Yesterday, ChromeOS 119 arrived right on time and the roll-out – from what we can tell so far – went off quite well. Upon early inspection, it seemed the only notable new thing to see with this update was the Material You makeover of the Chrome browser UI. But it turns out there’s at least one more surprise waiting for Chromebook users with this update.
Steam gaming is finally here (in beta)
I generally test for Steam in the Stable Channel with each update, and with ChromeOS 118, it was still behind a flag. I can’t remember how many versions it has been this way, but for me, a new feature hasn’t arrived until it is there waiting on you after an update with no strings attached.
Thus is the case with Steam on Chromebooks. Once you are updated to version 119, if you open you app drawer and search for Steam, you should find the Steam installer shortcut right there waiting for you. Please note that this will only work on devices that Google has deemed capable of running Steam and this feature is not for every single Chromebook available.
After hitting that installer, Steam will install as it always has and you can begin testing the limits of your Chromebook’s abilities by downloading, installing and playing some games. Those designed for Linux will work best, but Valve has done quite a bit of work on the Proton compatibility layer (mainly for their own, in-house Linux-powered Steam Deck), but that same effort makes Windows games run quite well on Chromebooks, too.
Just temper your expectations. Modern, AAA games are going to struggle on any laptop with only integrated graphics, so remember that going in. Even if the Steam container for ChromeOS is in perfect shape and the Proton compatibility layer is firing on all cylinders, the actual hardware is still a limitation that you have to acknowledge. Something like Counter Strike Source will run really well. Counter Strike 2? Not so much. For bigger games on a Chromebook, GeForce NOW is your friend.