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Just in case you hadn’t heard, Google is getting very serious about making ChromeOS a formidable gaming platform. Despite the untimely demise of Google’s streaming game service Stadia, the folks at Alphabet have high hopes that Chromebooks can still attract a wide range of gamers from every genre and platform imaginable. It all started back in 2016 when Google brought us the promise of the Play Store and Android apps on ChromeOS. It was a long and somewhat painful path but a few years later and Chromebooks now come with the Google Play Store out of the box.

Google is still fighting the good fight to encourage and enable developers to create Android apps that are designed to work on larger devices but the app ecosystem on ChromeOS is thriving and expanding more each and every day. That means that your Chromebook has access to thousands of Android games that offer optimized experiences on your Play Store-enabled device. More recently, Google has doubled down on cloud gaming and even though the company’s in-house streaming game service is rapidly approaching its end, select OEMs have partnered with Google to launch the first-ever “gaming” Chromebooks designed for the cloud gamer on the go. The addition of streaming platforms from Nvidia, Microsoft, and Amazon gives users access to major AAA titles that once eluded Chromebooks that lack the horsepower to run these sort of graphic-intensive games.

This is all awesome news for the ChromeOS world but there’s one other gaming platform that Google is very serious about adding to the Chromebook résumé. It has been nearly three years since Google shared that it was working with Valve to bring Steam gaming to ChromeOS. Because of the cloud-centric nature of Chromebooks, we freely presumed that this would arrive in the form of some sort of streaming like Valve’s own Steam Cloud Play. However, that was not the case.

Further developments revealed that Google was creating a container that would run Steam and its games natively in much the same way that ChromeOS runs Linux applications in a container locally on the actual device. This seemed a bit far-fetched because most Chromebooks, even the powerful Core i7 models, lacked any real graphics processing power as they were limited to Intel’s onboard UHD graphics. However, Intel recently debuted the company’s Iris Xe graphics that bring the Core CPUs graphics more on par with low to mid-range GPUs found in gaming devices. Iris Xe isn’t going to dance with the latest GPUs that cost hundreds or thousands of dollars but the onboard GPUs are capable of running a large number of games available from the Steam library.

After months and months in development, Google finally made the Steam gaming project official back in March of this year. Launching in Alpha, Steam on ChromeOS was only available in the experimental channels of ChromeOS and it required one of only a few devices along with a special “token” to enable Steam. Last month, Steam on ChromeOS graduated to beta and the project added more devices, more supported titles, and a slew of tweaks and bug fixes to improve the user experience. Enabling Steam on ChromeOS is now as simple as moving your Chromebook to the Beta channel of ChromeOS and enabling the “borealis” flag in the chrome://flags menu. Not tokens or often unstable developer channels.

Does your Chromebook support Steam?

The good news is that Google and Valve have expanding Steam support to late-gen devices that don’t necessarily have Iris Xe graphics or the most powerful onboard GPUs. As of last month, a wide variety of Chromebooks with Core i3/Ryzen 3(AMD 5000 series) and up processors can now access Steam gaming. You will need a device with at least 8GB of RAM and since these games are installed locally, you will need to have a fair amount of storage at your disposal. Thankfully, most of these higher-powered Chromebooks come with at least 128GB drives and up. Below, you will find the list of officially supported devices for accessing Steam on ChromeOS Beta.

So, these are the Chromebooks that are officially supported for Steam gaming but now, what are you going to play. Well, you can give any game in your library a try. As a matter of fact, Google and Valve are encouraging players to test their favorite titles and provide feedback with any bugs or issues. This will help developers to hone the user experience for a wider range of games. For now, there is a list of games that the Steam devs have tested and recommend you try. Some do require enabling Steam Play but we’ll cover that in a bit. Known issues or recommended settings are in parentheses.

  • A Short Hike
  • Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition
  • Age of Mythology: Extended Edition
  • Baba Is You
  • Besiege
  • Bloons TD 6
  • Bloons TD Battles 2
  • Celeste
  • Core Keeper
  • Cult of the Lamb
  • Cultist Simulator
  • Cuphead
  • Darkest Dungeon®
  • Dead Cells
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut
  • Dicey Dungeons
  • Disco Elysium (Long load time on initial launch)
  • Dishonored
  • Disney Dreamlight Valley
  • Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Set Graphics Quality Preset to Medium or lower)
  • Dome Keeper
  • Don’t Starve Together
  • DOOM
  • Dorfromantik
  • Enter the Gungeon
  • Escape Simulator
  • Euro Truck Simulator 2
  • Factorio
  • Fallout 4 (Set graphics quality to medium or lower. 16GB recommended)
  • Farm Together
  • Fishing Planet
  • Football Manager 2022
  • For The King
  • Gang Beasts
  • Geometry Dash
  • Grim Dawn
  • Gunfire Reborn
  • Hades (Select default version at launch)
  • Half-Life 2
  • Hearts of Iron IV
  • Hollow Knight
  • Human: Fall Flat (Set Advanced Video to Medium or lower)
  • Inscryption
  • Into the Breach
  • Katamari Damacy REROLL
  • Kerbal Space Program
  • Killer Queen Black
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • Loop Hero
  • Mini Metro
  • Mirror’s Edge
  • Monster Train
  • Muck
  • Northgard
  • Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition
  • Overcooked! 2
  • Oxygen Not Included
  • Papers, Please
  • PAYDAY 2
  • Portal 2
  • Prey
  • Project Zomboid
  • Return of the Obra Dinn
  • RimWorld
  • RISK: Global Domination
  • Shatter Remastered Deluxe
  • Shop Titans
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization V
  • Slay the Spire
  • Slime Rancher
  • STAR WARS™: The Old Republic™
  • Stardew Valley
  • Stellaris
  • Stormworks: Build and Rescue
  • Stumble Guys
  • Subnautica
  • Tabletop Simulator
  • Team Fortress 2 (Disable multicore rendering (Options > Graphics > Advanced)
  • Terraria
  • Tetris® Effect: Connected
  • The Battle of Polytopia
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition (Set graphics quality to medium or lower. 16GB recommended.)
  • The Jackbox Party Pack 8 Other party packs work well too!
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Set graphics and postprocessing to low. 16GB required.)
  • Tomb Raider (Use Proton 7.0-4)
  • Totally Accurate Battle Simulator
  • Two Point Hospital
  • Untitled Goose Game
  • Unturned
  • Vampire Survivors (May need to use public beta.)
  • Wingspan
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order
  • World of Tanks Blitz
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel

There you go. If you have one of the Chromebooks listed above, you now have access to an entirely new gaming platform and a slew of great game titles. If you’re doing some holiday shopping or just in the market for a new device and you enjoy playing games on your PC, you now know which devices will serve you best in the future. Remember, Steam on ChromeOS is still in Beta and you may experience some hiccups. I have a feeling that Google and Valve will continue with extensive testing before moving this project to a stable release. Hopefully, we will see it arrive by mid-2023. Oh, I didn’t forget Steam Play. Here’s how to enable Steam Play which will enable the Proton compatibility layer to play Windows-based titles on your Chromebook.

Enable for a single title

  • On the game’s library listing, click the settings cog
  • Select “Properties”
  • Select “Compatibility”
  • Check “Force the use of a specific Steam Play compatibility tool”
  • Proton Experimental is recommended

Enable platform wide for all eligible games

  • In the top left corner of the Steam client, select “Steam”
  • Select “Settings”
  • Select “Steam Play”
  • Check “Enable Steam Play for all other titles”
  • Proton Experimental is recommended

We’ll be testing a few titles in the coming weeks and we’ll let you know how the experience goes. Stay tuned. Learn more about the Steam on ChromeOS project here.