When the Steam Link app was first launched in 2018, I was impressed. As long as you were on the same network as your PC, you could play your Steam games on your phone. But now it is even more impressive. By enabling some additional settings, you can play your Steam library on mobile data anywhere in the world.
The new Steam feature, called Play Anywhere, is the same name. Commute to work? You can play your PC games. In the park? You can play your PC games. As long as you have a good LTE connection, you can stream your games to your phone. With this feature and a wired or wireless controller, this comes closest to a Steamboy.
What you need
- Computer capable of playing over Ethernet or 5 GHz Wi-Fi
- Strong LTE signal or strong Wi-Fi (if using Wi-Fi outside your home)
- Steam desktop Client
- Android device with 5.0 or newer, iPhone with iOS 1
- gaming controller (optional)
Step 1: Download Steam Link
After almost One year of Beta on Android (and a difficult start enforcing removal from the App Store), the stable version of Steam Link is now available for free on both platforms.
For the initial setup you need to be at your computer. Make sure you're signed in to Steam and it's running. Otherwise you will not be able to connect.
If you want to play your games on your phone after connecting, Steam must be running on your PC. This means that your PC is on and running before you leave the house. Since your PC renders the game and streams it over the Internet, it must be enabled for you to play it on your phone.
Now open the Steam Link app on your phone and select "Getting Started" and you'll be asked to pair a controller with your phone. Ideally, you want to pair a wired or wireless controller, as the touch controls (as with most mobile games) overlay the image and affect the graphics of the game. Tap on "Pair Steam Controller" or "Pair Other Controllers" and follow the instructions.
Although not all game controllers support, there is a growing library that supports this. None, however, is designed for the touch screen, making navigating a bit complicated. During my tests, I used the Razer Raiju Mobile, which is perfect for games with controller support.
After connecting a controller (or selecting touch controls)) Steam Link will automatically search your network for a PC running Steam. When it finds your PC, you will receive a four-digit PIN that you must enter into your PC.
If Steam Link can not find your computer, select "Other Computers" for a four-digit PIN code. Select Steam on the PC (top left corner of the display), select "Settings" from the drop-down menu and then "Remote Play". Select "Pair Steam Link" and enter the PIN.
If you did this right, your phone will now show the name of your PC. Select your PC to connect. Steam Link then performs a network test to determine how strong (or weak) your connection is. Upon completion of the test, Steam Link will pop-up your bandwidth. Select "OK" and Steam Link will redirect you to its main page.
Step 4: Enjoy your games on the go
On the main page Select "Start Playing" in the Steam Link app. This puts Steam on your PC in Big Picture mode to make navigation easier. Choose your library to find the games you own and want to play. Navigate to the game you want to play, select "Play" and enjoy your Steam Library wherever you want.
Tip: Navigate to "Installed" and select the Filter button (the default setting for the controller is "Y") and select "Controller Supported". This will reduce your list to games where controllers are fully supported. This makes the game easier to play and in some cases playable.
Since you're streaming a 1080p video from your PC to your phone, this will be inherent in your data plan affect. We strongly recommend that you have an unlimited plan, especially if you want to use this app frequently. If you have a data restriction, keep in mind that this will devour your data and plan accordingly.
Even if you use LTE, your connection is likely to be considered bad. During my tests, I could only make a good connection if I went to a nearby park. For most places I had bad signal and video was barely visible. Hopefully this problem will be resolved soon.
Note that latency will be a problem. Because you are sending commands over the Internet, which may be hundreds of miles away, there is a delay in input. Try to stick to games that do not require precise input, otherwise you will not have a pleasant experience.
Finally, Steam Link will always target the resolution of your phone, if the game does not support the resolution of your phone it will not happen. Computer monitor and smartphone differ greatly in terms of aspect ratio, especially since smartphones have hunted the bezelless design. Play with the graphics settings to find the resolution that best suits your phone.
This article was written during the special Reporting created by Gadget Hacks about mobile gaming. Take a look at the entire gaming series.