A key feature of the new SteamOS and Steam Machine ecosystem is the ability to stream games over home network connections, allowing users to render games on powerful PCs, but play them on small quiet devices in their living rooms. The concept is similar to the troubled OnLive service and the newly-announced PlayStation Now, except that it’s limited to home networks instead of the broader Internet.
After touting the feature for months, Valve has just enabled streaming in beta form to select testers, and videos of the feature in action are already appearing online. The shaky video above from YouTube user Devin Watson shows the popular early access zombie survival game DayZ streaming to a Lenovo T410, with an Intel Core i5 CPU and integrated graphics. Even though the laptop is relatively low-performance, the game still looks great because it’s being rendered on a high-performance gaming PC elsewhere in the home.
With little to no reported lag, Steam home streaming will not only give gamers the flexibility to enjoy their games on a wide variety of computing devices, it will also greatly enhance the value of Linux-based Steam Machines. Although Valve is pushing hard to drive development of games for Linux, the vast majority of games are still written for Windows. With streaming, however, a Windows gaming PC could easily render a game in the office and stream it to the Linux Steam Machine, instantly bolstering the number of titles that early Steam Machine owners can enjoy.
SteamOS is available now in beta form and is expected to launch later this year. Key features like home streaming are currently limited to select testers.