Valve has launched a standalone app for Steam Link on Apple’s macOS App Store, adding a new option for Mac users who want to play games on machines often labeled as poor gaming choices.
Steam Link allows users to stream games from a gaming PC to a supported device on the same local network and play those games using an MFI or Steam controller.
Valve already offered a full Steam app for macOS, but it takes up 1GB of space and has a reputation for being clunky. The Steam Link app, on the other hand, has a minimalistic interface that seems to have been designed with game controller peripherals in mind.
Valve has also previously offered a Steam Link app for iOS and iPadOS, but this is the first time the company has released software through Apple’s macOS App Store. (The full version of Steam is offered as a web download, not an App Store app.)
Game streaming has had a somewhat tumultuous history on Apple’s mobile platforms, but it has been a bit rosier on the macOS side. The same streaming features that Steam Link offers were already possible through the full Steam app for macOS, GeForce Now has a Mac client, and Mac users have long enjoyed the ability to stream PlayStation games with a barebones app.
In general, Mac gaming has had ups and downs over the years, and lately there has been a downward trend. Apple’s move from OpenGL to Metal provided much better performance for games that developers have bothered to support, but we’ve also seen fewer Mac ports from triple-A games lately.
However, many indies still support the Mac, and with the introduction of Macs with CPUs and GPUs that share an architecture with the chips found in iPhones and iPads, Apple has opened the door for iOS and iPadOS games to run natively. run on newer Macs.
However, our own testing of iOS and iPadOS games on the M1-equipped Macs launched last year showed it to be quite hit and miss, with interface issues and other limitations making for a subpar experience. As a result, macOS currently feels stuck between the two vast worlds of PC gaming and iPhone gaming, without yet fully leaning towards becoming an optimal platform for both.
Steam Link allows users to play high-quality, modern games on a MacBook Air or similar, as long as they have a solid Windows gaming PC on the same local network.
List image by Blondinrikard Fröberg / Flickr