck should be a breeze, and with a little configuring, you’ll be able to play all your favorite classic Nintendo games on Deck.

Can Steam Deck Play Nintendo Switch Games?

Officially, absolutely not. Even unofficially, the Yuzu Switch emulator, while making awesome progress, isn’t anywhere near done with development, and performance isn’t very stable on most games right now. Though this will undoubtedly change in time and the situation will improve.

Though with an emulator like Cemu, you can play Breath of the Wild on Steam Deck, and you’ll likely be able to play it at considerably higher resolutions and framerates, and with mods if you’d like, on Steam Deck than you could on Switch. 

While Breath of the Wild is, indeed, a Switch game, the game was also released on Wii U, and the Wii U emulator Cemu has come far over the course of its development. Thus, this particular game is entirely possible to play on Steam Deck. Though, it’s not yet the norm for Switch games in general.

Related: Is Minecraft Getting a Next-Gen, PS5, or Series X Update?

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