Chrome OS isn't "just a web browser" anymore, as so many of its critics alleged in the platform's early days. It's come a long way, adding dedicated apps through the Play Store while working to improve productivity. Google is also working to bring Steam to Chrome OS with Borealis, but that on its own just isn't enough. Vulkan and its low-level API support are needed to provide a big boost of performance power for gaming, and it's getting closer than ever to reality.
For the last 4 years, the Nintendo Switch has been out on its own as the best portable gaming experience outside of playing on your smartphone. Other attempts at a portable gaming PC have come and gone without much success, but for the first time, the Switch may have a real contender.
Linux for Chromebooks has come a long way since Google introduced it in Chrome OS 69 a couple of years ago. On supported devices, it opened the door to an extensive library of desktop apps for users, like video editing tools and IDEs. GPU acceleration was an important milestone that made graphic intensive Linux app usable on Chrome OS. This is thanks to Virgil 3D, a component that allows the Linux container to tap into the hardware's GPU. In exciting news shared by Luke Short from VMware, Google is working on adding Vulkan passthrough into Virgil to improve app performance.
We exclusively reported that Google is working on bringing official Steam support to Chromebooks back in 2020. Parallel to developing a new Linux container better suited for games, the company is now additionally experimenting with a new "Game Mode" that could bring some further performance to the upcoming Linux container.
Nvidia's GeForce Now started with the promise of running all your existing PC games in the cloud, but game studios started pullinggames shortly after the service's launch. GeForce Now is slowly addressing complaints from both customers and developers, and one major criticism — finding out which of your Steam games work on GeForce Now — is now much less of a pain.
Back in January, we exclusively reported that Google wants to add Steam to Chrome OS and introduce more powerful Chromebooks, possibly running on AMD silicon. Now further details have emerged. 9to5Google found a new Linux emulator in the Google's Chromium Gerrit codenamed "Borealis" that includes a pre-installed copy of Steam. It might even replace the current Linux implementation in the long term.
With the launch of Stadia, cloud gaming has received a ton of public attention, and many other companies working on game streaming have benefitted from the curiosity, too. In fact, Steam has had Remote Play, its own local-machine-based streaming service, for a long time already, and now a neat addition to it has left its beta tag behind. It's Remote Play Together, and as the name suggests, it lets you share local multiplayer games online with up to four players.
Valve announced some big news for Steam users today, introducing the new Steam Link Anywhere service. Building off of its namesake, Anywhere takes streaming your personal library to the next level by allowing you to play on a client device outside of your local network (which was one of the weakest points of Steam Link when it launched for Android). To coincide with the announcement of the Anywhere beta, Valve has updated the Steam Link Android app to support it.
Steam, despite some controversial competition lately, is still the king of PC gaming — the ubiquitous platform sports a massive list of features, even basic ones like a shopping cart. One of the areas where Steam has struggled, however, is the quality of its mobile app. Now, Steam Link is a fine application and I use it almost daily, but the main one is just... rough. One of Steam's most robust features is its communication tools and Chat, one of the core elements of that, just got separated out into its own app and I have to say, it's pretty nice.