If you’ve dreamed of a gaming Chromebook, those devices might just be a step closer with the news that Google has announced Steam support is finally arriving for Chrome OS.
The caveat here, though, is that the initial incarnation of Steam on Chrome OS is just in testing – and alpha stage testing at that – plus it will only be available on a small number of Chromebooks.
The Verge spotted this, and points out there was some confusion as Google’s initial revelation at its Games Developer Summit made it seem like Steam had already arrived for Chromebooks, when in fact it’s the case that it’ll kick-off soon rather than right now (in alpha testing, as noted).
Google wrote: “As you may have already heard, our team is working with Valve to bring Steam to Chrome OS. We are very excited to share that we’ll be landing an early, alpha-quality version of Steam on Chrome OS in the Dev channel for a small set of Chromebooks coming soon.”
Google will facilitate this happening by running Steam in a Linux container on Chrome OS (presumably leveraging the Proton compatibility layer to ensure Windows games can be played).
Analysis: Lots of polishing still required, perhaps?
All in all, this was a surprisingly low-key announcement from Google, but that’s doubtless partially a reflection of the alpha state of this initial implementation of Steam on Chrome OS, and how it may be pretty flaky.
That’s the main worry here, really – just how buggy might this first crack at an alpha be? In short, we could still have a good deal of road to travel before the full release of Steam for Chromebooks, and that would be no huge surprise given the history of this project.
Remember that Google first started talking about bringing Steam to Chrome OS two years ago, and not that much has happened, at least not visibly, since then. That said, we have seen hints of progress, like when in January 2022 changes to Chrome OS were uncovered which enabled RGB keyboard support, and several codenames of purported gaming Chromebooks were spotted.
Naturally, you will need a decently powerful Chromebook to be able to game on (beyond casual titles, anyway), and obviously the cheaper end of the market for Google’s laptops won’t be up to scratch in that respect.
As noted, only a ‘small set’ of Chrome OS-toting devices will be able to run Steam with this initial testing, but in reality, the number of Google-powered laptops that’ll be good for proper gaming will obviously be pretty limited. As mentioned, though, we can hopefully expect Chromebooks actually designed for gaming before too long, so watch this space.
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