Google wants to bring Steam to Chromebooks

A Radeon-based Chromebook could soon be a thing you can buy.

Credit: Valve

Chromebook fans have been able to get their game on ever since Google Stadia launched in November, but a new report from Android Police claims that more might be on the way. According to an interview with Kan Liu, Director of Product Management for Chrome OS, Google is working toward bringing Steam support to Chromebooks, too.

Granted, this is Google we’re talking about, so it’s not all that surprising that they’re working on major features that may or may not get released. But taken at face value, this is a particularly interesting tidbit. It’s unclear whether Google is working in direct conjunction with Valve or if Steam support would even launch as an official feature, but Liu suggested Google is definitely serious about the project.

As Android Police reports, support would be enabled by tapping into Chrome OS’s Linux compatibility, not unlike how the Steam Linux client can technically run on Chromebooks using the Crostini Linux compatibility layer. But as gamers will attest, technically possible hardly means it’s a viable solution for actual gaming.

An official solution would change that, but it would still be constrained by the limitations of Chromebooks themselves—most Chromebooks lack the hardware required to play anything but the most basic retro-styled games. But Liu tells Android Police that Google will be offering higher-end Chromebook options as well: “Liu said we could expect that to change: more powerful Chromebooks, especially AMD Chromebooks, are coming. Liu would not explicitly confirm that any of these models would contain discrete Radeon graphics, but told us to stay tuned.”

That’s just as intriguing than the Steam rumor. Even the highest-end Chromebooks have GPUs that leave much to be desired, so a Chromebook with discrete Radeon graphics would represent a major boost in performance. If Steam support is something that Google and Valve will be launching in a real way, those are the kind of specs it will need to properly run, along with more local storage. Android Police notes that Liu wouldn’t confirm any rumors about enhanced graphics on Chromebooks.

But Chromebook fans certainly have a reason to be excited about the future. While Google’s roadmap hasn’t exactly been smooth, with tablet support fizzling out and Android apps struggling to catch on, it’s refreshing to see that Google hasn’t given up on Chromebooks being more than low-end disposable devices.

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Michael Simon

Michael Simon

PC World (US online)
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