Chrome OS might soon be able to run desktop-grade games. A new report claims that Google is working in collaboration with Valve to officially bring the latter’s gaming platform, Steam, to Chrome OS. Kan Liu, director of product management for Chrome OS, confirmed to AndroidPolice that the search engine company has kicked off development on Steam for Chromebooks.
Chrome OS users already have the option to launch Steam on their Chromebooks through the operating system’s Linux support. However, the absence of an official integration means the gaming performance is barely on par leading to a crummy experience. In addition, since Chrome OS at the moment can’t run any advanced desktop software like video editors or games, none of the available Chromebooks come equipped with a dedicated GPU — even the ones that cost upwards of a thousand dollars.
Liu added that Chrome OS’s Steam client will run inside the operating system’s Linux environment itself but didn’t share any specifics on what kind of improvements both companies are primarily focusing on. He also didn’t comment on whether Google has reached out to GPU makers like Nvidia to optimize their chips for Chrome OS.
Even if this partnership leads to Chromebooks being able to effortlessly run casual desktop games, it will be a huge win for Chrome OS. Plus, it can potentially be Google’s ticket into the premium market and propel more software companies like Adobe to consider native Chrome OS clients. For Valve too, the deal can prove lucrative as it continues to face strong competition from emerging game stores from the likes of Epic. Chrome OS’s Steam compatibility is likely in early stages for now, and could take even years to land publicly if it ever does.
Since its inception, Chrome OS has evolved from being largely a web browser to a full-fledged operating system that you can buy with ultrabook-grade hardware. The arrival of Steam will unlock a new market for Chromebooks and fill another glaring hole in the whole package. Last year in August, Google also brought its platform for developing Android apps, Android Studio to Chrome OS.
We’ve reached out to Google for more information and will update the story once we have a response.