Steam for Chrome OS is nearing a beta release, according to source code reviewed by Android Police. Once it launches, the Chromebook version of Steam will use a Proton compatibility layer to support PC games, much like the upcoming Steam Deck console.
As discovered by Android Police, the upcoming Chrome OS 98.0.4736.0 release (which should arrive in a few weeks) features two flags that enable “Borealis,” the code name for Steam on Chrome OS. Source code shows that Steam will eventually offer both Beta and Stable versions of its Chrome OS client, allowing some testers to try features early at the expense of reliability.
Because Chrome OS is based on Linux, it needs the Proton compatibility layer to run games that are technically only available on PC. But that’s where we enter a weird conversation—are Chromebooks even powerful enough to run “real” games?
Because Chrome OS is a very lightweight operating system, most Chromebooks run on affordable, low-power hardware. This hardware may be powerful enough to run some indie titles (it can run Android games), but playing Cyberpunk 2077 on a Chromebook may be an impossible task.
That is, unless you’re one of the insane Chromebook fans that purchased an overpowered machine like the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook or the Google Pixelbook. These devices stand up to most Windows laptops, and they should be great for undemanding games like Fall Guys or older titles like Fallout: New Vegas. As for AAA titles … well, you should probably use a game streaming service like GeForce NOW or Stadia instead of torturing your Chromebook.