It looks as though 2014 will be the year that Steam takes over our homes, even more than it already has for some PC gamers. Valve’s digital distribution software has already released more games this year than in the entirety of 2013, and its Steam controller and Steam Machines are both expected to be available before the end of the year. But Valve has never been a company to stop pushing ideas, and its latest Steam feature could be a very useful one.
Steam has launched In-Home Streaming to all 75 million of its service users, after a period of extensive beta testing at the start of the year. As published on the Steam website, this new feature means that gamers can now access their entire Steam library on devices other than their primary gaming PC by logging in to more than one device at a time.
“Players who have multiple computers at home can immediately take advantage of the new feature,” announced Valve. “When you log into Steam on two computers on the same network, they automatically connect, allowing you to remotely install, launch, and play games as though you were sitting at the remote PC.”
The benefits of this are twofold. First, it means that you can stream games to a massive living room TV if you have a secondary device to put aside, without the need to fork out for another gaming rig. Second, due to the very modest requirements for a receiving device, you can have the ability to play your whole Steam library, even high-spec titles, on a low-end laptop.
It’s also very simple to set up — in fact, Valve has given us a three-stage plan here. All that’s needed is to opt in to the Steam Client Beta, login to the beta client on both computers, and then launch the game. For more information on the service, you can check out Valve’s handy infographic. It comes with a glowing testimonial from Bandai Namco, who stated that “with good hardware and a fast home network, you’ll forget the game is running remotely.”
In-Home Streaming does not have full functionality just yet, though. Although you can currently stream to OS X, Steam OS and Linux devices, for now the host device has to be a Windows PC. Even then, the version of Windows has to be Windows Vista or higher. Valve has promised that there will be larger functionality in the future, with OS X, Steam OS and Linux stream hosting “coming soon.”
It also seems that Valve has even more plans for the streaming service. As well as being able to stream on Windows, OS X, Steam OS and Linux, there is “support for more systems coming soon.” So what other operating systems could Valve be bringing this service to? Could it be that Steam is looking into making its services available to stream on iOS and Android? Time will tell, but for now we can all settle for playing Dark Souls 2 in bed on lazy Sundays.