Local multiplayer's always been a strange fit for PC. Desktops, shockingly, live on desks, often in cramped corners with sole-occupant seating. It's rare indeed to find a PC setup with room for a sofa. Nevertheless, there are some absolute bangers on Steam, their tantalising multiplayer offerings locked away for those rare nights you can squeeze three mates into a bedroom.
Enter Steam Remote Play Together, a nifty piece of streaming tech that lets your pals join you on the sofa through the magic of the internet. They can even play through their phones. It's out now, and there's a great big sale on some of the best games to try it out with.
Remote Play Together entered open beta testing this time last month. An extension of Steam's existing Remote Play features, players can choose to host a game and let up to four others - or more, if the game allows - jump in via streaming. There's no patch needed to make it work, either. If a game's got local multiplayer, Remote Play Together will bring it online.
Only the host needs own and install a given game. Everyone else is delivered a live feed, with their own inputs fed back to the host computer. Remote players can play on phones and tablets through the Steam Chat and Steam Link apps too. It's quite similar to how things like Stadia work, only it's just you and your mates and nobody's emptying their wallet into Google's gaping maw.
Sure, everyone besides the host risks connection latency. Such is how game streaming works. But it's a compromise for games that keep their multiplayer locked firmly in local play. For example, while I've always wanted to give Pyre's surprisingly deep multiplayer a bash, I've never quite managed to asked someone round the flat for a quick game of wizard-basketball.
As part of the launch, Steam's gone and put a bunch of local (until now) multiplayer games on sale until Monday the 25th. There's a fair bloody few of them, too, with discounts cutting up to 90% off in some cases.