It’s true, 60 fps on a combination on high and very high settings at 1920x1080. That also happens to be the exact same settings that GTA V is configured to on my desktop PC. That gave it away didn’t it? I’m streaming the game over the home network.
While the feature has been available since May last year, I’ve only recently discovered it when my Steam client alerted me that I have two devices on the same network with Steam up and running on both and if I wanted to enable In-Home Streaming. Skeptical at first, it was a pleasant surprise to see how well streaming games worked.
The feature will stream any game in your Steam library along with the audio, so in this case, game sounds emanate from the Surface’s speakers. It also allows you to connect a controller to the client device and stream its input back to the host computer, into the game, then back again to the client. It works very well considering your network is strong, and there isn’t any noticeable lag, it just works.
Unfortunately, it does have one major disadvantage; multitasking. In order for streaming to work, the game obviously has to run on the host computer first, but the game doesn’t run in the background, it runs full-screen, just as it would normally. This means that you can’t stream a game to another device and use the host computer for other tasks at the same time.
I tried to work around this by minimizing the games on the host computer, but this just made them disappear from the client device as well. I also tried running the games in windowed mode, this kept them streaming, however, the moment you click away and the game is no longer the active windows, it stops streaming, so it seems there no working around this issue.
Aside from GTA V, I’ve tried steaming Ori and the Blind Forest, Batman: Arkham Origins, Just Cause 2, and F1 2013 among others, and all work just as expected. Touch support works as well for menu navigation, but not so much in-game. This will depend on the game UI and controls as Steam does not overlay any touch-specific controls.
For personal use, I don’t see much reason to stream games to the Surface. Why would anyone pass on larger PC displays for a 10” screen? Although it may come in handy on sick days when you would rather just stay in bed, or if you want to game when you’re away from your PC.
Battery life isn’t impacted as greatly as it would be if games ran natively, but there is a noticeable drain since Wi-Fi and the screen display are in constant use. However, the experience itself is phenomenal, it just works so well. If you are able to try it out, do so and let us know what you think.
Microsoft will also introduce game streaming in Windows 10 via the new Xbox app, and it’s expected to be a big hit as it will finally bring exclusive Xbox games to the PC like Forza and the Halo franchise. Until then, you can stream games with Steam.