Have you or someone you know recently become the proud owner of a shiny, new Chromebook? Perhaps you cashed in on one of the countless ChromeOS deals over the past few weeks and now, you’re poking around the web to see what exactly your new laptop can do. Based on the buzz around the internet, it’s quite possible that you may be looking for options to game on your Chromebook. Four or five years ago, your options would have been very limited. Android apps on ChromeOS were still in their infancy and Google’s streaming game service Stadia wasn’t even a thing.
Fast forward to 2022 and your options for playing games on ChromeOS have expanded substantially. Thanks to advances and online streaming game services and additions to the ChromeOS ecosystem, you have access to a plethora of mobile, web-based and even AAA desktop game titles. Big name games such as Fortnite, Modern Combat 5, Halo Infinite and many more are readily available at your fingertips and all you need is a decent internet connection to get up and running. Let’s take a look at all the different ways that you can get your game on with your new Chromebook.
Starting in 2017, all new Chromebooks debuting that year and beyond arrive with the ability to run Android applications. When you fire up a new Chromebook for the first time, the Google Play Store will be installed and enabled by default. Just as you’d find on your Android phone, you will see the Google Play Store app in your ChromeOS app launcher. From it, you can browse and install hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Android applications that you can install directly onto your Chromebook. This includes an immeasurable amount of mobile games.
Now, not all games are optimized for the larger screens found on Chromebooks but the number is increasing as developers take notice of the growing user base. As a matter of fact, the Google Play Store now includes an entire Chromebook section to help you discover games that have been optimized to work perfectly on your ChromeOS device. You’ll find titles like Asphalt 9, Angry Birds, Fishdom and many more. Even if the app you’re looking for hasn’t been tweaked for the big screen, you will find that most ChromeOS compatible games will run on ChromeOS.
In addition to a wide variety of games, the Google Play store offers loads of great Android apps for just about any application. Whether you’re looking for productivity tools, apps for content creation, video editing, or what have you, the Play Store is your one-stop-shop for installable applications on your Chromebook. If you don’t have the Play Store enabled on your Chromebook, you can do so by heading to the settings menu in the bottom-right corner of your screen. Click the tray and then, the gear icon. In the menu, click “Apps” on the left-hand side and click the “turn on” button next to the Play Store setting. If the device if for the kiddos, you can manage their Play Store usage directly from your Family Link app on your phone.
Look to the clouds
Streaming game services have come a long way over the past few years. While Google’s in-house game streaming may not have been the first on the market, some would argue that Stadia greatly aided in catapulting the market forward. Sadly, Stadia will soon be no more as Google sunsets the service on January 18, 2023. Thankfully, the door has opened to other platforms and given gamers some very solid, if not better options for playing their favorite titles directly from the cloud.
Leading the pack, NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW streaming game service offers up powerful game servers and access to games you already own on Ubisoft, Epic, and Steam. That’s on top of the numerous games available directly from GeForece Now’s library of paid and free-to-play games. Like Stadia an others, you’re running the games on hardware that lives on NVIDIA’s servers. That means that you don’t need a powerful laptop just a solid internet connection. GeForce Now even gives you the option to take advantage of higher FPS rates if you happen to have one of the recently announced gaming Chromebooks from ASUS, Acer, or Lenovo. GeForce now offers a free tier that gives you access to a basic gaming rig, standard game access and a 1-hour limit on session length. You can upgrade to a premium rig for as little as $9.99/month.
If GeForce Now doesn’t offer the titles you’re looking for or you happen to be a PC-minded gamer, Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming offers up a similar game streaming experience but instead of playing previously purchased games, you get access to a vast library of cloud-streaming games with a monthly subscription of $14.99/month.
Last on the list we have Amazon Luna. Another game streaming service that works on Chromebooks, Luna gives Prime members a rotating list of free-to-play games and access to your Ubisoft account content. For $9.99 a month, you can gain access to Luna+ which grabs you an ever-growing list of streaming titles that includes nearly 300 games at this point. Luna falls behind GeForce NOW and Xbox in number of titles but the free play for Prime members is a great way to get gaming on your Chromebook out of the box with no additional cost or setup if you have a Prime account.
Don’t discount Chrome
The beautiful thing about Chromebooks is that they are built around the web and therefore, can take advantage of most web-based applications out there in the wild. A quick Google search for “online games” will reveal an endless list of options. Some better than others. That said, there are thousands of websites where you can play browser-based games from any genre you can imagine. You can even find some really awesome game emulators that will take you back to your childhood with old school games like Super Mario or Legend of Zelda. Of course, you may have to deal with some ads but web-based games are a great way to pass some time at no charge.
One other gaming option for Chromebooks that should be widely available in 2023 is Steam. In case you hadn’t heard, Valve and Google have partnered up to bring official support for Steam to eligible Chromebooks. The project is delivered using the same container tech that brought Linux apps to ChromeOS and it will allow users to physically install games from Steam’s massive library directly on a Chromebook. If you’re using an eligible Chromebook with an Intel or AMD processor, you can access Steam right now if you head over to the Beta channel of ChromeOS. You can find the full list of supported devices here. If you’re a Steam gamer, you’ll have the ability to play nearly any game in your library using Steam’s compatibility layer Proton. Keep in mind, this is still in Beta and the user experience is still being ironed out.
Chromebooks were once considered little more than glorified web browsers but over the years, our beloved operating system has become one of the most capable and versatile on the market. Thanks to Android apps, Linux packages, and “cloud gaming” Chromebooks Google is looking to carve its name in the PC gaming sector and with all the gaming options available, a Chromebook makes an excellent device for gamers. Whether you’re a hardcore FPS player or a mobile-minded gamer that likes strategy games, there are options a plenty. Hope this helps you tap into the potential of your new Chromebook. Happy gaming.