Valve Steam Deck LCD – Playnite Setup Guide for Windows 11

Hey everyone and welcome back to Joey’s Retro Handhelds. I’m Joey, and today we’re going to be doing Part 2 of my Windows on Steam Deck guide. 

If you haven’t done Part 1 yet, head back and do that to catch up. In this guide, we’re going to be installing Playnite as our frontend to automatically boot into when starting Windows and organize and launch all of our games from all storefronts and emulators. To get an idea of what this looks like, I’m showing it on screen. This is the default theme for Playnite, but there’s tons. I mentioned it in my last video, but you can have a PS5, Xbox, Switch or a lot of other themes that look and feel awesome. 

Let’s start. 

Before we install Playnite, install your storefront or wherever your games are. So Steam, EA, GOG, Epic or whatever you want. Just easier if you do this now. I’m not going to do show any of this as it’s just Windows, I assume any person can install Steam and install games, nothing new with this process here.

But, we do need to talk about Steam. You have options when it comes to Steam, given how Steam Deck Tools interacts with it and this could cause headaches. You might see a popup like what I’m showing on screen, and I’ll also have a link in the description to this section in the Windows written guide. There’s three options. You can choose to have the Steam Deck act as an Xbox 360 controller for Steam, this is the option I use and has the most compatibility without causing issues. The second option is using Steam Input with Steam, which will use Steam controls, but involves doing a lot more configuration. The last option is ignore Steam, and I personally don’t know why you would, but it’s there. Like I said, click the help button or read the written guide to decide what’s best for you. If you don’t know, choose the first option, it’s the easiest and breaks nothing. 

Once that’s all done, and you have some games installed from each service, or no games at all, we can move on. 

Head to, or the link in the description. Click the green download button, and click Options. Select Portable and I’m going to put mine in the C drive. Just select the C drive and you’re good to go. Click Install. 

Once it’s loaded, click Next, and now this is where we can connect Playnite to any service that you have games on. I’ll be showing Steam and Xbox GamePass, but the steps are basically the same for all of them. You can also choose not to do this if you don’t want to for whatever reason.

For each integration, just click connect account and then authenticate. The other settings are up to you. If you click import not installed games, it’s going to show your entire library in Playnite – so up to you if you want that. Once you’re done with all the integrations, you’ll be brought to Playnite’s Desktop mode. This is important as Playnite has two modes – desktop and fullscreen. Fullscreen is the console like interface that I showed earlier, where all your games are easily launchable using a controller. This mode here is more for changing settings and doing things.

You should see an update at the top saying importing games from your services and you’ll start to see your games populate on the left side. 

Once it’s done importing everything, let’s just take a quick look at how everything shows up. Click the controller icon top left, and click switch to fullscreen mode. Steam Deck Tools should automatically switch to Xbox 360 controls and now you can just move around using the controller to see how the interface looks like. Push the windows button on the Steam Deck or right click the controller icon top right and click switch to desktop mode. 

The next part is optional, but for Gamepass users, let’s get those games to show as a catalog. Head to the controller top left, add-ons, and then under the Browse header, click Generic. Find Game Pass Catalog Browser and install. Click Save and yes to restart. 

Now on the left you should see an Xbox icon, head to that, and it’s going to update your catalog. It’ll take a minute or two. After that, you’ll see the entire Gamepass catalog. These will not show in fullscreen mode, but it’s a shortcut to the store, so click on a game you want and then click add to playnite library. Once you do, it’ll show in your library on the left. Let’s also organize it a bit better, click the circle icon next to the filter icon in the top bar. So now you see Dead Cells, which is the game I chose from Gamepass, but it’s greyed out, meaning it’s not installed. If you click install, it’ll take you to the Microsoft Store and you can just install it. 

Let’s change some Playnite settings. Head to the controller top left, then settings, and click minimize playnite to system tray. Also, click launch in fullscreen mode and launch playnite when you start your computer. This will make it so when you start the Steam Deck, it goes right into fullscreen mode so you get a console like experience. For Steam users, if you click the Auto close clients section, it gives you the option to automatically close Steam when you close a game that was using it. Since I don’t personally have Steam booting up on startup, and I don’t want Steam running in the background if not being used, I selected this option. 

Before we talk about emulators, a question you likely have is how do you add games that are not part of a service? And I’m not going to ask questions about where you got them. Head to the controller icon top left, add game, scan automatically. Click scan folder and navigate to the game folder and select folder. Playnite will search for executables in that folder, select the correct one and then click Add Games. If the thumbnail, title and information are wrong after, keep watching, I talk about how to fix that a bit later on near the end of the emulator talk.

Okay, let’s talk about emulators. I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but we have Windows, meaning there’s hundreds if not thousands of guides for installing and configuring emulators. I’m not going to be showing the full process, instead, I’m going to put links in my description to guides for the more popular emulators. However, I will talk about important changes to each emulator and a very big important thing you need to know. So let’s start with that. Now if you recall, I said that all games and emulators are going to recognize the Steam Deck as an Xbox 360, as long as you chose the option I recommended earlier. This is half true. Without a game open, you are almost always in Desktop mode and when you’re not in a game or emulator, you can change that by right clicking on the taskbar where the screen or controller icon is and changing between Desktop and Xbox 360. This is important, as when you’re ready to setup controls for any of the emulators you’re going to install, you want to change this to Xbox 360 BEFORE opening the emulator. Let me show you an example. If I open Dolphin in Desktop mode and go to try and configure the controller, it shows as disconnected (only because I’ve configured, it actually wouldn’t show if you’re opening for the first time), and if you tried to map controls right now, it would think you’re using a keyboard and mouse. Close out, change to Xbox 360 and come back in and now you see XInput correctly and even another controller option. So remember to do this while setting up all your emulators. 

Now you’re probably freaking out and saying what? I have to do this for all my games too before running them? And the answer is no. For regular games, when you load in, if you push and hold the 3 dots you get our menu with all our settings. At the very bottom it says Controller. If you navigate to it with the dpad and push left or right, you can change between Xbox 360 and desktop. Since Power Control saves per app configuration, you only have to do this once. A lot of games will just set it automatically, but some need you to do this once and then never again. 

Okay, as promised, let me talk about any emulator specific settings you should change for a better experience with Playnite. The main thing you want to do is make sure you add your roms as a directory for every single emulator you can, so make sure the emulator actually has an idea where your roms are. Then for pretty much all of them, just enable fullscreen and configure controller settings. Xenia’s fullscreen is in its config file. The rest will be personal preference for settings. For almost all of them, you’ll want to disable the confirm on exit option or you’ll get an annoying popup when you’re trying to exit the emulator. I would also disable check for updates on start, which also gets annoying. There’s not much else to say – like I said, just read or watch the guides for each emulator and change things as you go. 

Now that we have our emulators setup and we have games showing inside of them, how do we get those games into Playnite? Head to Playnite desktop mode, controller icon, library, configure emulators. Click Import at the bottom then scan folder, and navigate to the emulator you want to add, I’ll do Xenia. Select folder and then click import. Click Save at the bottom. So you’ll want to repeat this process for all your emulators, just add them in. So now Playnite knows what emulator to use for that type of game, let’s get the games in. Controller icon, add game, emulated game. Then click add scanner and you want to change the following fields: scan with emulator (choose the emulator, so Xenia for me), Profile (usually only one profile, Canary for mine – for retroarch, this will be the core you’re using), then click the scan folder icon and find your ROMS for that emulator, so my Xbox 360 directory. Last thing we want to do is have this automatically search for new games if we add them, so click save as auto-scan configuration, and name it – I chose xbox 360. Let it scan, it’ll take a while for some of the disc based systems. Once done, you’ll get a screen like mine and then you can just click import. You should see the games in your library now. 

One last step to do. We have the emulator setup, we have the games linked to that emulator for Playnite to launch, let’s get them to show as their own category in Playnite fullscreen. Click the filter icon at the top, looks like a funnel and now you’ll see on the right a whole bunch of options to filter your library. Head to platform, and choose the platform you want to filter – so Xbox 360 for me. I only have the one game installed right now, but my entire library just got filtered by Xbox 360 games. Now head to the Save icon on the right and click that, and set a name. I’ll choose Xbox 360 and make sure to select the second checkbox, to show as a quick filter. So what did that do? Let’s jump back into fullscreen mode and let’s ignore the fact that I was running the Switch theme during this recording, but you can see the Xbox 360 icon and filter at the bottom that we can select into and see only Xbox 360 games. 

And so, basically repeat this process for all your emulators and games. Now a question you’re going to have is, some of your games are missing the thumbnail and the right title, information, everything. An easy way to see this is in desktop mode, if you click the grid icon at the top, your library will now show in thumbnails. You can see Rhythm Paradise Megamix is missing, so let’s right click that and click edit. Then, click download metadata at the bottom, and the IGDB option. Now, this acts like a search. It’s wonky sometimes, Pokemon needs that accented e to be found for example, but in this case, the option I need is on screen, so just click it and choose select. It’ll ask about importing that data, select. Then click save. Now we have a thumbnail, perfect.

That’s basically it. Now you know how to do basically everything. If you want to change your theme, head to the Playnite forums and their themes section for fullscreen, or the link in my description, and you can browse what’s available for install. They can be installed directly from Playnite when you find one you like, from desktop mode, controller icon, addons, browse section themes fullscreen. There’s also a ton of extensions you can install too, like the HowLongToBeat extension, or SuccessStory for achievements, and a bunch more. You can do down a very big rabbit hole. 

But for everyone else, you should have a perfect Windows setup now. Enjoy your games. For anything more, like I said before, the WindowsOnDeck subreddit, or their Discord are great resources for questions and more improvements, so check those out. Also Bald Sealion’s great Windows guide, all of these links in my description.

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