raspberry pi steam link

How to play recent Steam games on your Raspberry Pi?

Do you enjoy Retropie and small games on Raspberry Pi? Probably
Are you running the last PC games on your Raspberry Pi? Nope
But since December 2018 it’s possible to play Steam games on your $35 computer

How to play recent Steam games on your Raspberry Pi?
A few years ago, Steam has launch a new console: the Steam Link
In fact, it wasn’t really a game console like the ones we were used to, but a repeater for a computer
And since a few months, it’s possible to install this console software on your Raspberry Pi

I’ll show you how to do this, it’s pretty simple
But I’ll start by explaining where it comes from and how it works

Steam Link history

As often, I’ll start by making sure you understand the background of this tutorial

Steam introduction

Steam is a well-known marketplace for games.
Like an app store on mobile, you can browse their game catalog, and then buy and download tons of games
Now, Steam has over 150 millions players and 15,000 games in store

Over the years, Steam has bring a lot of technology progress in the game distribution
Created in 2003, Steam arrived in a tough context, where the games were mainly sold in physical boxes
With the development of the Internet in the world, this concept is adopted by more and more players

Steam also worked for multi-platforms adoption in gaming
In 2010, they worked on a Mac OS version. And in 2013, a Linux version is available
This was a big step forward for these platforms.
Before that, they were out of the way in the video games world

Steam consoles

Steam also tried to bring his product on game consoles, with less success for the moment
They start by adding their software in the PlayStation 3 (for Portal2 for example)

In 2013, things sped up with the release of Steam OS and the beginning of the Steam Machine concept
Steam OS is a Linux distribution, based on Debian, which allows playing Steam games on another computer
And this computer is the Steam Machine, coming officially in 2015, and running Steam OS

Steam Link announcement

And finally in 2015, Steam announced a new hardware in this catalog: the Steam Link
The Steam Link is a small box, with USB, HDMI and RJ45 ports
It allows us to play our favorites games on the TV, like a console

But this little box is not really running the games
It’s only a screen sharing system, you see on the TV or your computer screen, and can play with other controllers

Steam Link on Raspberry Pi

There are a lot of common points between the Steam Link hardware and the Raspberry Pi

Here is what the Steam Link looks like inside the box:

steam link mainboard

Yes, a small single board running Debian, it reminds us something …

Recently, the Steam Link software was released in the Raspbian repository
So we can install it easily and freely on Raspberry Pi

That’s the goal of this post, so let’s move on to the installation process

How to turn your Raspberry Pi into a Steam Link?

Prerequisites

Raspbian installation

The first thing you need to do, if not already done, is to install the lastest Raspbian version on your Raspberry Pi
Choose the Desktop version and try to use a Raspberry Pi 3B+
Even if we are just in screen share, it’s a good idea to start with the more powerful Raspberry

If you don’t know how to install it, check my Raspbian installation guide here

Steam Link installation

Then follow the installation steps below:

  • Start a terminal, or connect via SSH
  • Update your system
    sudo apt update
    sudo apt upgrade
  • Install the Steam Link package
    sudo apt install steamlink

It’s already finished for the installation part

First start

Then start the application:

  • Open the applications menu
  • Go to Games and click on “Steam Link”
  • The app opens, click on “Get started”
  • If asked, pair your controller
    It’s mainly if you use the Steam controller (check it on Amazon if you’re interested)
    For USB controllers, just plug them, and Steam will detect them directly
  • Then, select the computer you want to use in the list
    steam connect computer
  • Finally, enter the pin on you computer’s screen to pair the two devices
    Steam starts some network tests, and just after you are ready to play

First game

Here is the screen you should get:
steam link start playing

Now click on “Start playing” and follow theses step:

  • The first time you click on “Start Playing”, Steam can ask you to install additional driver on the main computer
    In my case it was only an audio driver (to send the computer sound to the Raspberry Pi I think).
    Click on “Install” on the computer and it’s done
  • Then the Steam main screen appears
    It’s almost the same menu than on your PC
    steam menu
  • If you already have some games, go into “Library” and select one game
  • On the Game page, you have two main parts:
    • Your game:
      • This is where you can start the game
        You can also get other information like your statistics, friends playing this game and recent news
    • Manage game:
      • Here you have all the configuration and preferences for the game
        I recommend you to check at least the controller configuration
        Maybe the game controls don’t exactly fit your retro controller
        Or they will need keyboard key whereas it’s not convenient for gaming on Raspberry Pi
  • Then, in “Your game” click on “Launch game”
    The first time it can take a few minutes to configure the Steam Link correctly. Be patient
  • Finally, you are ready to play your favorite game:
    rocket league on raspberry pi

Extra tip

I don’t know if it might interest you, but I found something funny
If you force quit Steam on the computer (ALT+F4), the screen mirroring stays active

You gain access to your computer on the TV
This allows you to watch movies, pictures, documents or websites on your TV
If you don’t have a smart TV yet, this could be useful to bring the power of Windows apps on the Raspberry Pi

Related questions

How to exit the Steam Link app? Yes, I didn’t talk about this. On the main screen you have a power button in the top right. Click on it and click “Stop Streaming” to disconnect from this computer or “Turn Off Controller” to exit the app

Is there another way to use the Steam Link? Yes, the Steam Link is now available on smartphones and smart TV. If you have a recent TV, you don’t really need to use your Raspberry Pi. You can also play steam games on your phone, but I didn’t try this, I don’t really see how it can work.

Conclusion

Here it is, you know everything you need to use the Steam link on Raspberry Pi
This software is amazing!
It allows us to have a virtual game console in the living room, with the same games I can play on the PC
It’s really a good invention, and the Raspberry Pi is perfect for this

Leave a Comment