Someone tried to turn their Nintendo Switch into a Steam Deck, it didn't work

One man's journey to get Steam running on a Nintendo Switch to turn it into a Steam Deck might have ended in failure but it's fascinating, nonetheless.

Someone tried to turn their Nintendo Switch into a Steam Deck, it didn't work
1 minute & 13 seconds read time

When it comes to handheld gaming in 2023, there's the Nintendo Switch, and then there's Valve's Steam Deck - one being a traditional Nintendo-style console and the other being a portable gaming PC. What if you could hack the Switch to make it run Steam and fire up PC games? Wouldn't that turn it into a Nintendo Switch Deck or a Steam Switch?

That's the question YouTuber SpikeHD set out to answer and hopefully pull off - except it was impossible using existing tools and hacks. The idea is sound; a jailbroken Switch can run Ubuntu, so there should be a way to run the Linux version of Steam on the Nintendo console.

It's worth pointing out that only older models (from the console's launch) can be hacked in the first place, but that wasn't what ultimately led to the Steam Switch journey ending. Even though that requires a lot of SD card action bypassing boot loaders and compiling and even shorting connections on the Joy-Con rails to get working.

The real roadblock arrived from the Switch's Arm-based NVIDIA Tegra chip and the fact that Steam only works with x86 processors. The idea then switched (yeah) to an emulation approach, running Steam via an x86 emulator on the Switch. This also didn't work, though SpikeHD could forcibly install Steam - which is at least some progress.

All in all, it's a fascinating look at Switch hacks while confirming - at least to me - that consoles are better left as is when you see how complicated it all gets. What's that? You can run GameCube games on an Xbox Series X|S console now? Tell me more.

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Kosta might be a relatively new member of TweakTown, but he’s a veteran gaming journalist that cut his teeth on well-respected Aussie publications like PC PowerPlay and HYPER back when articles were printed on paper. A lifelong gamer since the 8-bit Nintendo era, it was the CD-ROM-powered 90s that cemented his love for all things games and technology. From point-and-click adventure games to RTS games with full-motion video cut-scenes and FPS titles referred to as Doom clones. Genres he still loves to this day. Kosta is also a musician, releasing dreamy electronic jams under the name Kbit.

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