If you’re a user of multiple computers (as long as they run Linux, OS X or Windows) and you use Steam, this just might be the news you’ve been waiting to hear.
It was announced yesterday that the in-home game streaming service that Valve had in the works is now ready to roll out with an update of its Steam client. As mentioned before, you have to be running Linux, OS X, or Windows on the computers you’re going to stream to and from, but beyond that things sound like they’re running smoothly.
If you’re asking why this matters, the answer is actually pretty cool. A dream world where every game runs on everything is a far off reality, if not a complete fantasy, but this update can give us an illusion of it. Let’s take a game that you’ve got on your PC, and then let’s say that there’s not a version of it that works on Mac: not a problem. All you’ve gotta do is activate the game streaming and voila. Suddenly the game that isn’t even supposed to be played on your Mac is playing on your Mac.
I say it’s an illusion because of a little tiny drawback, which can barely be called that if you think about what’s happening. What Steam is actually doing is actively encoding a video and sending it to the computer that you’re streaming to. So you’re not seeing the game (hence the game won’t look like its native graphics) but a video of the video game you’re playing. Apparently if you value your eyes and don’t sit too close, there’s not a problem. Even if you’re up close it’s said that the quality is still “very good.”
I suppose another gripe that someone might be able to come up with is that the source PC (where the game is actually playing) is rendered unusable while it’s streaming. So you won’t be playing multiple games while you’re playing your game.
Awesome. Do I really need to say more? Yes, because this needs to be more than one line, but seriously, this is kind of amazing. I’m honestly surprised this concept wasn’t put into action sooner when it comes to Steam (they’re normally ahead of the curve), but it’s great to see it hitting the scene now. On top of that, since there’s never going to be peace between the users of different OSes, this is as close as we might ever get. Even more so, if you ever had the trouble of wanting to play X game on your TV PC but it’s installed on your bedroom Mac, this is gonna alleviate your troubles. Yes, this is a solution to one of the best examples of a “First World Problem” if I’ve ever heard one, but it’s a welcome addition to the popular service nonetheless. I don’t have all the tech to try this, but I’ll be glad to have it on the day I do.
Myles K Farrington is a new writer on the MONG team and a rather dapper fellow. Keep up with him over at IGNas well!