Google says that an alpha version of Steam is finally available for Chrome OS users with specific machines to test, as long as they’re willing to run a beta operating system on their computers. This announcement comes after the company prematurely said that Valve’s PC game store was available last week before changing the tune to say it would be “coming soon”. While Google’s John Maletis, a Chrome OS VP, calls the “early days” for the software, it’s exciting that we’re finally getting a glimpse of what the Steam experience will look like on Chromebooks.
Google says the alpha will only be available on “a small set of recent Chromebooks” as it targets “devices that can run more games well.” (It’s also limited to certain configurations of those computers — more on that in a moment.) a blog post from the companythose Chromebooks are:
There are a few other caveats: Google only opens it up for configurations of those Chromebooks with Intel XE graphics, an 11th-generation i5 or i7 processor, and at least 8GB of RAM. The company also notes that if a game requires 6 GB of RAM, it may not work as well with a laptop with 8 GB of RAM. There are also apparently “performance and scaling issues” with displays running at resolutions above 1080p that Google is working to address.
The installation process also reflects the early state of the software – according to a post from Google, it involves switching your computer to the Dev channel version of Chrome OS, setting a flag, and entering a terminal command. After you’ve gone through all that, though, you should be ready to try out Steam and its games (Google has a list of what it recommends you try out, some of which have a few caveats). Google says that Steam on Chrome OS “will usually run the Linux version of a game,” but it also says that Proton, a compatibility layer for running Windows games, is also supported.
That’s a welcome surprise, though it does make sense given the effort Valve has put into the Linux gaming experience to make its Steam Deck console as capable as possible. Maletis even mentions Valve’s “deep investment in the Linux ecosystem” when talking about how Google has partnered with the company to get Steam working on Chrome OS.
Steam has been coming to Chromebooks for a long time — Google announced it in January 2020 and didn’t say much about it until last week. And given the number of warnings Google gives people about the alpha — it says “anything can break” and that “you’ll run into crashes, performance regressions, and never-before-seen bugs” while testing it — it might take a while for it to be a good one. idea to put it on your main Chromebook. Still, it’s nice to hear that it’s finally time to run it on real hardware, after all the waiting and rumors†