What if you're playing on your Windows desktop PC but want to continue the game from another part of the house, or even outside the house? If you use Smoking, Valve's PC gaming destination, you can circumvent the first part of this dilemma by using Steam Link, a home game streaming solution that uses your local network. And now there's also a way around the second one – with some caveats.
SummaryMake sure you have a good router or wired EthernetConfiguring your Steam client apps for streaming How to stream games remotely using Steam Link How to stream games at home using Steam Link
While the recent release of the Steam Deck provided gamers with a new way to play games away from their desks, the Steam Link feature allows you to stream your games from anywhere using an Android device or Apple with an Internet connection (RIP Steam Link Box). Even though Steam Link has been out of beta for a while, the service can still be an uphill battle even for power users, so don't be surprised if you experience inconsistent connectivity or performance.
So, let's start setting up Steam game streaming from desktop to desktop or between your desktop and mobile device.
It might be self-evident, but your network needs to be strong – if your Wi-Fi is weak, slow, congested, or has too much interference, you won't see good results. With a wired Ethernet connection on both ends, Steam streaming can seem virtually seamless inside your own home, but it can be completely unplayable with a poor wireless connection. Keep that in mind.
Image:Alice Newcome Beill
Configuring your Steam client applications for streaming
- Before streaming (at home or otherwise), you'll probably want to download or update to the latest version of the Steam desktop client for the best experience. If you want to stream games to your phone, download the Steam link client to your Android or Apple device. If you're streaming on another Windows macOS computer, all you need is to install the latest Steam client there as well, with no additional software required.
- If you're streaming on a mobile device, go to the Steam Link app settings on your phone and select "Other computer". A four-digit PIN will appear on your screen which you will enter on the desktop to complete the pairing process. If you're using two PCs, you won't need to pair them to stream at home; just log into the same account on the same network.
- Using the desktop Steam client, under the "Remote Play" menu, select "Pair Steam Link", then enter the code displayed on your phone. Make sure you are on the same network and follow the setup wizard until the pairing process is complete.
- At this point, you could start streaming, but first I recommend that you set a four-digit PIN to secure your connection between all remote apps and your PC. After all, you are giving full control of your computer to another device, so you need to apply good security measures. Here's how to set a PIN for Steam Link:
- On the same "Remote Play" settings page as before, select the "Set Security Code" button.
- Next, set a four-digit PIN by entering it in both fields, and click the "OK" button.
From now on, every time you attempt to stream from home or remotely, you will be required to enter the PIN.
You have finally completed the setup process! As long as you stay signed in to both Steam clients, you should be able to quickly use Steam Link streaming when you're on your own local network – or on the public internet, from your phone. More on that below.
How to stream games remotely using Steam Link
- First, you will need an internet connection with excellent download speeds. Even though Comcast gives you 150 Mbps, 5 Mbps downloads aren't going to cut it when you're uploading a hi-res video stream to the cloud.
- Assuming you have this connection and your devices are paired (see previous steps), you can start streaming games over the internet.
- To stream from mobile, start the Steam Link app and select the computer you added earlier.
- Select 'Start Playing', enter your four-digit PIN and press 'Connect'. Assuming your host PC isn't asleep, it should enter Steam Big Picture mode while simultaneously streaming to your phone. In my experience there is a slight delay in camera and input controls when used over an LTE connection on mobile, but this may vary depending on your network and location.
- In addition, you can select different control methods in the Steam Link mobile app. From the app's home screen, tap Settings, then "Controller". From there, you can stick with Steam's surprisingly robust and customizable touch input or pair a controller to your phone that the host PC will recognize.
How to stream games at home using Steam Link
- Streaming games on your home network is basically the same as streaming over the internet. You just need to be signed in to Steam (using the same account and network) on both devices, whether mobile or desktop.
- With your Windows host or PC (where the game is streaming from) and your streaming destination (Android phone, another PC, etc.) configured, simply select a game from your library on the receiving device. On Windows or macOS desktops, this would involve going to your games library and clicking "Streamer" on one of your games. On the Steam Link app, simply press the "Start Playing" button.
- The host PC and receiver should now display identical streams of the game in question.
Updated March 7, 2021, 2:20 PM ET: This article was originally published on April 3, 2019; instructions and screenshots have been updated.