Steam Link by Valve is an app that proposes a unique way of accessing mainstream PC games on your iPhone and iPad. You log into your Steam account via the Steam Link app on your iPhone and all the games you’ve purchased on a PC will appear as an option to play. Then, all you do is play the game. However, the mechanism is a bit complex at the backend.
Due to Apple’s business policies, you cannot purchase games via the app. Android, however, has this option. On iOS, you will have to purchase them on your computer first. The game will then be streamed to your iPhone as an interactive video feed. Although, according to Steam, you need to have your computer connected to a 5GHz WiFi router and a subsequent internet connection in order to avoid lags and glitches.
Apple, however, didn’t initially accept this app into the App Store last year. It apparently meddled with Apple’s “store-within-a-store” guidelines. In lieu of that, Apple executive Phil Schiller said that Apple was working with Valve to bring Steam Link to iOS after saying the app violated “a number of guidelines around user-generated content, in-app purchases, [and] content codes” in an email to a user.
Thankfully, it’s available now. You can download the app on your iPhone, iPad, as well as Apple TV. Although playing a game on an iPhone/iPad that you can play on your desktop/laptop (cause it’s right in front of you) seems a bit superficial. The only logical use case I can think of is if you’d wanted to continue the game laying in your bed after sitting on the gaming seat for a while. The Apple TV compatibility is great, however, as, in theory, it turns your Apple TV into a full-fledged console. It’s a jackpot!
There are also a number of requirements in order to play Steam games on your iPhone/iPad/Apple TV. You may need an MFi certified controller or a steam controller. Additionally, Valve enlists these essentials:
iPhone or iPad running iOS 10 or higher.
Computer running Steam- Windows, Mac, or Linux
iOS device must be on the same local network as the computer running Steam.
For Best Performance:
Connect your computer using Ethernet to your 5Ghz WiFi router
Connect your iOS device to the 5GHz band of your WiFi network
Keep your iOS device within a reasonable range of your router
Everything seems proficient enough but everyone knows stuff that strongly depends on WiFi cannot be trusted due to inconsistent bandwidth and other issues that may or may not involve latency. In games like Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and other online multiplayer games where reflexes come into play, a slight delay due to poor WiFi can ruin the experience.
Also, when playing with iPhones and iPads, the relatively tiny batteries they encapsulate wouldn’t be your ideal, preferable support to play desktop-quality games.
Steam Link is available on the App Store right now, but I don’t see myself consistently accessing able PC games on my phone. Albeit, I know that I am going to love it on my Apple TV if the internet latency lives up to mine and Steam’s expectations. But on my iPhone, I think the urge to use the app often is gonna stagnate soon.