Google released full details in Chromium, stating that since this is an early, alpha-quality version of Steam on Chrome OS, “anything can break.” Users aren’t recommended to test out Steam Alpha on a Chromebook you rely on, as it could lead to “crashes, performance regressions, and never-before-seen bugs.” Still, the long-rumored gaming platform on Chrome OS is here, and the results are positive. Tentatively announced during Google’s Game Developer Summit and later confirmed via a small update, Steam has come to a small set of Chromebooks with specific specs. Chromebooks will need to have at least an 11th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU and a minimum of 7GB of RAM. Chromebooks include:
The Witcher 3, Hades, and more are now available on Chromebooks thanks to Steam Alpha. On select Chromebooks, an alpha-quality build of Steam for Chrome OS is now available, with videos showing classic PC titles like Portal 2, Half-Life 2, Stardew Valley, and others operating properly. The feature, though, is still very much “in progress.”
News outlets 9to5Google (video) and Chrome Unboxed (video) have both showcased hands-on impressions of how Steam runs on Chrome OS, playing a selection of titles Google recommends and more. Games such as Portal 2 and Half-Life 2 reportedly ran smoothly at 60 fps without any input lag or performance issues. Other titles including Stardew Valley and Slime Rancher also played well, but settings needed to be adjusted or put on low graphics settings.
This is only an initial list and is expected to grow closer to the official release of Steam on Chrome OS. There are also issues Google is investigating, including devices with 8GB of RAM encountering issues in games that require 6GB of RAM, along with devices with display resolutions greater than 1080p having performance and scaling issues.
There currently isn’t a specific date when Steam will come to Beta or Stable channels, and Google even states that some Chromebooks lack the necessary hardware to support the gaming client. However, it does say: “as new, compatible devices come out, we will update the supported device list.”
9to5Google also tried Cities: Skylines, but crashed Chrome OS on its first launch and continued to be unplayable. Risk of Rain 2 was also another contender, and even though it was reportedly slow to start, it still ran at 40 fps. Google outlines a list of 50 games the team has tried and work well, including Hades, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Left 4 Dead 2, Divinity: Original Sin 2, Cuphead, Tekken 7, Fallout 4, Disco Elysium, and more.
It’s exciting to see Chromebooks being viable gaming laptops, and we can’t wait to check out the official version once it arrives. While we don’t expect Chromebooks to match the performance of the best gaming laptops, Steam coming to Chrome OS offers more affordable ways to play PC games.
Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from washing machines designed for AirPods to the mischievous world of cyberattacks. Whether it’s connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for gadgets into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. With a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from The University of Sheffield, along with short stints at Kerrang! and Exposed Magazine, Darragh started his career writing about the tech industry at Time Out Dubai and ShortList Dubai, covering everything from the latest iPhone models and Huawei laptops to massive Esports events in the Middle East. Now, he can be found proudly diving into gaming, gadgets, and letting readers know the joys of docking stations for Laptop Mag.