Since its release in 2004, I've always loved tinkering with the idea of playing World of Warcraft using a controller. In the early days I would use my Xbox 360 controller and xpadder to set up a sophisticated key binding layout that enabled me to quest from my couch. It wasn't a perfect system - navigating the UI was always a pain, as I would have to toggle my right joystick from "constantly hold the right mouse button to move the camera" mode to "mouse mode". It was a fun novelty that I could tolerate for a few hours - but ultimately I would switch back to using a mouse and keyboard.
11 years later in 2015, the first version of ConsolePort was released - an addon that makes real, efficient controller gameplay a possibility. Consisting of several independent modules, ConsolePort is a fully-fledged solution to handling all the quirks in a game where gamepad support was not intended, including interface navigation, custom-tailored UI elements to assist in gameplay, and easy-to-use targeting systems for end-game content. As of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, ConsolePort uses native gamepad controls. No external software is required.
Now, with the Steam Deck, my dream to play World of Warcraft comfortably with a controller is a reality.
While there are a few steps involved and some bugs that need to be worked out, installing World of Warcraft on Steam Deck was easier than I thought it would be. Follow this guide to get set up! Big thanks to Bitt's Guides for his walk through.
Installing Proton GE
- Check out our Proton GE guide on how to install it onto your Steam Deck. Once installed, restart your Steam Deck.
Installing the Battle.net App
- Boot the Steam Deck into Desktop Mode. Using your preferred browser, download the Battle.net desktop app.
- .Open Steam in desktop mode, go to Library and click on Add A Game in the bottom left corner.
- Select Add a Non-Steam Game.
- Click Browse.
- Click the upper center pull-down menu and select /home/deck/
- Click on Downloads.
- Change the File Type to "All Files".
- Select Battle.net Setup.exe, and then click Open.
- Click Add Selected Programs. Battle.net Setup.exe will now appear in your Steam library.
- Right-click on Battle.net Setup.exe and select Properties.
- Navigate to Compatibility.
- Select Force the Use of a Specific Steam Play Compatibility Tool. I used Proton 7-24. Close the window.
- With Battle.net Setup.exe selected click Play. The Battle.net installer will launch.
- Disable Launch at computer start and use the default install location.
- Enter your login credentials. I connected my Steam Deck to my dock to do this. Make sure you click Keep Me Logged In before logging in.
- The Battle.net Desktop App will launch. Close out of the scan for games windows and the tour.
- Close Battle.net.
You can now remove Battle.net Setup.exe from your list of Steam games and delete the file from your downloads folder.
Running the Battle.net App
Our next step is to add the Battle.net App to Steam. Because it's a Windows App running using Proton, it can be found in an emulated folder structure on your Deck.
- Click on Dolphin (folder icon) in your Task Manager bar.
- In the new window, open the hamburger menu in the upper right corner.
- Select Show Hidden Files, then close the window (You can alternatively use the keyboard shortcut ctrl+h to show hidden folders).
- Open up Steam and add the Battle.net executable to your Steam games list:
- Go through this chain of directories: /home/deck/.local/share/Steam/steamapps/compatdata
- There will be several directories listed, all with numbers as their names. One of them contains the newly installed Battle.net. It will be one of the longer numbers. It should be the last modified directory. Open the last modified directory, pfx, then drive_c, then Program Files (x86). The right one will have a Battle.net directory.
- Open the Battle.net directory.
- Change the File Type (bottom center) to All Files.
- Click on Battle.net.exe to select it. Click Open.
- Click Add Selected Programs. Battle.net.exe will now appear in your Steam library.
- Once added, right-click on Battle.net.exe and go to Properties.
- Select on Compatibility.
- Select Force the Use of a Specific Steam Play Compatibility Tool. Select you preferred version of Proton (I used 7-24). Close the window.
- Open Battle.net from Steam!
Installing World of Warcraft onto your Steam Deck
- With the Battle.net App open, select World of Warcraft and click Install.
- Allow it to use its default install location. Deselect the option to allow the installer to add a desktop shortcut.
- World of Warcraft will download and install just as it would on a computer.
- Once installed, click Play to launch your game and make sure it starts up as expected. Once verified, close the game.
To launch World of Warcraft, I would use the Battle.net launcher every time. While you can add the WoW.exe executable to your Steam Library, you will be prompted to log in using your Battle.net Credentials. I personally don't have the patience to enter my email and password using the on-screen keyboard, so I just use the Battle.net launcher to open the game.
Installing CurseForge, ConsolePort and Suggested Addons
I use CurseForge to manage my World of Warcraft addons, which just released an alpha version for Linux. Follow these steps to get ConsolePort added to your World of Warcraft installation.
- Create a World of Warcraft Directory Shortcut. This will allow CurseForge to find your World of Warcraft installation directory.
- Click on Dolphin (folder icon) in your task manager bar.
- Click on Home on the left sidebar.
- Go through this chain of directories: /home/.local/share/Steam/steamapps/compatdata
- There will be several directories listed, all with numbers as their names. One of them contains the World of Warcraft installation. It should be the last modified directory. Open the last modified directory, pfx, then drive_c, then Program Files (x86). The right one will have a World of Warcraft folder.
- Drag the entire World of Warcraft folder into Home in the left sidebar.
- At the prompt select Link Here. Do NOT move it, or you’ll break Battle.net’s link to it.
- You’ll now see a World of Warcraft directory in Home, in italics. That is a shortcut to the real directory.
- Download CurseForge.
- Open your Downloads folder using Dolphin. You can leave the .appimage file here, but I moved it to the desktop. If it prompts you to allow it to execute, let it.
- Once open, click on Manually Add a Game. Select World of Warcraft.
From here, you can search for and install as many addons as you'd like. The addons I use so far are the following:
ConsolePort - ConsolePort is an interface add-on for World of Warcraft that will give you a handful of nifty features in order to let you play the game on a controller - without inconvenience.
Immersion - A replacement for the dated quest & gossip frames. Hugely inspired by the talking head frame, Immersion is a no-nonsense solution to the wall of quest text you never read, without hindering your progress. Skip ahead, accept quests and select dialogue options with the press of a single button or simply click anywhere on the frame to pick up the next quest.
DynamicCam - DynamicCam automates camera transitions (and settings) between the many different 'situations' that your character can find themselves in.
Once finished, you should be able to boot up World of Warcraft! I decided to start a new character - a Human Warrior - to get the full experience of playing WoW on my Steam Deck. Let us know if you have any issues following this guide. Happy gaming!
In my experience I've found that you only get one chance per fresh boot to open up and automatically log into World of Warcraft from the Battle.net launcher. Subsequent attempts will either launch without your Battle.net credentials or fail to open at all. The only solution I've found so far is to reboot your device.