The official Steam Linux App for Chrome OS has been launched

Anyone who has read any of my blog posts before will be well aware I love playing games. You’ll also know that I love Chromebooks, the Chromebox, and Chrome OS. One thing I never thought I’d see all them years ago when Chrome OS was launched was the ability to play games.

This is going back to 2011 when the Chromebook was just a computer where you could do things in the browser. Since then we’ve seen the launch of Android, which meant you’ve been able to play Android App games since 2016. Although Android App games have their place, they will never be a replacement for in-depth PC games.

What I was more excited about was when we got to a stage where you could play PC games on the Chromebook. This was thanks to Nvidia GeForce Now, which allows you to stream PC games you’ve previously purchased on platforms such as Steam and Ubisoft. A fantastic service, which I use often to play games on my Chromebox. The only issue is you need a good internet connection to stream games on Nvidia GeForce Now.

Chromebook games played locally using Steam

Although at the moment I would strongly recommend playing PC games on a Chromebook using Nvidia GeForce Now. I accept this is only possible if you have a good internet connection. If you do have a good internet connection, then you’ll be very happy with the gaming experience.

If you don’t have a good internet connection or you just like playing PC games locally. Then the option you have is to play games using Steam. Steam was originally launched for Windows PCs, therefore, many of the games are only compatible with MS Windows. However, this is one of the challenges Steam has been working to resolve with the Linux Steam app.

At the moment you can install Steam without the app via Linux. This means you need to install Linux first on your Chromebook, which is pretty easy to do. This then allows you to install the Linux version of Steam. The issue is only relatively basic games work because most of the current Chromebooks have not been designed for local gaming.

The Valve Steam Deck

We’ve heard the news about Steam working with Google to create a Linux Steam app for some time now. I always thought we’d most likely not see it launched for the Chromebook until Valve launched the Steam Deck. This makes sense because the handheld Steam Deck runs on Linux.

The Steam Deck
The Steam Deck runs on Linux and is compatible with games made for MS-Windows

The fact that the Steam Deck works on Linux means Steam has already invested a lot of time into making Steam work on a Linux platform. The main part of this was getting Microsoft PC games to work on Linux without any compatibility issues. From what I’ve read steam has managed to get the Steam Deck to work with most Microsoft games.

Now that the Steam Deck has been launched. It means most of the technology to get Microsoft Games working on Linux can be transferred over to the Steam Linux App for the Chromebook. Therefore, the likelihood of the Steam Linux App being successful is pretty high, which is great news.

Steam Linux Chrome OS App in Alpha

What this basically means is that although the Steam Linux app has been announced. It’s only available in Alpha mode, which essentially means it’s a work in progress. Therefore, if you’re expecting to use the app without any issues you’ll be sadly disappointed. This may be the reason why Google did not make a big thing about the launch of the Steam Linux App. That makes sense because it will be some time before it’s workable for the masses.

At the moment it’s great news for anyone who likes to have access to the latest tech. Someone who is prepared for things to not go that smoothly. If this is you then I’m sure you cannot wait to get your hands on the new Steam Linux App for the Chromebook.

However, if you prefer a more polished experience where everything works. It’s definitely a good idea not to get too excited just yet. Personally speaking, I think we’ll have to wait for at least a year before we get to a stage where the Steam Linux App is something most people would be happy to use.

Only a select few Chromebooks will work with the Steam Linux App

At the moment there isn’t a huge number of Chromebooks, which will work with the Steam Linux App. This isn’t something that I’m too shocked about because the specs of most Chromebooks will simply be too low for local PC gaming.

This is another reason why the Steam Linux App isn’t something that is accessible for many Chrome OS users. That being said, I’m really glad the Steam Linux App has now been launched because it will help people make the right decisions when buying a Chromebook in the future. If you’re buying a Chromebook for gaming you’ll now have an idea of what to look for in terms of processing power.

I’m sure we’ll start to see many more Chromebooks launched in the next couple of years that are compatible with the Linux Steam app. If you’re wondering whether your current Chromebook is compatible with the app. Then take a look at this article where I’ve listed the Chromebooks currently compatible with the Steam Linux App.

I’ll be checking out the Steam Linux App

The good news is that the Asus CX5 Chromebook I bought last year is one of the Chromebooks that are compatible with the app. I’m pretty happy about this because it’s one of the reasons why I chose a Chromebook with such a powerful processor. I tried playing Cities Skylines on Steam, but it did not work. I’m hoping the Linux Steam app might give different results.

Asus CX5 Chromebook
My Asus CX5 Chromebook is compatible with the Steam Linux App

I opted for the Intel i5 version, which comes with an eleventh-generation quad-core processor. When I first bought it I did feel that I had such a powerful computer, which was simply wasted on Chrome OS. This is because Chrome OS works really well even on lower-powered Chrome OS laptops.

The launch of the Linux Steam App will mean I’ll be able to put my Asus CX5 through the test. Although it has been marked as being compatible. I’m not at present very hopeful that advanced games will work without any issues. I think we’ll need even more powerful Chromebooks to take full advantage of local PC gaming.

Summary

It’s great news to see the Linux Steam App has finally been launched for the Chromebook. It is something I was really excited about when I first heard about it over a year ago. However, I’ll admit Nvidia GeForce Now lets me play my favourite PC games on my Chromebox, so I already have what I need.

However, if you are looking forward to playing PC games locally. Then I think we are possibly about a year away or maybe a little longer before we are there. Once the Linux Steam App is working without too many issues and we have the Chromebooks to work with it. We will be in a position where Chrome OS has reached another milestone to make Chrome OS computers a great option for all.

Leave a comment