Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has confirmed that players will be unable to run Fortnite directly on Valve’s Steam Deck. Many Fortnite fans will be disappointed, especially those who were looking forward to playing the battle royale game on Steam Deck. Furthermore, the Steam Deck release date is fast approaching, as the device is set to be released on February 25, 2022.
Sweeney stated in a series of tweets that the company is not confident in its ability to combat cheating in Fortnite when running on custom kernel configurations. In any case, Fortnite isn’t available on Steam, but Sweeney’s comments rule out a Linux version that could run on the Steam Deck.
The Steam Deck runs Valve’s SteamOS, which is based on Linux, and employs a compatibility layer known as Proton, which allows Steam games compiled for Windows to run on it. Epic has made its anti-cheat software, Easy Anti-Cheat (EAC), compatible with Linux and Proton, so developers who use it should have no trouble getting their games to work on the Steam Deck. For the time being, Epic will not be one of them, at least not with Fortnite.
Sweeney described Linux as “a tremendously difficult audience to serve given the variety of incompatible configurations” when contacted for comment by The Verge. When asked if it would be possible to enable compatibility only for SteamOS, he stated, “Linux is already a small market, and if you subdivide it by blessed kernel versions, it’s even smaller.” It may not be worth Epic’s time to work on security for what will be a comparatively small audience at first.
Running the game on the device isn’t the issue. The Steam Deck runs the Linux-based Steam OS, whereas Fortnite is Windows-based (it used to have a Mac version). However, through compatibility layers, Steam Deck users will be able to run many games that are not Linux native. For situations like this, third-party tools such as the Heroic Game Launcher were created.