Valve’s local streaming Steam Link app hits Android & iOS

Steam Link

Valve’s Steam Link app – a beta version, at least – has rolled out onto Android, with an iOS version soon to follow. Now folks with any kind of modern tablet, phone or other free-roaming screen will be able to play their PC games library anywhere in the house through the power of low-latency video streaming, assuming your home Wi-fi is up to par.

You’ll need a relatively recent phone or tablet to get the most out of this, and ideally a Steam Controller or two (which recently was updated to play nicer with iOS), but at the price of free, it’s hard to complain.

The most surprising thing is that the Steam Link app works at all for me, given my cheap and ageing Android phone and its unwillingness to pair with any Bluetooth controller that I own. Despite these setbacks, the app does seem to work nicely, although I’m not sure whether to chalk up stuttering video to poor local Wi-fi (I do most things via Ethernet) or just my phone’s underpowered CPU not being able to keep up with the sheer volume of data. I still managed to play few turns of Battletech using purely touch-screen controls, which feels borderline magical.

Folks on less terrible devices (including our own Graham Smith) have reported that it works genuinely well, at least when paired with Valve’s own Steam controller, which I lack. While there is a frame or two’s worth of input lag, it shouldn’t be too much of an obstacle to playing most games, and apparently Apple TV owners can shave that latency down even further by just hooking their streaming device up to Ethernet as well. All in all, it does what Valve’s standalone Steam Link box did, just with fewer cables (and fewer USB ports, admittedly), and that’s a good deal for free.

The Steam Link app is free and live now via Google Play. It’ll be arriving on Apple’s iOS app store soon, with an Apple TV version soon to follow.

35 Comments

  1. Frog says:

    Huh, I’m on iOS so I have to wait. This could be fun though.

  2. SaintAn says:

    Been thinking how great Tales of Maj’Eyal would be on mobile lately, and I just tried and it is pretty good just using touch controls with this. Sadly I pay a whole lot of money for terrible internet so there’s too much lag.

    • grundus says:

      You could get a £35-ish 802.11ac-compatible router and connect your PC to it with a wire, then you’d have as little lag as you’re going to get with current WiFi standards. Your internet connection has nothing to do with it.

  3. Astaa says:

    Seems to work nicely. WTB huge battery pack.

  4. grundus says:

    Fallout 4 worked ok with my Xperia Z5 Compact until I tried to move, then it went out of the window. I have high hopes though because Steam streaming was pretty slow when it first launched on the desktop clients but is now almost entirely lag-free (when you’ve got 100mbit ethernet from the server to the router and 802.11ac to the client) and extremely impressive.

    I also remember using LimeLight (now MoonLight) on my phone while actually away from home and it was playable – that was back when I lived in a houseshare with 200MB Virgin FTTP and had a similarly fast connection at the other end for work. If that can do it, Steam Link can probably get there eventually too (but hopefully across AMD and Nvidia, MoonLight is Nvidia only because NVEnc).

  5. klops says:

    Hmh, perhaps I could try Qvadriga finally. I’ve had it for years now from some bundle, but don’t see it computer-installing-worthy but phone/tablet material. I only have a Steam code.

  6. KillahMate says:

    I think this will work best installed onto an Android/iOS set-top box; that way you can have a Steam Link integrated into a tiny cheap Kodi/Plex/emulator box under your TV. Like the hardware Steam Link device but with a bunch of additional features.

  7. temujin33 says:

    This guy reviews PC games for a living… Somebody buy this guy a steam controller, now!

  8. Stevostin says:

    I don’t get it. You can play game designed to be played either with keyb/mouse or pads on devices that don’t have those. The only games taking advantage of touch being generally already natively implemented on your device. Last time I checked Darkest Dungeon was a PITA on a Surface Pro, how will it be less of a disaster on an iPad?
    Apart from playing a few not too cluttered turn based games of the kind therés already typically a ton on those devices, I can’t see what to for a gamer with such feature.

    • jeffy777 says:

      Any game that can be played with a controller is ideal for this if you have a nice pad. Been using Moonlight for a couple years to stream Xcom 2 and Endless Space 2 to my tablet. ES2 doesn’t have native controller support, but the Steam config tool makes it a piece of cake to setup custom controls.

      • somnolentsurfer says:

        I’ve been playing ES2 on my iPad with Moonlight, but I don’t want to do that with a controller and the iPad balanced on my bed somehow. What I’d really like is decent touch controls, which should be perfectly possible for a game that’s entirely mouse controlled, but it’s really fiddly on Moonlight. Not very optimistic this will be much better, but guess I’ll have wait for the iOS version to find out.

  9. mitrovarr says:

    Tried it out. Even with my phone <1m from a 802.11ac router, directly connected to my PC with gigabit ethernet, it didn't work well. I think unless your network connection is ridiculously amazing, you're going to have a real bad time.

    • Themadcow says:

      Meh, tried it with my Samsung Tablet and it streamed Shadows of Mordor like a boss. No issue at all with timing blocks and attacks and perfectly acceptable visuals.

  10. Gurrah says:

    I don’t get it … who needs this? The assumption is you need a gaming PC in order to be able to stream the games so why not just play the games on the PC without all the hassle and faffing about with other devices. It’s a “solution” to a nonexistant problem in my eyes but I guess people are keen on it, otherwise Valve wouldn’t be pouring ressources into it.

    • Rich says:

      How about when you’re sitting on the sofa with the family, who insist on watching Coronation Street or some other crap? You can play a bit of Civ or Battletech on your phone, phablet, tablet what have you. Then there’s the option of playing you PC games through your Apple TV or any of a range of Android set top boxes, again from your sofa.

      • Cederic says:

        You leave your family. If they want time with you then they shouldn’t also be watching Coronation Street, and they should not be disrespecting you enough to make you sit in the same room while that abomination is on the TV.

        If people want to watch it in my home, that’s fine with me. They’re just not getting to dictate how I use my time while they do so.

        • grovberg says:

          You seem fun.

          Some of us like sitting in the same room as our family.

          • Cederic says:

            So spend time with your family. I’m not challenging this.

            I’m challenging the assumption that you should suffer shit soap opera in order to do so. I don’t think that’s a reasonable expectation.

    • UnfriendlyDevice says:

      Just because you can’t think of a circumstance it would work for you doesn’t invalidate it’s potential usefulness to anyone else.

      • Gurrah says:

        You’re right, it doesn’t. That’s precisely why I asked. I never said it shouldn’t be done, I just don’t get why.

    • jeffy777 says:

      Sitting on my couch or laying in bed with a tablet is much more comfortable than sitting in front of my PC.

  11. Rooksx says:

    My experience with the Steam Link hardware device is that it works poorly over wifi. Even if you’re in the same room as your router, there’s stuttering. You basically need both the Link and your PC to be plugged into the router by ethernet. Powerline adapters do work well so can extend the useful range of the Link.

  12. jaronimoe says:

    neat! I was waiting for a proper way to play pc games on my tablet/phone – somehow my current combination of IOS, moonlight and a non-optimally supported 3rd party bluetooth controller did not produce very compelling results – especially in terms of audio lag and controller setup..

    maybe now it’s time to finally get a steam controller.
    does anyone have a suggestion of how to clamp a steam controller to my phone/tablet?

  13. Booker says:

    I tried it on my tablet and all it does is say that it can’t find my PC. :(

  14. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    Worked very easily and illustrated the potential for having Hexcells on one’s phone. On the downside, the local and remote cursor positions desynched a little after a while, Android didn’t seem to transmit right-clicks from a bluetooth-connected mouse, and the app’s two-finger tap for right click only worked about 5% of the time. So: neat but room for improvement. :)

  15. jeffy777 says:

    Counting the days till the ios version.

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