Game streaming may not have conquered the world the way some pundits thought it might, but we’ve seen real improvements in the capability across the last few years. Nintendo’s Wii U was an early iteration on the concept, Sony added the ability to stream some games to the Vita from the PS4, Microsoft will stream games to a Windows computer if you have an Xbox on a local network, and Nvidia’s GameStream can stream titles from a local PC with a GeForce GPU to other devices. Up until now, Valve’s Steam Link device has served a similar function — but the company is taking steps to expand what Steam Link offers by moving from a hardware solution to a much more flexible app.
The company writes:
The Steam Link app, slated to launch the week of May 21st, allows gamers to experience their Steam library of games on their Android (phone, tablet, TV) and iOS-based (iPhone, iPad, Apple TV) devices while connected via 5Ghz network or wired Ethernet to a host system (Mac or PC), with Android access initially offered in beta. The Steam Link App will feature support for the Steam Controller, MFI controllers, and more across both platforms.
The app will be capable of detecting Steam installations for Mac, PC, Linux, and SteamOS and can support controllers that use USB, Bluetooth, or wired input. The Steam controller and MFi-certified iOS controllers will also be supported. Valve told Ars Technica that keyboards and mice will also be supported, though how well this all works may very much depend on how nicely your tablet or phone plays with the same peripherals.
Valve has also announced that it intends to launch a Steam Video app that will let users watch thousands of movies and shows available on Steam “directly via their Android and iOS devices over Wi-Fi or LTE,” and that “in direct response to customer feedback, it will offer the ability to enjoy content in offline and streaming modes.”
Yes, we can now look forward to Steam’s stellar curation capabilities and discerning eye being applied to video content. Also, as near as I can tell, under the broadest search terms, there are about 1,400 pieces of film and TV content on Steam, most of which I’ve never heard of. Prices for the content I’ve heard of does appear to be in line with what’s available in other venues, so if you particularly like buying things on Steam, hey, it’s an option.
It’s a smart move for the company to take, and it comes at a time when more and more AAA games are popping up on mobile devices. How far this trend will go is uncertain — there will inevitably be titles that don’t translate well to small screens — but having more built-in options for moving game content from Point A to B is never a bad thing. There’s no word yet on how this will interface with features like library sharing. Presumably, titles shared with other users can be streamed within the same local network.