Gaming on ChromeOS has come a long way over the last decade. What started out as an impossibility — save for anything playable in a browser — has evolved into a cornucopia of options. Not only have Android games and cloud streaming transformed the best Chromebooks into capable methods for playing your favorite new titles, but Steam for ChromeOS has been in the development phase for years now. Today, Steam for Chromebooks is moving into beta, marking another step towards local PC gaming on Google’s OS.
We’ve known today’s move was coming for some time now, but it doesn’t make it any less exciting. Nearly seven months after Steam’s alpha client launched, anyone running ChromeOS 108.0.5359.24 or higher can now join in on the fun. Considering you previously needed to be running on Google’s Dev channel to install Steam, this change should bring plenty of new gamers into the fold. Google is also adding support for AMD Ryzen 5000 C-series and Intel 12th Gen Core CPUs, both of which should provide adequate power levels for gaming. Minimum requirements are lower too — down to just a Core i3 or Ryzen 3 — though those laptops will likely be limited in what they can play.
Unsurprisingly, the Steam experience has radically changed in moving from alpha to beta status. Google is focusing on improving the user experience while boosting performance and compatibility. That means support for DirectX 12 and Vulkan 13, scaling fixes for high-res QHD and UHD displays, improved power management, and much more.
Local storage has also been reworked, making it easier for games to grab DLC outside of Steam and improving file access performance for anything running on Proton. The installation process has been streamlined, requiring nothing more than an enabled flag and a quick search for Steam in the launcher. But perhaps most notable of all is the expanded support for software. Google added a ton of new games to its recommended list through these efforts, and the company promises more on the way.
As before, you’ll need some specific hardware to get ChromeOS up and running on the beta channel. All of these models are supported, so long as they’re running on a Core i3/Ryzen 3 or higher and at least 8GB of RAM.
- Acer Chromebook 514 (CB514-1W)
- Acer Chromebook 515 (CB515-1W)
- Acer Chromebook 516 GE
- Acer Chromebook Spin 514 (CP514-3H, CP514-3HH, CP514-3WH)
- Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (CP713-3W)
- Acer Chromebook Spin 714 (CP714-1WN)
- Acer Chromebook Vero 514
- ASUS Chromebook CX9 (CX9400)
- ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5 (CX5500)
- ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5 (CX5601)
- ASUS Chromebook Vibe CX55 Flip
- Framework Laptop Chromebook Edition
- HP Elite c640 14 inch G3 Chromebook
- HP Elite c645 G2 Chromebook
- HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook
- HP Pro c640 G2 Chromebook
- IdeaPad Gaming Chromebook 16
- Lenovo 5i-14 Chromebook
- Lenovo Flex 5i Chromebook 14
- Lenovo ThinkPad C14
And here’s a look at the full list of newly-recommended games, in addition to the titles announced back in March
|Age of Mythology: Extended Edition
|Bloons TD Battle 2
|Cult of the Lamb
|Dark Souls: Remastered
|Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut
|Disney Dreamlight Valley
|Enter the Gungeon
|Football Manager 2022
|For The King
|Hearts of Iron IV
|Into the Breach
|Katamari Damacy REROLL
|Killer Queen Black
|Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition
|Oxygen Not Included
|Shatter Remastered Deluxe
|Star Wars: The Old Republic
|Stormworks: Build and Rescue
|Tetris Effect: Connected
|The Battle of Polytopia
|Totally Accurate Battle Simulator
|Two Point Hospital
|Wolfenstein: The New Order
|Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel
Don’t feel too dismayed that titles like Persona 5 Royal aren’t here — other games will still work, albeit with the potential for more issues.
If you’re looking for a complete changelog detailing everything fixed in the move to beta, or a long list of known issues still affecting players, you can find them over at the ChromeOS dev blog. Both are a little too much detail to cover here, but if you’re running into some compatibility or performance issues, make sure to check there first. Not every bug has a workaround, but quite a few do.
Despite the imminent death of Stadia, Chromebooks are more focused on gaming than ever before. We’ve seen manufacturers launch all sorts of gaming-focused hardware, complete with the requisite RGB-lit keyboards and sleek gamer aesthetic. And while many of these devices still focus on cloud gaming above all else — lacking the necessary hardware to power titles like The Witcher 3 — it’s only a matter of time until we see discrete GPUs and powerful processors become the norm for Chromebooks.
Between Steam on ChromeOS, dedicated handhelds like the Steam Deck, and cloud gaming solutions like Nvidia’s GeForce Now, we’re truly living in a golden age of PC gaming. Hopefully, it won’t be long until Valve and Google bring Steam to stable builds of ChromeOS.