Steam has arrived on Chromebooks — but there’s a catch

Asus Chromebook being used
(Image credit: Asus)

At long last, Steam has arrived on Chromebooks. Google confirmed that ChromeOS users will finally be able to natively access the popular gaming platform during its Google for Games Developer Summit keynote this week. 

It was an almost blink and you'll miss it moment, but during the presentation Google’s product director for games, Greg Hartell, confirmed that: “The Steam alpha just launched on Chromebook.” Curiously Hartell encouraged interested parties to head to the Chromebook forums for more information, but as of writing there haven’t been any official updates posted. 

A Chromebook-compatible version of Steam has been in the pipeline for a while now. It was leaked all the way back in early 2020 that Google was looking to bring the gaming platform Chromebooks. Speculation that a version of Steam for ChromeOS could come relatively soon intensified when it was reported earlier this year that gaming-focused Chromebooks are in the works. 

Even with these background rumbles, the official announcement still comes as a surprise. In particular, the way Steam for ChromeOS was included in the presentation raised a few eyebrows. The fairly significant news was given little spotlight, and was practically glossed over in favor of in depth discussions of Google Ads, Google Cloud and Stadia

Perhaps the reason that the announcement didn’t take centre stage is that for now Steam is only available in alpha form on Chromebooks. Which means a litany of bugs and glitches are to be expected. Plus, it’s only available on select Chromebooks out of the gate. Google has not released details of which machines currently have access to Steam but 9to5Google discovered what appears to be a compatibility list buried within that latest ChromeOS code. 

Once this version of Steam has been thoroughly vetted, we expect to see it rolled out to all Chromebook owners. Of course, many ChromeOS devices won't be capable of playing the latest blockbuster releases, but there are plenty of Chromebooks out there that could make for solid gaming machines. Perhaps in time a Chromebook will even breach our roundup of the best gaming laptops.  

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.