Valve Software is getting ready to launch a Steam Link app for Android, Apple iOS, and tvOS that allows PC gamers to stream their library of Steam games directly to compatible devices. But don’t too excited just yet: Steam streaming is still locked to your local network and won’t enable out-of-the-home game streaming like the PlayStation 4, despite supporting mobile devices.
Slated to launch on May 21, Valve’s Steam Link app will presumably be served up through Google Play for Android-based phones, tablets, TVs and set-top boxes, and through Apple’s App Store for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV (tvOS). The company did not mention a possible Steam Link app for MacOS.
Right now, Steam’s in-home streaming component works two ways, both of which require a PC that can simultaneously handle high-definition graphics and the stream output itself. Ideally, this PC is wired to the local network through one or two Ethernet connections although a good 5GHz wireless connection works, too. Meanwhile, the recipient device can be wired or wireless: A desktop or laptop logged into your Steam account (Windows, Linux, or MacOS), or Valve’s dedicated Steam Link set-top box.
For the Steam Link app, Valve specifically lists a wired or a 5GHz wireless connection. The company doesn’t say if the app will provide on-screen controls for touch-based input on smartphones and tablets, but what’s interesting here is that Valve is seemingly re-entering console territory without the Steam Machine. After all, you can stream the PlayStation 4 to a PlayStation Vita or compatible Sony-made mobile device.
As for input, Valve says the upcoming app will support the Steam Controller, MFi-based controllers, and “more across both platforms.” Never heard of MFi? That’s an Apple platform, meaning the controller is made specifically for iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. For instance, Apple lists the SteelSeries Nimbus and the Horipad Ultimate as the ideal wireless controllers for Apple TV, both of which are $50.
Finally, the Android, iOS, and tvOS versions will launch on May 21, but the Android variant will initially be offered as a beta given the multitude of Android-based devices on the market.
After Valve’s Steam Link app hits the scene later in May, the company will then introduce the Steam Video app later this summer. Rather than stream your library of PC games locally to Android and iOS devices, this app will stream all movies and TV shows purchased on Valve’s platform. Even more, customers won’t be locked down to their local network: Steam Video will support video streaming over an LTE mobile connection. You can also download video to your device for offline viewing.
Steam began offering movie rentals at the end of April 2016. The library has since grown to offer options to purchase movies, single TV episodes and full seasons. But the platform currently doesn’t have a large enough arsenal to compete with Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, and other digital media platforms. The current top sellers on Steam include Bleach season 3, Jigsaw, Saw, My Little Pony, and The Walking Dead season 7.