Google is moving forward with bringing Steam games to ChromeOS, with an upcoming upgrade from Alpha testing to Beta, allowing more players to enjoy.
When Google and Valve first made Steam available for Chromebooks, there was quite the arduous process to go through to install it. Long story short, you needed to enable a Chrome flag, open up a special terminal, and enter a complicated command with a passphrase. And even then you need to be on a compatible device!
Another crucial aspect of Steam for Chromebooks is that it’s currently only available on devices that are enrolled for Dev or Canary updates to ChromeOS. The advantage of these update channels is that updates roll out far more frequently — roughly every week for Dev and almost daily for Canary — but those updates aren’t nearly as stable and tested as a final ChromeOS release.
Having used both Dev and Canary builds “full time” on my personal Chromebooks, I can say with certainty that crashes and bugs do happen, and sometimes these can even force you to powerwash your device to get back running again. We don’t recommend that anyone use ChromeOS Dev or Canary for any long-term use, but that’s exactly what is currently required to enjoy Steam on your device.
That’s now changing, according to a newly posted code change. The new code is shockingly straightforward, removing ChromeOS Beta from the list of versions that are not allowed to install Steam (referred to in the code as “borealis”). The developer’s description goes further to explain that Steam on ChromeOS is getting ready to enter “beta development phase,” and that when that happens, Chromebooks on the Beta update channel will be allowed to install Steam.
That said, it seems we still have a bit more waiting to do before Steam on ChromeOS enters Beta testing. According to a second developer, this change is being stalled “until the time is right,” likely referring to when the beta phase actually begins.
All the same, Google is clearly getting all the pieces ready to expand Steam on ChromeOS, possibly in the next few weeks. Considering the experience has been in Alpha testing for nearly six months now, the timing certainly seems appropriate.
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