In a move that should surprise basically no one, ‘Borealis’ (the inside name for the project that is bringing Steam gaming to Chromebooks) is getting controller support akin to what we currently have on Chrome OS for Stadia and GeForce NOW. Tested on ‘Kled’ – AKA the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 – this addition is a no-brainer that we’re not at all surprised to see in the works.
Chromebooks have become quite adept and working with many popular controllers and the support has only grown since Stadia became official over a year ago. With either a Bluetooth or wired connection, just about any controller we’ve tried works great with both Stadia and GeForce NOW in the web versions of both game streaming services. Honestly, the ease of use in this department is one of my favorite things about cloud gaming and Chrome’s overall support of multiple gaming controllers is mainly to thank, here.
It looks like the Chrome OS team is at work to bring that wide controller support over into the ‘Borealis’ container, too, and that is very good news. As time goes by, whether it’s the Crostini (Linux) container, the Steam container, the Parallels Windows container, or something else, the more compatibility that can be passed from Chrome OS into any given container is a huge win. These higher-level functionalities like microphone, camera, and Bluetooth support are important features that users expect to have access to when they fire up an application. They don’t care what container is running what application. They just need to to work.
While we don’t expect Borealis until the middle part of 2021, it’s important to note the releases in the Chromebook space we’ve seen just this week. With Intel’s updated 11th-gen processors and their stout Iris Xe graphics, AMD’s Ryzen chips and their Radeon Vega graphics all coming in the next few weeks, the market will be more ready than ever to leverage Steam games on their Chromebooks. Sure, big titles will still be out of reach, but there will be a lot of games these higher-end Chromebooks will be able to play as long as the ‘Borealis’ container is solid and functional. We’re looking forward to that eventuality very much.