How to Install EmuDeck for Retro Gaming

The Steam Deck is one of the most powerful handheld systems available. There are more powerful rivals, but the Linux OS that works under the hood gives it more versatility than its rivals. This extends to the massive range of games on the Steam Store and the device’s ability to play games using mods like the EmuDeck. The EmuDeck lets Steam Deck users emulate retro games (and some modern) from the Atari, the Sega Megadrive/Genesis, Dreamcast, and many more. To help players get it running, this guide will provide the most pain-free method possible.

Updated December 14, 2023, by Michael Llewellyn: The Steam Deck offers a portable means of playing many modern and demanding games. However, players can also set it up so it is their go-to device for retro gaming, thanks to the number of emulators available via EmuDeck. Whether users want to play Sega Master System, PS1, and PS2 games on the same device, the guide has the right tools. This guide has been updated to include new relevant links and the list of emulators available for the EmuDeck.


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Before Installing EmuDeck on the Steam Deck

Steam Deck EmuDeck games on the main screen

To run emulated games on the Steam Deck, install the best program available, Emudeck. It allows players to install several emulators and run games from various consoles and gaming systems under one program without getting too complicated. It lets users have their emulated games appear in their Steam library alongside their purchased Steam Games for a seamless experience.

Before trying to install EmuDeck, Steam Deck users will need to have some tools in place to make the experience as smooth as possible:

  • High-Speed A2 SD Card. The San Disk Extreme Pro brand is a good recommendation. Even though users can install EmuDeck on the internal SSD, using the SD card for retro games keeps the internal clear for more demanding software.
  • Legally owned ROMS and Bios Files. Roms are the ripped video games that users should own legally by purchasing them. The Bios are files needed to run installed for specific emulators.
  • USB-C compatible storage device to transfer ROMS and BIOS files.

Installing Emudeck on the Steam Deck

Steam Deck Emudeck running under collections

For this guide, players are going to install all the emulators — including Dolphin — that EmuDeck has available using the built-in Easy Mode:

  • Press the Steam button underneath the left trackpad.
  • Highlight Switch to Desktop Mode.
  • Open a favorite browser and head to the EmuDeck website to download the installer.
  • Move the EmuDeck installer into the desktop.
  • Select Easy Mode.
  • Select SD for the ROM Directory.
  • Select the Steam Deck image as the device.
  • The EmuDeck installer will begin installing files.
  • Use the USB Transfer Tool to add ROMS now or skip and add them later.
  • The EmuDeck will be installed and display several options to tinker with.


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One of the top features of EmuDeck is the EmuDeck store, which is filled with non-profit and fanmade games. Take a look in the store and download some of the games there, as it’s a great way to find out if everything is working as it should with the emulators.

Adding Emulated Games to the Steam Deck Library

EmuDeck USB Transfer app

Assuming Steam Deck users have added their ROMS and Bios files using the transfer ROMs, it’s time to add the emulated titles to the Steam Deck library under a new tab called Collections:

  • Select Steam ROM Manager.
  • Select Yes in the pop-up box.
  • If users don’t want all the emulators to appear in their Collections library, switch Toggle Parsers off and manually switch on the required emulators.
  • Select the Preview button.
  • Select Parse.
  • When all the artwork has been downloaded for the games and emulators, select Save to Steam.
  • Switch to the Steam Deck’s Gaming Mode.
  • Press the Steam button to access the Library.

Steam Deck Emulated N64 wrestling games

  • The new Collections tab will feature the emulated games.
  • Avoid setting Proton features to run emulated games, as they rarely work.

The Full List Of Emulators On EmuDeck

Steam Deck running the DuckStation Emulator-1

The EmuDeck installer includes several emulators that allow the Steam Deck to play a vast range of retro games in one place. The list of emulators available is as follows:

  • RetroArch: An all-in-one emulator for the PS1, Saturn, Dreamcast, Sega CD, and Nintendo DS.
  • Dolphin: GameCube and the Wii
  • Primehack: Allows the Steam Deck to run the Metroid Prime Trilogy on the Wii.
  • DuckStation: PS1
  • melonDS: Nintendo DS
  • Citra: Nintendo 3DS
  • PCSX2QT: PS2
  • RPCS3: PS3
  • Yuzu: Switch
  • RyuJinx: Switch
  • Xemu: Xbox
  • Cemu: Nintendo Wii U
  • Steam ROM Manager: Adds games to the Steam Library
  • Rosalie’s Mupen Gui: N64
  • MAME: Arcade
  • Vita3K: PS Vita
  • ScummVM: Scumm and MS-DOS
  • Xenia: Xbox 360
  • mGBA: GameBoy Advance

Some games will operate out of the box, but others may take some work to run them. Playing around with the performance settings on the Steam Deck, turning off framerate limits, and increasing it to 60 FPS should work. Finally, installing Power Tools on the Steam Deck, switching off SMT, and reducing Threads 4 appear to allow most retro games to run on the Steam Deck.

The Steam Deck is available from the official Steam Deck store.

Steam Deck Console

Steam Deck

$459 $499 Save $40

7″ diagonal 1280 x 800px (16:10 aspect ratio) 60Hz

64 GB – 512 GB

AMD APU Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz

40Whr battery. 2 – 8 hours of gameplay

Bluetooth 5.0 and Dual-band Wi-Fi radio, 2.4GHz and 5GHz

1x USB-C with DisplayPort 1.4 Alt-mode support; up to 8K @60Hz or 4K @120Hz, 1x USB 3.2 ,1x Micro SD slot, 1x 3.5 audio jack

298mm x 117mm x 49mm

Approx. 669 grams

Stereo with embedded DSP for an immersive listening experience and Dual Microphone Array