Home game streaming may be getting closer
So something a little unexpected this morning. Earlier this year, Valve quietly removed Steam Machines from the Hardware section of Steam. There was a bit of a splash on the internet, but Valve confirmed that they were still committed to both SteamOS and the Linux based console alternatives. You can even still directly see Steam Machines on the site. You just have to navigate directly.
The idea behind Steam Machines is appealing though. A low-cost machine that can play all your PC games and sit next to your consoles? What’s not to like – in theory. One issue though is a lot of PC games already have a console equivalent, so the market to me is a little niche for this.
Generally speaking, if I think a game is a couch game, I get it on a console. With improvements in console performance though, I will admit the definition of a couch game has widened somewhat over time. There are still some games that keyboard and mouse as a control scheme still rule, and it is with these games that PC shines.
Another fun little unit that I think may have hurt Steam Machines sales is the Steam Link. Coupled with the Steam Controller, this low power unit that streams gameplay from my PC to my TV. Because I already have a reasonably beefy gaming PC, the Steam Link is a great little unit for me. I get my higher end PC benefits, coupled with the Steam Machine couch experience.
Admittedly I didn’t get mine until they were insanely cheap at EB Games late last year, but it’s quite a clever bit of kit. I have used my Steam Link a bit, but it’s honestly far from a staple for me. The Steam Controller is quite good, but to me, it still misses a bit usage wise for a lot of games. Now configuration helps, and the Steam Controller is highly customisable. The main times I have used the Steam Link is when sick in bed, and the last thing I want to do is setup controllers when I’m like this.
So, a bright idea, with a few caveats. It’s the seeds of something greater, and I have been interested in where all this is going. Well, this morning, the next page has been revealed. Valve is releasing a Steam Link app, allowing you to stream games from your PC to your iOS or Android devices.
At the moment, the requirements are a little high. You need to be streaming on at least a 5GHz Wireless network. Wired ethernet is still preferred, but who plugs a network into their phone? Eventually, planned updates will allow streaming over the mobile network. While still niche, this may be where the Steam Link App shines.
I tried doing game streaming with the PS3/PS4 and the Vita, but being stuck in the same house just meant I played on the console 95% of the time.
The whole ‘depends on the game’ argument is dying as well. A few months ago, I would have said: “Who want’s to play PC games on their phone?”. Fortnite and PUBG Mobile have certainly shown the world the answer to this particular question.
The Steam Link App will also be paired with the Steam Video app. This is the part of the announcement that has my eyebrows raised the most. I do have a couple of videos as part of my Steam collection, but these were mainly promotional. Steam is not the platform I think of to watch movies or TV shows, Steam Link assisted or not. Everyone jokes about the quintillions of dollars we all spend during the biannual Steam sales, but maybe Valve is seriously looking to jump into the YouTube/Netflix space themselves?
It certainly is an interesting world we live in.