Mobile gaming is going through a bit of a renaissance as of late. Gone are the days of cheap, primitive tie-in mobile games you’d buy for your crappy Nokia cellphone from some weird website. Now we have fancy app stores, high-tech smart phones, open-source, self-publishing, and all that cool stuff.
But Valve has never seemed to be too interested in the mobile space, or the portable space as a whole for that matter. Numerous homebrew ports of Valve games and plenty of Steam apps have popped up for all sorts of mobile/portable platforms. But never has Valve released anything official, anything substantial, to appease their fanbase, which is starting to realize gaming isn’t all about your home PC or your home console. But, no longer!
Yesterday, Valve revealed Steam for Mobile Devices, for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms. Steam Mobile, for short, allows you to connect to the Steam Community, and keep up with what’s going on with your Steam buddies, while on the go. Read the news, view and comment on screenshots (my favorite activity by far), chat with your Steam bros, engage in awkward Skyrim-related discussions, all of that is now a reality. You can even browse the Steam Store, view all the latest sales… and possibly buy things, though I can’t imagine if you’ll actually be able to play anything from your… Phone… or Pad… or Droid, or whatever it is you’re using. I could see Valve making a couple of mobile titles to get people interested, perhaps ports of existing Valve titles, but anything more than that? That might be out of Valve’s hands, and it sounds like it’d be unbelievably complicated. For the time being, it seems like this is meant to be more of a social experience, rather than a gaming platform.
Steam Mobile for iOS is compatible with… ”iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad” (although upcoming versions will bring support for the iPhone 3G, and the iPod touch 2nd generation), and it requires iOS 4.0 or later. Steam Mobile for Android is compatible with all Android devices running Android 2.1 and up. No word on whether support for Windows Phone 7 is planned, but I’d say it’s a possibility. The app is, of course, completely free. Steam Mobile is currently in closed beta. To sign up for beta access, all you need to do is download the app, start it up and sign in with your account. If you’re lucky, you might get chosen to participate in the beta. We’ve contacted Valve and we might be getting a couple of keys ourselves, so we’ll have more in-depth coverage on the beta very soon.
Here’s what Gabe said about Steam Mobile:
“The Steam app comes from many direct requests from our customers,” said Gabe Newell, co-founder and president of Valve. ”Seeing which of your friends are online and playing a game, sending quick messages, looking at screenshots for an upcoming game, or catching a sale – these are all features customers have requested. Mobile is changing way people interact, play games and consume media, and the Steam app is part of our commitment to meet customer demands and expand the service functionality of Steam to make it richer and more accessible for everyone.”
Words of wisdom. Thank you Gabe, and thank you Valve. Now all we need is Steam on the PlayStation Vita, and we are all set. Boosh!