The Steam Deck’s Compatibility Tool, known as Proton, is a crucial feature for gaming on this device. Proton is a compatibility layer that enables Windows games, which are not natively supported on the Steam Deck’s Linux-based operating system, to run seamlessly. If this tool fails, playing games or operating the deck could become problematic.
Recently, there has been an increase in reports of a “Compatibility Tools Failed” error on the deck. Sometimes, the issue is limited to a single game, but at other times, it affects all games. Even brand-new out-of-the-box decks have exhibited this issue. In some cases, an update to the Steam Deck’s software has triggered the problem.
The Compatibility Tool can be fixed by using simple steps such as restarting or updating it. If those don’t work, resetting or reimaging might be the ultimate solutions. Before you begin troubleshooting, check in the deck’s settings to see if a disk maintenance task is running. If it is, allow it to complete before checking if the problem has been resolved.
1. Disable the Offline Mode of the Steam Deck
Many compatibility operations require Internet access. If your deck is in offline mode, it won’t have the access it needs, which can cause issues. To fix this, disable the offline mode of the Steam Deck.
- Launch the deck menu by pressing the Steam button and navigate to Settings > Internet.
- Tap on Go Online to disable offline mode and check if the problem has been resolved.
2. Reinsert the SD Card into the Steam Deck
If the Steam Deck encounters difficulties performing read/write operations on the SD card, the compatibility tool might not be able to process as necessary and could fail. To remediate this, reinsert the SD card into the Steam Deck.
- Pause any ongoing downloads by going to Downloads.
- Press the Steam button and in the menu, go to Settings > Storage.
- Select the Eject SD card option and remove the card from the deck.
- After waiting for a minute, reinsert the card into the deck. Then, check if the compatibility tool is functioning properly.
3. Restart Steam and the Steam Deck
A failed compatibility tool on the Steam Deck could be due to an OS module not loading correctly or an OS component needing a restart to apply changes after an update. In either case, restarting Steam or the Steam Deck should solve the problem.
- Open the Steam Deck menu by pressing the Steam button and navigate to the Power tab.
- Select Restart Steam and after the restart, check if the compatibility issue has been resolved.
Restart the Steam Deck
- Within the Power tab of the deck menu, select Restart.
- After the restart, verify if the compatibility tool issue has been fixed.
4. Update the Steam Deck’s OS, Games, and Proton Versions
An outdated deck’s OS might not be compatible with games or other services and could cause the compatibility tool to fail. Updating to the latest build should resolve the issue.
Update the Deck’s OS
- Ensure the deck is connected to the Internet, press the Steam button, and select Settings, then go to System.
- In the Updates section, click on Check for Updates. If updates are available, install them.
- Restart the deck and see if the issue has been resolved.
Update the Game
- Navigate to the deck’s Library and access the properties of the game.
- If an update is available, click on Update, then restart the deck upon completion.
- Launch the game to verify if the issue has been resolved.
Update Proton Version
- Locate Proton by searching in the Steam Library or Steam Deck Storage.
- In the Tools section, select a Proton version for updating.
- Update all Proton versions by repeating these steps.
- Following that, restart the Steam Deck and check if the compatibility issue has been resolved.
If you’ve previously uninstalled a Proton version, reinstall and update it to see if this resolves the problem.
5. Check the Free Space on the Steam Deck
If there is insufficient free space on the Steam Deck, necessary updates and OS component compatibility may be hampered. Checking and freeing up space should clear this issue.
- Access Settings > Storage from the Steam Deck menu.
- If not enough space is available, delete some files from the deck (avoid deleting any Proton version) or consider expanding storage.
- After addressing the storage issue, restart the deck, and recheck for updates on the OS, games, and Proton versions.
6. Leave Steam Deck Beta
Being part of the Steam Deck Beta could introduce incompatibilities due to its testing nature. Opting out should address this.
- Open the deck menu via the Steam button, navigate to Settings > System.
- In the Beta Participation Channel, select the dropdown menu for the System Update Channel and choose Stable.
- Follow the prompts to complete the channel switch process and then restart the deck to verify if the compatibility tool problem has been resolved.
- If this does not work, try switching the update channel to Preview to see if that clears the issue.
7. Check the Integrity of the Game and Services Files
Damaged files critical to the game or services on the deck’s OS can cause the compatibility tool to fail. Correcting this involves checking the integrity of those files.
- From the deck’s menu, go to System > Storage.
- Select a Proton version and navigate to Manage.
- Choose Verify Integrity of Game Files. Repeat this for other Proton versions, Steam Runtime, Steam Linux Runtime – Soldier, and games. If you don’t find this option under Manage, look in the game or service Properties > Local Files.
- After completing this process, restart the deck to check if the compatibility issue has been resolved.
8. Reinstall the Problematic Game
If a game’s core modules are damaged, it may no longer be compatible with the deck, causing the compatibility tool to fail. Reinstalling the problematic game is the solution.
- Access the deck’s menu by pressing the Steam button and navigate to the Library or Storage.
- Select the game and press the X button to uninstall it.
- Confirm the Uninstall action, then restart the deck.
- Reinstall the game and assess if the compatibility issue has been addressed.
9. Launch Steam Through Konsole
If none of the above methods work, you can attempt to launch Steam through Konsole. Any resulting errors can then be investigated for solutions online.
- Access the Power menu using the Steam button on the deck.
- Select Switch to Desktop Mode, ensuring Steam is closed beforehand.
- Launch Konsole, execute the Steam command, and try launching the problematic game.
- Look for any errors in Konsole and if one appears, search online for a solution to that specific error. Check if this resolves the issue.
10. Try Different Proton Versions
If the compatibility tool fails because a game or service does not support the current Proton version, trying different versions may help.
- Within the Steam Library, go to the properties of the problematic game.
- In the Compatibility section, enable Force the Use of A Specific Compatibility Tool and try selecting another Proton version. If this doesn’t work, test other Proton versions, including Proton Experimental.
11. Reset or Reimage the Steam Deck
If the core components of the Steam Deck’s OS are corrupted or invalid, resetting or reimaging the device may be necessary.
Before proceeding, backup any important data on the deck as it will be erased, and ensure the deck’s battery is fully charged.
Reset the Steam Deck
- Press the Steam button, navigate to Settings > System, and select Factory Reset.
- Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the reset.
- Afterward, set up the deck again to see if the compatibility tool issue has been resolved.
Re-image the Steam Deck
- Download the Steam Deck OS Recovery from the official website via a web browser.
- Prepare an 8GB USB drive as a bootable device with the downloaded image using the appropriate utility based on your OS:
Windows: Rufus Mac and Linux: Balena Etcher
- Connect the USB drive to the Steam Deck using an adapter or hub.
- Power down the deck, and concurrently press and hold the Volume Down and Power buttons.
- Once you hear the chime, release the Volume Down button, and in the Boot Manager, release the Power button.
- Select EFI USB Device with the name of your USB drive and wait for the deck to boot into the Desktop mode.
- Choose Re-image Steam Deck and comply with the on-screen instructions to reimage the device.
- After completing the re-imaging process, proceed to set up the deck.
- Hopefully, re-imaging the device will have resolved any compatibility tool issues.
Should the problem persist, it would be prudent to contact Steam Support for further assistance. They can provide additional troubleshooting steps and guidance to help resolve the issue with your Steam Deck’s Compatibility Tool.