Last week, Google incorrectly stated that an alpha version of Steam was ready for Chrome OS. It seems that the company has straightened things out a bit, as it just launched the Steam alpha for select Chromebooks.
We first heard about Steam for Chrome OS back in 2020, when the project was confirmed by Google. But this endeavor took a long time to pan out, mainly because Chrome OS is a Linux-based operating system and can’t run games designed for Windows or macOS (not natively, at least).
Valve has pushed developers to focus on Linux compatibility. But more importantly, the company created its Proton compatibility layer, which allows Linux machines to run Windows games with acceptable performance. Proton was mainly intended for the Linux-based Steam Deck, but it’s also the crux of Steam on Chrome OS.
Unfortunately, Chromebooks are rarely powerful enough to run high-end games. That’s why Google and Valve are only offering today’s alpha build for select Chromebooks with reasonably powerful hardware.
Here are the Chromebooks that can run today’s Steam alpha:
- Acer Chromebook 514 (CB514-1W)
- Acer Chromebook 515 (CB515-1W)
- Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (CP713-3W)
- ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5 (CX5500)
- ASUS Chromebook CX9 (CX9400)
- HP Pro c640 G2 Chromebook
- Lenovo 5i-14 Chromebook
And while Google will bring other Chromebooks into this test, it’s enforcing some interesting hardware requirements. The Steam alpha will only support Chromebooks with an 11th gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, Intel XE graphics, and a minimum of 8GB of RAM.
Customers who want to run the Steam alpha must enter the Chrome OS Dev channel, which is unfortunate, as these Dev builds can be quite buggy. They also need to enable a flag and run a terminal command—all the details are listed in Google’s installation instructions.
If you choose to run the Steam alpha, expect to encounter some bugs. This software is still a bit rocky, and Google is already aware of several issues. Additionally, the company suggests that you only run older AAA games, such as Portal or Skyrim.
Source: Google via Ars Technica