Steam is coming to mobile, although not quite how you’d expect
Valve, the creators and owners of PC game distribution platform Steam, today announced it would be bringing your Steam library to Android and iOS devices at the end of the month. It plans to do this via two separate apps, Steam Link and Steam Video.
Before you start dreaming of DotA 2 or Dark Souls on the go, there are limitations. Just like Valve’s streaming box of the same name, Steam Link simply streams your games library to your device. Just like Steam Link, this means you can only play your library over a local connection, and even then it only runs on a 5Ghz connection. Valve also hasn’t said what input devices it would be supporting beyond Steam controllers and MFi controllers.
You’d hope, and somewhat expect, Steam Link on mobile to offer mappable touch controls though – although that wouldn’t be the most ideal solution.
Valve’s second Steam app is Steam Video and, as its name implies, allows you to stream your video library from Steam over both Wi-Fi and mobile data. This may not sound overly impressive compared to many other streaming options on the market, but Steam does host a surprisingly large selection of video content. For instance, how could you ever say no to Mortal Kombat Legacy for free. FREE. Wonderfully cringe TV series aside, it’s also likely Valve has plans to push its video service more in the future.
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If I was to speculate why Valve is bringing both Steam Link to mobile, it’s likely due to the success of mobile titles like Fortnite Battle Royale and PUBG Mobile. Not only have they shown there’s an appetite to play PC-scale games on a small screen, but it already knows many players make use of Steam Link and Nvidia’s GameStream to play PC games away from their computer.
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Valve already has a Steam app on both iOS and Android so users can send messages and manage their accounts, as well as redeem games and set them to download while they’re away from their computer. As a concept, Steam Video makes a lot of sense, as it now lets people buy and stream video from Steam directly – a go-to place to buy and watch content if there’s a tasty Steam sale going on.
Steam Link integration for on-the-go play would also be a smart move, and Valve has likely experimented with it. However, due to the issues with reliable streaming over mobile networks, it’s likely they reigned it in to mimic their £50 Steam Link device’s functionality instead.
Steam Link is set for a 21 May release, with Steam Video coming “later this summer”. It’s believed both apps will be free, although Valve hasn’t explicitly stated as such.