A new feature on Steam called Remote Play Together will soon let users play local co-op games online, Valve announced today. The system will expand on Steam’s existing Remote Play feature, which lets players stream games from their PC to other devices on their home network.
After spending years without any real competition in the digital distribution market, Steam is finally seeing some challengers, particularly the Epic Games Store. Despite not having many of the features that are central to Steam, the Epic Games Store has been snatching up exclusive games, often to the chagrin of some players. While Valve hasn’t addressed the threat from Epic directly, it has spent this year adding new features to its popular platform. Throughout the year, the look of Steam’s storefront has undergone some revisions, and Valve has tweaked its game discovery features to show more relevant recommendations to users. The move seems to have had the opposite effect in some cases, though, with indie games being buried by Steam’s new algorithm.
Remote Play Together is a much bigger step than Steam’s algorithm tweaks, adding a whole new feature to the storefront. News of the feature started spreading earlier this week, after Valve informed developers that it would soon enter beta, followed by official confirmation from Valve product designer Alden Kroll today. According to Valve, the beta is planned to start October 21 and any game on Steam with a local co-op component will be included. When it’s enabled, players will be able to invite friends into any local co-op game they’re playing. If the invitation is accepted, the game will be streamed from the host player’s computer to their friend’s system.
Today our team announced another great new platform feature that will be built into Steam: Remote Play Together. This will allow friends to play local co-op games together over the internet as though they were in the same room together. https://t.co/jEZyGoXEfc— Alden Kroll @ PAX Australia (@aldenkroll) October 10, 2019
Game streaming has exploded in popularity recently, with Remote Play Together looking like one of the more novel uses of the technology. Streaming is more typically associated with services like PlayStation Now and the upcoming Project xCloud, which allow players to stream games from a central server to their own devices, letting them play games they may not have the hardware to run. Some companies are taking the concept even further, building whole gaming platforms around streaming. Streaming brings its own challenges that providers will need to find solutions for, though, like Google’s claim that Stadia can predict button presses to eliminate latency.
Steam’s Remote Play Together beta will be interesting to watch. It’s a great feature in theory and it could breathe new life into countless multiplayer indie games without their own online components, but only if it works as intended. Remote Play can be laggy and unreliable even on a single local network, so it remains to be seen how Steam will handle this even more demanding feature. Either way, it’s good to see streaming applied to something more exciting than yet another subscription service.
Source: Alden Kroll/Twitter