PC gamers on a budget are rejoicing today as it was announced that Google is reportedly working on adding support for Steam to its line of Chromebooks. Currently, Chrome OS doesn’t support the popular gaming platform. Due to the increasing popularity of both Steam and Chromebooks, however, Google is now working to bring them together.
Interestingly, most Chromebook devices are fairly low-powered. With that in mind, it’s hard to imagine them playing most of the GPU-intensive games found in Steam’s library. At least for the time being, Steam support will only benefit Chromebook owners with one of the more powerful devices.
When Google announced that it will be adding support for Steam to its operating system, the news came as a surprise. No one was really expecting the Big Tech firm, which has been focusing on expanding Chrome OS’s features for the past several years, to enable the gaming platform.
Instead, Google’s teams have been working hard to help Chromebooks run native apps from the Android operating system. Despite this, the Chrome OS itself is actually based on Linux. With that last bit in mind, it does make sense to include a Steam integration as the platform offers hundreds of games that support the open-source OS.
Moreover, Google’s decision to support a third-party gaming platform is strange for another reason. The company is currently knee-deep in trying to bring its Stadia game streaming service to life. Considering that games on Stadia don’t require powerful hardware, they make a lot of sense for Chromebook owners.
After all, with Google’s servers doing the heavy lifting, players could use their cheaper Chromebook to play top titles as long as they have a good Internet connection.
Of course, it may be that Google realizes the limitations of its fledgling service and wants to give players the best of both worlds. That is something that differentiates the Android/Chrome OS/Linux ecosystems from Apple.
Sign of Good Things to Come
Still, the problem remains that Chromebooks are traditionally low-powered devices. The large majority of these budget-friendly computers won’t be capable of playing most of Steam’s library of games.
As such, Google’s initiative to add support for the platform might be a sign of good things to come. In fact, Kan Liu, the Chrome OS product director, recently confirmed that more powerful Chromebooks are on the way.
It is widely believed that these devices will include powerful AMD processors. Once those arrive, Steam gaming might become more realistic for Chromebook owners who decide to upgrade.
For now, it isn’t clear when Google aims to have the compatibility ready. It could arrive as soon as this year, but there could also be some setbacks that delay it. It’s worth noting that Google is collaborating with Valve (Steam’s creator) to bring the project to life. The partnership is beneficial on both sides since it would give Steam the advantage of being the first major gaming storefront available on the platform.
Considering that games are the most popular download category in the Google Play storefront, the initiative could be lucrative. For gamers with a Chromebook, it is just as exciting.