In an interview with Android Police last week at CES, Google’s Director of Product Management for Chrome OS, Kan Liu indicated that the Chrome team has been working on Steam support.
Now before you get too excited, there was no talk of delivery dates, so don’t go looking for Steam support in the next Chrome OS update release notes. Liu did elaborate slightly on how the feature would be implemented though, it would rely on the Linux compatibility in Chrome OS. According to Android Police’s David Ruddock, there was a strong indication that the Chrome Team is working directly with Valve on this project, but Liu would not give official confirmation of this fact.
This could be viewed as a hedge for Google against Stadia and the idea of cloud gaming being the answer for gaming on Chrome OS. Yes, we did see Samsung announce some impressive Chrome OS hardware at CES 2020, but the Galaxy Chromebook is still a far cry from a gaming laptop.
However, I think this is more likely just a way to augment casual gaming on Chrome OS, which at the moment is left to Android support and the Play Store. Liu cited gaming as the most popular category of Play Store downloads on Chromebooks and Steam would certainly open up a whole host of additional options even if AAA titles were beyond the scope of most Chromebooks.
While I do believe that a higher-end Chromebook market can and will exist, I find it more plausible that AAA on-device gaming will be ceded to high-end gaming laptops or consoles, cloud gaming is simply a cleaner solution to this problem for Chrome OS. However, this would make for a solid one-two punch with Steam covering casual titles and Stadia there for the high end when your actual hardware isn’t up to the task.
Speculating is fun, but Google was unwilling to provide any further comment on these efforts after the interview, so it seems a safe bet that we are quite a ways off from seeing this functionality hit our Chrome OS devices, but it’s an interesting potential sign of things to come for Chrome OS regardless.
Can you imagine yourself buying a gaming Chromebook if the hardware and Steam support were to arrive someday?
Source: Android Police