Steam for Chrome OS out now in early alpha on select Chromebooks

Steam on Chrome OS
(Image credit: Google)

What you need to know

  • Steam for Chrome OS, prematurely announced last week, is now available in an alpha state for a small number of Chromebooks and configurations.
  • Supported Chromebooks require Intel Iris Xe graphics, 11th Gen Core i5 or i7 processors, and at least 8GB of RAM.
  • Google provided a list of games already tested on the hardware such as Portal 2, Fallout 4, Dead Cells, Hollow Knight, Factorio, and more.

Google announced today that Valve's Steam gaming platform is now supported for Chrome OS in a very early alpha test on a select number of Chromebooks.

The company initially revealed the Steam for Chrome OS launch during a Google for Games Developer Summit presentation last week, saying it had "just launched," but did not detail any further information on supported models or how to install. Google later clarified to Android Central that the announcement was premature.

Starting today, a few Chromebook models can install an alpha build of Steam and try out almost any game on the platform. Here is the full list of supported Chromebooks at launch:

  • Acer Chromebook 514 (CB514-1W)
  • Acer Chromebook 515 (CB515-1W)
  • Acer Chromebook Spin 713 (CP713-3W)
  • ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5 (CX5500)
  • ASUS Chromebook CX9 (CX9400)
  • HP Pro c640 G2 Chromebook
  • Lenovo 5i-14 Chromebook

The list did not change much since revealed last month, but not all configurations in this initial lineup will be supported. Enabling Steam on Chrome OS requires Intel Iris Xe graphics, 11th Gen Core i5 or i7 processors, and at least 8GB of RAM. The company said these devices with an i3 processor or 4 GB of RAM are not supported.

Google also stressed that this is early alpha software, and should not be used on Chromebooks that are needed for school or work due to bugs and crashes. The install process is fairly simple by switching to the Dev channel, enabling a specific flag, and running a Crosh terminal command. The company set up an official website that includes instructions, known issues, and more about the process.

Chrome OS is based on Linux and Steam will run the Linux version of a game it it exists, or through Valve's Proton compatibility tool by enabling Steam Play. The tool allows Windows PC games to run on Linux, same as Valve's Steam Deck portable console. 

Google recommended a variety of games that have been tested to work on Chromebooks such as Half-Life 2, Hades, Stardew Valley, Cuphead, Disco Elysium, Civilization V, and more. Although, some games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt may require changing graphics quality or other settings to work properly.

The list of compatible Chromebooks that support Steam may be small now, but could widen to more models, including some of the best Chromebooks, after more testing. It is clear that Google has made gaming a bigger priority with its Chromebook line and even beyond its own Stadia platform.

Thomas J Meyer

Thomas Meyer fell in love with video games starting in the mid '90s with a NES, Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, and Jack Nicklaus' Greatest 18 Holes of Major Championship Golf. He hasn't stopped and is not planning to anytime soon. Freelance for Android Central and Windows Central.