The Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch are different game consoles and use different operating systems and game libraries. However, some games are available on both platforms, and there are ways to play Nintendo Switch games on the Steam Deck, even if it’s not always easy.

how to play nintendo switch games on steam deck

Before we continue, we want to highlight an important aspect. It’s important to follow legal and ethical guidelines when playing games on different platforms and to make sure you do not violate copyrights or licensing agreements.

Do not forget that the easiest way to run Nintendo Switch games on your Steam deck is by using a Switch emulator. In this article, we’ll show you a step-by-step guide on how to use a Switch emulator to play your favorite Nintendo Switch games on Steam Deck.

How to Play Nintendo Switch Games on Steam Deck

The Steam Deck supports the use of emulators to play games from different platforms. We will use the Yuzu Emulator for Nintendo Switch to play Nintendo Switch games on the Steam Deck. The process is a bit lengthy, but you can easily set it up and start playing by following this guide.

What is Yuzu Emulator?

​Yuzu Emulator is an open-source emulator for Nintendo Switch for Windows, Linux, and macOS operating systems. Emulators are software programs that replicate the hardware and software functionality of a particular game console, allowing users to play games designed for that console on their computers.

yuzu emulator website

Yuzu specifically focuses on emulating the Nintendo Switch console, which was released by Nintendo in 2017. The emulator aims to provide an accurate and efficient emulation experience that allows users to play Nintendo Switch games on their computers. It supports a wide range of games and offers features such as save states, graphic enhancements, and multiplayer capabilities over a local network.

It’s important to note that the Yuzu emulator, like other console emulators, requires a legally purchased copy of the games to play them. Since Yuzu is an open-source project, it’s continuously developed and improved, with updates and new features being released regularly.

How to Setup Yuzu on the Steam Deck

Setting up the Yuzu emulator on Steam Deck can be a great way to play Nintendo Switch games on your Steam Deck. Here are step-by-step instructions to help you get started.

  1. The first thing to do is to switch your Steam Deck to Desktop Mode. You can follow our guide for the same.desktop mode on steam deck
  2. Once you are in Desktop Mode, open the Discover app that you will find in the taskbar (it looks like a shopping bag).
  3. After you open Discover, just search for Yuzu and you should see the application page.                         yuzu in discover app
  4. Tap on the “Install” button to start installing Yuzu on your Steam Deck.
  5. Once Yuzu is installed, open it on the same page by tapping the Launch button.                launch yuzu
  6. Once Yuzu is open, you will be greeted with an error message stating that the Encryption keys are missing. Click the OK button to close that message.error message on yuzu
  7. To fix this error, you need to import the Encryption Keys and Firmware files from an actual Nintendo Switch. Follow the official guide for Yuzu to extract these files from your Nintendo Switch, but we have got you covered if you do not have a Nintendo Switch.
  8. Follow this link to download the Encryption Keys and Firmware files onto an SDCard or a thumb drive with USB-C.copy the firmware and encryption files
  9. Now, open Yuzu again and go to File > Open Yuzu Folder to open the location where you need to put the encryption keys and firmware files. For us, the location was inside Home > .var > app > org.yuzu_emu.yuzu > data > yuzu.location of the files on yuzu
  10. Now copy all three key files from your SDCard or USB stick to this location Home > .var > app > org.yuzu_emu.yuzu > data > yuzu > keys.copy the keys to this location
  11. Next, you need to copy all .nca files from the Firmware folder on your SDCard or Thumb Drive to the location Home > .var > app > org.yuzu_emu.yuzu > data > yuzu > nand > system > content > registered.copy firmware files to this location
  12. Now close the file manager and open Yuzu again. This time the error should not be there anymore.                          no error in yuzu anymore
  13. Now, you just need to configure Yuzu according to your needs. Launch the Yuzu emulator, and you will be prompted to configure the settings. Choose the options that best suit your preferences, such as graphics settings, audio settings, and input configuration.change the settings as per your need
  14. Next, you need to get the game ROMs to play Nintendo Switch games on the Yuzu emulator. You will need game ROMs in the form of XCI or NSP files. You can get these files from legally purchased Nintendo Switch game cartridges or just follow this website.
  15. Put the game ROMs in a folder on your Steam deck so that you can find them more easily in the next step.navigate to the game location
  16. To launch a game in the Yuzu emulator, click on the File tab and select Load File. Navigate to the folder where you saved your game ROMs and select the game you want to play. The emulator will load the game, and you can start playing it on your Steam has been added

You can also load the entire folder by double-clicking on the Yuzu home screen, then navigating to the location of the folder, and then adding it. This will add the entire folder to Yuzu, and all of the games that you have inside here will show up on the Yuzu home screen.

Related Read: How to Play GBA Games Online Without Downloading Any Emulator

How to Play Nintendo Switch Games on Steam Deck

The Steam Deck offers gamers an exciting way to experience Nintendo Switch games on a different platform. If you do not want to buy the Nintendo Switch because you already have the Steam Deck, but want to enjoy multiplatform gaming with some of the exclusive games like Super Mario, Zelda, and the Pokemon series, then this guide is your way into the world of the Nintendo Switch. However, it is important to note that emulation can bring legal and ethical considerations. You should be careful and follow the applicable laws and regulations to avoid getting into trouble.

super mario on yuzu

Which Nintendo Switch games would you play on the Steam Deck? Let us know in the comments below.

FAQs about Playing Nintendo Switch Games on Steam Deck

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To emulate Nintendo Switch games, you will need an emulator that can run Switch games. As far as I know (September 2021), Yuzu is the most popular emulator for the Nintendo Switch. However, there may be other options available at the time of reading.

The installation and setup process for Yuzu Emulator on Steam Deck should be similar to the installation on a regular PC. Usually, you visit the official Yuzu website, download the latest version of the emulator and follow the installation instructions. Since the Steam Deck runs on a customized version of SteamOS, you may need to ensure compatibility with the operating system.

The Steam Deck is not officially affiliated with Nintendo and, therefore, may not support transferring or playing legally purchased Nintendo Switch games. The device is primarily focused on running PC games available through the Steam platform.

Emulating Nintendo Switch games on the Steam Deck may cause performance limitations due to differences in hardware and software optimization. While the Steam Deck is a powerful handheld device, it cannot match the performance of a dedicated Nintendo Switch console.

The system requirements for emulating Nintendo Switch games on Steam Deck depend on the particular emulator you choose. The best place to find the recommended system requirements is in the emulator's documentation or website. However, since the Steam Deck is a powerful gaming device, it should generally meet the requirements of most emulators.

The Proton compatibility layer is primarily intended for running Windows games on Linux. Since the Steam Deck runs on a custom version of SteamOS, it may be possible to use Proton to run certain Windows-based emulators or games, but it is unlikely to work directly with Nintendo Switch games.

Valve Corporation, the company behind the Steam Deck, may offer official support for the device, including official software and games available on the Steam platform. However, they are unlikely to offer support specifically for Nintendo Switch game emulation. If you need help with emulation issues, you can turn to online communities, forums, or websites dedicated to emulation and games.

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