Disclaimer: We do not advise using an emulator or downloading ROMs online.
The Steam Deck has been around for several months now. One thing that is making waves right now is the number of emulators that you can run on SteamOS.
Several emulators are available to run PlayStation 2 games and Nintendo titles. But what about classic Xbox 360 games? Can you play Xbox 360 Games on the Steam Deck? Let’s find out.
Can Steam Deck Emulate Xbox 360?
Fortunately, the Steam Deck can emulate the Xbox 360. The Xenia Xbox 360 Emulator for Windows released a recent update that improves its performance on the Steam Deck.
The latest Xenia update claims that the performance improvement ranges from 30-90%. The reason why the huge performance boost is well-appreciated is that native Xbox 360 games are intensive despite their age.
The Steam Deck only runs on AMD APU which means it is running the CPU and graphics card from a single chip. Performance drops and limited frame rates are expected since it does not use a dedicated graphics card.
However, the downside to Xenia is it takes more steps to get running on the Steam Deck unlike other emulators like Dolphin or Citra.
There is another option to emulate Xbox 360 on the Steam Deck. It is called Xemu Emulator. This emulator can run Xbox games but expect some performance issues.
How To Emulate Xbox 360 On The Steam Deck Using Xemu
Install Xemu on your Steam Deck
- Open your Steam Deck.
- Click on the menu on the lower left side of your screen.
- Click on Power.
- Click on Switch to Desktop Mode.
- Open the Discover Store once you are in Desktop Mode.
- Head on to the Search Bar and type “Xemu” and hit search.
- Click on Xemu.
- Click on Install in the upper right corner.
- Wait until the installation process is over and you are done.
Important Files You Need To Run Xemu on The Steam Deck
There are important files that you need to download first before running Xemu successfully. These files are for educational purposes only and it is highly recommended that you own these games legally. We do not condone piracy and we suggest that you support your game developers to reciprocate their hard work.
That said, here are the links to those files:
- MCPX Boot ROM Image
- Xbox Bios
- Pre-Built Xbox HDD Image
Setting Up The Downloaded Files
- Before opening Xemu, head on to your Downloads folder – where you downloaded the three files above.
- Extract the download files.
- Open the Debug.Bios folder and copy the file “Complex_4627.bin”.
- Click on Home then open the .Var folder. Make sure that the “show hidden files” option is selected on your File Explorer settings.
- Open the App folder.
- Open the App.Xemu.Xemu folder.
- Head on to the Data folder and open the Xemu folder.
- Paste the “Complex_4627.bin” file to the Xemu folder.
- Go back to the Downloads folder again.
- Open the Xbox Bios folder.
- Select the “mcpx_1.0.bin” file. Right-click and then Copy.
- Go back to the Xemu folder mentioned in step 8 and paste the “mcpx_1.9.bin” file in the folder.
- Go back to the Downloads folder once again.
- Right-click on the “xbox_hdd.qcow2” file and click on copy.
- Go back to the Xemu folder again and paste the “xbox_hdd.qcow2” file in the folder.
Downloading Xbox 360 Games
There are several websites where you can download Xbox 360 games that you can emulate on your Nintendo Switch. We do not advise downloading ROMs unless you already own the game.
Here are the most popular ones:
Select your desired game and download it to your Steam Deck. You may download it directly through your Steam Deck browser or you can download the files on your PC and transfer it to your microSD or external SSD. Once you have the game, you may create a dedicated folder on your internal Steam Deck storage or external storage options.
One thing to note though is that Xemu only reads ISO files. Make sure that you are only using ISO files on your Steam Deck.
If you downloaded a ROM but it is in a different file type, you may use an XBE to ISO file converter app before transferring the file on your Steam Deck.
Running Xemu On The Steam Deck For The First Time
- Open Xemu.
- Go to Machine on the top menu.
- Head on to System.
- Select the MCPX Boot ROM. Click on the icon to the right and a folder will open to choose the right ROM.
- Select Home, go to .Var.
- Click on App.
- Click on App.Xemu.Xemu.
- Click on Data then click on Xemu.
- Click on Xemu once again.
- Select the “MCPX_1.0.bin” file then click on Open.
- Now, for the Flash ROM or the Bios click on the Open icon again.
- Navigate back to the Xemu folder and select the “Complex_4627.bin” file and click Open.
- Lastly, click on the Hard Disk and press the icon on the right again.
- Navigate to the same Xemu folder.
- Select the “xbox_hdd.qcow2” file and click Open. These are the files that you downloaded earlier.
- Head on to the Display Settings on the right. Make sure that the Window size is set to 1280 x 800 but this is up to you.
- The Internal Resolution Scale could be set to 1x or 2x depending on your preference.
- Now, head on to Input Settings and check if it automatically detects the Steam Deck controller.
- That is it for the initial setup.
- Close Xemu and open it once again and now the Xbox start-up logo will now show up.
Launching A Game on Xemu
- Open Xemu.
- Select Machine on the Top Menu.
- Click on Load Disc.
- Navigate to your Xbox 360 Game Folder.
- Select the ISO file.
- Click Open.
Adding Xemu Emulator To The Steam Gaming Mode
- Open Steam on Desktop Mode.
- Go to Library.
- Click on Add a Game.
- Click on Add a non-Steam Game.
- Click the checkbox beside Xemu.
- Click on Add Selected Programs.
- You are done! You may now switch to Gaming mode and you can now access Xemu easily.
How To Emulate Xbox 360 On The Steam Deck Using Xenia
Using Xenia to emulate and play Xbox 360 games on the Steam Deck is a little bit more complicated. You need to have a Windows OS on your Steam Deck in order to install the latest Xenia experimental build – the one with a huge performance boost.
The pre-requisite to this one as well such as having a microSD card where you can install Windows 10. Once you have a dual-boot Steam Deck, you may then install Xenia on your Steam Deck.
The only problem with Xenia is that it is unstable at the moment since the current build is still experimental. But do not worry, we’ll keep you updated on how to install Xenia on your Steam Deck so you can finally play classic Xbox 360 games without a huge performance loss.
The Steam Deck can emulate Xbox 360 games but there are problems such as lag and performance loss. This is caused by the Deck’s hardware since Xbox 360 games are difficult to run despite being years old.
If you still want to give it a go, then you might want to opt for Xemu Emulator at the moment. The game options are a little bit limited but it is more stable than Xenia at the moment. We will keep you updated with Xenia though once a stable build comes out.
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