Steam Link app hopes to blow your mind with mobile game streaming

Starting in mid-May, Steam plans to release two apps for streaming games and video from your library to iOS and Android devices.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
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Lori Grunin
2 min read

Maybe it's time to start shopping on Steam with mobile in mind as well as desktop.

Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET

After a long lull, this is turning out to be a big year for cloud gaming. Nvidia's GeForce Now is still in beta but going strong, and now Valve is extending Steam's in-home game-streaming capability to iOS and Android devices that connect to the same network as the host system. 

The Steam Link app, which Valve plans to launch the week of May 21, will bring the ability to sling your game library to an Android phone, tablet or TV or an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV, as long as you've got a Steam host system connected to the same network as your device. Like many cloud solutions, Steam requires a 5GHz or Ethernet connection between the host and the router, as well as between the host (which can be Mac or PC) and the device.

Though it's rolling out at the same time, Android support will initially be in beta. Valve says the app will support the Steam Controller as well as MFI controllers.

During the summer, it plans to release a Steam Video app to stream your Steam video library to Android and iOS devices over Wi-Fi or LTE -- or view it offline. 

Thus far, the only system built out for streaming to a complete set of mobile devices is Blade Shadow, which has had other issues. Others all seem to be works in progress. It will be interesting to see how robust Valve's solution is in comparison; it won't limit you to HD, but to do higher resolutions will require a muscular host system and stable, high bandwidth on the network. But Steam is very well positioned to make it happen. We can't wait to give it a shot.

Steam has long been able to stream games from a local system to other systems on the same network, but mobile devices are new territory. Unfortunately, it still requires proximity to a host or a dedicated mobile app to play Fortnite away from home. But it's a big leap forward.

And since it can stream to Android TV, that means you'll likely be able to play on Nvidia's Big Format Gaming Display and its third-party versions, such as the HP Omen X 65, that were announced at CES 2018. Assuming they begin to ship this summer, that is, as Nvidia originally promised for its model.

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