Valve’s Steam Deck is adept at running everything from indie games like Tunic to power-hungry AAA titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and Elden Ring. But it’s rapidly becoming known for another strength: its ability to emulate a vast range of retro and current consoles, from the Atari 2600 all the way up to the Nintendo Switch. Getting everything set up to do that, however, can be a lengthy and arduous process. And that’s something a brand new app called EmuDeck aims to make much easier.
Software Designed FOR Steam Deck
It’s exciting to see the emergence of purpose-built software developed explicitly for the Steam Deck hardware! The beauty of this app, though, is that when SteamOS 3.0 releases to the public, it should be just as useful on any PC with Valve’s custom Linux distro installed.
So what exactly does EmuDeck do? It does a lot of the tedious work involved with getting every emulator core and ROM title set up and looking good.
EmuDeck automatically sets up RetroArch, including aspect ratios tailored for the Steam Deck across every emulator, AutoSave and AutoLoad states, and universal hotkeys like Pause, Fast-Forward, Quit, and others. The software automatically configures the Deck gamepad for Gamecube and Wii controllers. It even adds custom game bezels for retro systems that originally used a 4:3 aspect ratio.
EmuDeck also handles creating custom Steam collections (grouping each of your games by its original console). It even auto-configures a somewhat complex app called Steam ROM Manager, completely removing the time-consuming setup process there. That means you can jump straight into customizing each title if needed, including selecting custom game artwork and display posters.
SSD or SD Card? Choose Your EmuDeck Installer
One of EmuDeck’s best features is the installer. It comes with 2 versions to download based on where you want to store your ROMs. I prefer to run mine on a dedicated external SD card, so that’s the installer I’d choose.
YouTube channel Retro Game Corps has an exhaustive and articulate video guide (embedded above) for setting up EmuDeck. If you follow along — and provided you already have your ROM collection ready — you could be up and running with all your favorite retro emulators all tidy and organized in less than 30 minutes.
There’s also a companion 10-step guide on the EmuDeck website.
There’s clearly no stopping the Steam Deck emulation train, and hopefully apps like this will benefit the entire emulation scene once SteamOS 3.0 releases publicly. Anything to save me time and remove some pain points is seriously appreciated.