Valve rolls out feature that lets Steam users stream games to other home PCs

After launching as a beta to a limited number of testers in January, Valve has now officially launched its in-home streaming feature in Steam to all of its tens of millions of users. This will allow them to play their Steam library of games on multiple PCs on one home network.

Valve's announcement also includes a support page with some important details. One is that the host PC must be running Windows Vista, 7 or 8; XP is not supported for hosting, and neither are Linux or OS X. Another is that graphically demanding games must be streamed from a high-end computer with beefy hardware, if they're being streamed to a lower-end device like a cheap laptop or a home theater PC. One nice feature is that if you pause playing a Steam game on a PC, users can pick up where they left off on another computer in the same home network thanks to the new streaming feature.

The home network streaming feature is one of the keys to Valve's plans for its Steam Machines launch later in 2014. Over a dozen OEM partners are making their own systems that run on SteamOS but are also designed to connect to a Windows PC to stream Steam games.

Source: Valve | Image via Valve

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This pretty cool, it could mean having a "game server" tucked away somewhere (extremely well spec'd) out and stream games to various lower powered machines throughout the home. HTPC, business laptop, etc.

This could be suplimented by triggering a download/install from one of the clients whereby you could make the "server" headless!

Even more useful if it can manage multiple logins and remote sessions (haven't looked into this enough to know yet).

Just for ##### and giggles, I tried this from work through a VPN tunnel to home. It works, and relatively well.
I would, however, not suggest doing this if you're running on anything less than 10Mbit upstream on the host and 10Mbit downstream on the client, on a low streaming resolution with fast client quality.

Portal 2, doesn't seem to run sometimes, crashes with can't find steam library, and sometimes it works. Crashes right at the 3rd screen before the menu.

1080p streaming appears to introduce audio glitches. 720p works fine, I have a gigabit network/wireless n technologies. Nothing I could do would fix this. Host PC is plenty good enough.

In 720p it works quite well, one thing I unfortunately noticed was the inability to stream sourcemods. AKA; Black Mesa. This is a known limitation, due to "reasons".

Just tried this and it worked amazingly.

Desktop on gigabit wired
Surface pro on wireless N pretty close to router

Dark Souls 2 and Guild Wars 2 both ran at 60fps on the surface according to fraps

Worked brilliant when we tried it on our home network, there were a few lag spikes and bad performance but I'm willing to bet that's down to the slow network we had when we tested it (only 100Mbps). Now that we have full gigabit LAN, it shouldn't have those problems!

Been using this alot for a couple of months! Windows Server 2012r2, Nvidia 550ti, wired lan to rMBP though wireless. Setup work great, there were a couple of issues but over all i have enjoyed it!

Not knowing anything about it I thought it would be cool to see if it worked on my Mac Mini. I installed Steam on my MAC Mini. I thought there was some addon you had to download, but it's built right into Steam. I launched Steam on the Mac and launch MM X. The game runs flawlessly! This works very well. The only thing is I personally don't find much use for it. This is basically a play a game somewhere else device. That's all I see it being good for right now. If I want to play a game I'll just play it on the host naturally. Very cool though and works very well.

Sounds brilliant, can just keep my £30 graphics card in my HTPC and stream Steam games to it instead of buying a 2nd top-end card again.

trojan_market said,
but why would you do that? Hello??!!! if you want to play on your PC, you have steam Client right?
And what if you want to play some PC games whilst sitting on your sofa in the living room on a big TV? Having a gaming PC for a HTPC is overkill, but a normal HTPC can easily run this.

What if i want to play games on my laptop but don't want to waste 250GB of SSD space to store the games on both my laptop and my computer ?

If it works well it's gonna be cool.

LaP said,
What if i want to play games on my laptop but don't want to waste 250GB of SSD space to store the games on both my laptop and my computer ?

If it works well it's gonna be cool.


First of all it will not work well i can guarantee that because of home wifi bandwidth limitations unless you wire entire house with gigabyte cables which is stupid. waste of power and money.
Also there are remote desktop apps for streaming and games that does the same thing.

Ilys said,
And what if you want to play some PC games whilst sitting on your sofa in the living room on a big TV? Having a gaming PC for a HTPC is overkill, but a normal HTPC can easily run this.

If you're in living room you can play on console. I think you got it wrong. This is for streaming game from living room to other rooms pcs

trojan_market said,

First of all it will not work well i can guarantee that because of home wifi bandwidth limitations unless you wire entire house with gigabyte cables which is stupid. waste of power and money.
Also there are remote desktop apps for streaming and games that does the same thing.

Even with a relatively weak wifi signal the streaming does well (router in hallway, streaming through brick walls and ceilings to my T100 with only a few hiccups every now and then), but it is still better over wire.
Kitting your house with gigabit ethernet is not expensive, and if you're smart enough to plan ahead, use trunking and PoE, you'd never know it was there.
Most remote desktop software (RDP, VNC, Splashtop, etc) have very large latency in both refresh and input. They simply are not designed for use in game streaming, and the Splashtop that was designed for this purpose (THD) was absolute garbage.

trojan_market said,

If you're in living room you can play on console. I think you got it wrong. This is for streaming game from living room to other rooms pcs

Not everyone has a console, and not every PC game is on console anyway. This is for streaming games from your gaming PC in the bedroom/basement/man-cave to other, slower PCs (laptops, tablets, HTPCs). If your fastest PC is in the living room, you're doing it wrong and this feature probably isn't for you.

Even better is this latest update also allows you to selectively disable DLC for games.

So for games that have DLCs that can screw up the balance like Saints Row The Third and Sleeping Dogs it's now possible to disable the offending DLCs.

Sounds amazing, is it specifically for games purchased through STEAM or can it work with externally purchased games that i've added manually?

I'll jump on the assumption bandwagon and say it is only for Steam purchased titles. I'd imagine they might have to deal with piracy and licensing issues otherwise.

Lord Method Man said,

Can I add explorer.exe to Steam and stream my entire desktop?

Just tried it, explorer crashes.
However, you can just run any game that has a launcher and minimize it. You will then see the whole desktop.

Can someone explain how this works from a user perspective. I didn't think Steam let you run it on two computers at the same time with the same log-in (you have to log out of one computer to log in on another). If that is now supported though can one computer play one game while another plays a different one (same account different games?) When you stream from one to the other is the host computer captive or can someone lock the screen and "switch user" to another Windows account an use the computer (not steam and with an obvious performance impact?)

You have to be running the Steam beta on both systems first, otherwise it will log you out when trying to log in multiple times. Once both are running the beta, there will be a new menu in the options window, In-Home Streaming. Within that you should see the other PC listed. If it does not say Connected, you may have to restart Steam on one of the PCs.

Once both are connected, you will see the list of installed game on the host when looking on the client, with an extra pull-down menu where Play used to be (Stream, Install or Play).
When you stream, it will open and render the game on the host and stream that view to the client.

EDIT: You are streaming the desktop of the host to the client, so you cannot really use the host while streaming. However, because of this, if you were to minimize the game on the host, the client has access to the host as if it were a remote desktop, which it pretty much is.

Asmodai said,
Can someone explain how this works from a user perspective. I didn't think Steam let you run it on two computers at the same time with the same log-in (you have to log out of one computer to log in on another).

It seems to allow this now. I have a windows and linux machine with the native steam clients installed on each, and up until recently if I powered up the windows machine it would kick out the linux machine's client (I keep this machine on all the time). Now it doesn't, and both can be logged in simultaneously. I know the clients on both updated recently, so I guess that was one of the changes that came with it. Sweet!

Ilys said,

EDIT: You are streaming the desktop of the host to the client, so you cannot really use the host while streaming. However, because of this, if you were to minimize the game on the host, the client has access to the host as if it were a remote desktop, which it pretty much is.

Unless the Host is an Nivida optimus equipped laptop, then you seemingly get nothing but a blank screen, presumably because whilst the game is rendered on the Nvidia GPU the desktop is usually rendered on the onboard.

I got terrible Rubber banding when I tried it but it's probably that one or both of the machines aren't grunty enough.

(XPS l702x streaming to an Acer XC-603 running Kubuntu)

dragon2611 said,

Unless the Host is an Nivida optimus equipped laptop, then you seemingly get nothing but a blank screen, presumably because whilst the game is rendered on the Nvidia GPU the desktop is usually rendered on the onboard.

I got terrible Rubber banding when I tried it but it's probably that one or both of the machines aren't grunty enough.

(XPS l702x streaming to an Acer XC-603 running Kubuntu)


Have you tried running a game windowed? That may force the desktop to render using the onboard Nvidia chip rather than the onboard Intel.

Ilys said,

Have you tried running a game windowed? That may force the desktop to render using the onboard Nvidia chip rather than the onboard Intel.

It won't possibly setting it to only use the External monitor might as that's directly connected to the nvidia GPU.

The built-in display is connected to the Intel graphics card, Optimus works by rendering the game/app that's being accelerated on the Nvidia GPU and then copying the output directly into the Intels Frame Buffer.

dragon2611 said,

Unless the Host is an Nivida optimus equipped laptop, then you seemingly get nothing but a blank screen, presumably because whilst the game is rendered on the Nvidia GPU the desktop is usually rendered on the onboard.

I got terrible Rubber banding when I tried it but it's probably that one or both of the machines aren't grunty enough.

(XPS l702x streaming to an Acer XC-603 running Kubuntu)

Disable the Optimus "feature" in the bios. This corrected multiple issues for me.

synapse46 said,

Disable the Optimus "feature" in the bios. This corrected multiple issues for me.

You can't on the L702x not even with a mod bios besides there is no direct connection between the Nvidia GPU and the inbuilt display on this laptop, if you want to use the Nvidia card with the inbuilt panel you HAVE to use optimus

It's people like you two who prevent people who are actually willing and inclined to test products and provide meaningful input during the beta period from getting in. You're taking up space!

sweatshopking said,
been using it for months. or, should i say been TRYING to use it for months. it's garbage.

Is this wirless or wired? I'll be testing it on my HTPC. I'm assuming your bad experience would be due to being on wireless?

Any additional information you can provide would be helpful. Thanks. Do you think it isn't working well because of your host computer, networking, just plain buggy, what?

sweatshopking said,
been using it for months. or, should i say been TRYING to use it for months. it's garbage.

yea, guess what? So was Steam when it launched.

Its hardly garbage, and is in fact, wonderful - either wired or wireless (obviously performance is better on the former).