STEAM GAMES are available natively in Android for the first time after a beta version of the Steam Link app, first promised only last week, arrived in the Google Play Store on Thursday,
The app isn’t a native Steam client, but rather a VNC-powered streaming service, much like GeForce Now from Nvidia.
It is only available on local networks, and the instructions actually recommend using an ethernet on both the host computer and the slave gaming machine (phone, Android TV, tablet or whatever).
We’ve tested it over a good WiFi signal (the absolute minimum is 15Mbps) and we’ve had no major problems, though you may need to install a few extra drivers on the host machine.
From there, the experience is pretty intuitive and detection of hosts and clients takes place automatically.
As with all streaming, your performance depends entirely on your network environment, and of course, this is a beta so things could still go wrong. But so far, we’re impressed.
As for whether it’s a viable product in the context of only working locally, we’re less convinced. It will really need some sort of LTE (4G) support down the line – but this seems unlikely when Steam is suspicious of even letting you use it over WiFi (though the app doesn’t go so far as to actively stop you).
The app is capable of 4K at 60FPS, but Variety reports that its target will be 1080p at 60fps with no buffering.
Steam has had its collective eye on Steam Machines, a dedicated OS for gaming machines that would run your PC/Mac/Linux game collection natively.
But those plans seem to have hit the buffers, despite Steam’s protestations that they are still actively pursuing the platform.
It does seem, however, that Steam Link coming to Android (and soon iOS) is something of a white flag, as it finally brings its games to previously unsupported operating systems instead. µ