After a bit of a false start last week, Steam is finally, officially available for a select few Chromebook models.
The Valve-owned digital storefront can now be accessed by the following models:
The relatively small number of compatible machines listed in this initial launch is due to the stringent requirements Google is applying to certify a Chromebook for use with Steam. Those hardware criteria state systems must include Intel XE graphics, an 11th generation Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU, and at least 8GB of memory.
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These rather lofty (for a Chromebook) required stats put the vast majority of Chromebook models ever released out of the running.
Making matters even more confusing is the fact that Google noted in its Chromium blog post about the new release that games designed to run on 6GB of RAM may actually struggle on systems with 8GB of RAM due to a known issue. Similarly, models with built-in display resolutions greater than 1080p may encounter "performance and scaling issues."
The company noted that it is "actively investigating ways to improve these issues," and also promised to update and expand the list of supported models once new hardware configurations receive approval.
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Between the aforementioned performance bugs, a lengthy list of known issues within Google's blog post, and the fact that installing Steam at all currently requires users to first install a Dev Channel version of Chrome OS, it's very obvious that Steam on Chromebooks remains in a beta, if not alpha, state.
That said, bringing one of the largest, most popular digital game storefronts on the planet to Chromebooks would certainly benefit both Google and Valve, if they can get it working well enough for enough user adoption to have a real impact on their respective sales charts.
If you have one of the few supported models and are feeling adventurous, details about how to get started installing Steam on your system are available at the blog post linked above. However, be aware that the process is a fairly technical one, and may not be advisable for users that rely on their Chromebooks for optimal stability when used for other applications.