If only there were some way to play all the #games we have on our high-powered gaming PC’s that we have hidden away in our bedroom/office/den on our #TV in the lounge, we would not need to buy a console again. #Console games are expensive, they have terrible controls and the #multiplayer modes consist of being repeatedly smacked down by pre-pubescent kids.
Wait. What’s this?
Valve is bringing in-home game streaming to everyone today, thanks to an update in to its Steam software that allows you to run a game on one PC and see and control it on another.
The streaming feature allows you to play certain Steam games over the same WiFi network on another machine allowing your big, hulking, liquid cooled gaming rig to do all of the heavy lifting and stream the game to your laptop in another room. It’s still in beta testing – you need to go to Steam>Settings>Account to enable it – and the host PC has to be running Windows, but it is a potential massive win for Valve.
The current implementation lets users adjust the game stream’s resolution and bandwidth usage. There are options to enable and disable hardware-accelerated decoding and encoding, as well. Valve suggested in January that hardware-assisted video encoding and decoding were key to reducing lag, so you probably want to leave those options enabled.
In-home streaming remains a work in progress, and there are still a few limitations. Surround-sound audio is converted to stereo right now, Valve says, and voice recording doesn’t work. The host requires a newer version of Windows, too. Windows XP, OS X, and Linux are apparently limited to client duty at the moment.
The advantage that Steam will have is in the fact that the service is operating system agnostic. Games from a Windows machine running Steam can be streamed to a Linux or Mac machine and vice versa. In fact, considering Valve’s push into the living room with the upcoming, Linux powered, Steam Machine consoles this could be the killer feature that turns the tide for the nascent player. While a noisy but infinitely more powerful gaming rig churns away making high frame rate, anti-aliased graphical goodness in another room, a small quiet Steam Machine (or home-brew build) is being used in the living room on a big screen to deliver the entertainment.