I recently purchased a Steam Link and a Steam Controller for three different reasons. Firstly I liked the idea of playing some two player games in the living room with the misses and friends when they come over. Secondly I knew I could stream movies to my living room straight from my desktop replacing the need for my Apple TV box. Thirdly I wanted to see if it is possible to stream to Twitch from my living room using a webcam connected to the Steam Link, this would be truly awesome!
Let’s start with a brief history of my gaming life!
For years I invested a ton of money into new games consoles and the game titles that came with them. In my lifetime I have owned nearly every major console that was released, there are a few fringe consoles like the NeoGeo that I never owned but the main bulk of them have had me play them for hours and hours. I have also spent a ton of money on personal computers, laptops and upgrades year after year.
Lets take a look at the consoles, computers and handheld gaming devices I have owned over the past 30 years:
Ajax TV Game
ZX Spectrum +2
Nintendo Entertainment System
Sega Master System II
Commodore Amiga 2000
Sega Genesis Mega Drive
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Nintendo GameBoy Color
Sega Game Gear
Microsoft Xbox 360
Why did I stop buying consoles?
I never owned a PS4 or an Xbox One and I probably never will. I decided to permanently switch to gaming on the PC and I have never looked back. However I do miss sitting on the sofa and hammering a game pad from time to time. I also miss the fun of destroying a friend in split screen mode. I miss two player co-op games, I miss playing games like NHL, NFL and FIFA. I miss the Olympics style games. I really enjoyed the time I spent sat on the sofa playing these consoles.
The last two consoles I owned did not see much use. The Nintendo Wii and the PlayStation3. I owned a lot of games for the Wii (around 20 plus games) and I also purchased a lot of the added peripherals, fishing rods, gun holders, tennis bats, you name it I had it. For the PS3 I only really bought it because I was in need of a Blue-ray player, I own Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Need for Speed Shift.
But the bottom line is I didn’t really use either of these consoles and I have since sold my Wii to a family friend.
Enter the Steam Link
I like the idea of having all of my games in Steam. I like that I don’t have to keep physical copies of the games that I play and that I will always have access to the library of games that I buy on Steam and they will all be in one place.
I am super interested in streaming video games and that is exactly what the Steam Link does. It is not the same as broadcasting on Twitch but it still represents a wonderful opportunity for gamers. Streaming is becoming a huge part of gaming and I think the Steam Link is a step in the right direction from Valve. At $50 for the Steam Link and $50 for a Steam Controller this is a pill which is quite easy to swallow especially as I have already invested thousands of dollars on my gaming pc.
Streaming Movies with the Steam Link
I wanted to be able to stream movies to my television from my PC. Currently I have an Apple TV box and some of the things I watch are not on Netflix or iTunes. Currently I use my MacBook Pro to stream to the Apple TV box but this involves me copying files from my desktop to my MacBook using my Samsung T3, a process which takes about 5-10 minutes. The drive is insanely fast, but still I have to go from one room to the other and back again between machines. With the Steam Link you literally stream your entire desktop screen to your television. Anything you can do on your desktop you can do on your Television. Now I just open the movie directly on my desktop and it’s streams to my TV beautifully at 1080p and at 60 fames per second.
Using a SNES emulator with the Steam Link
I recently got into RetroArch and I have fallen back in love with SNES games. Titles like Super Mario World, Rock and Roll Racing and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Recently I worked out how to stream RetroArch to my television and now I can play Super Nintendo classics in my living room with a friend like it was 1991. I mean this by itself is simply amazing.
You can stream on Twitch using the Steam Link
I also managed to stream to Twitch from my living room using the Steam Link, admittedly I ended up using two active USB cables for the webcam but still I achieved what I wanted. I made a video diary about how that went and I will release it soon on my YouTube.
A great way to save money and invest in the future!
I have already spent thousands of dollars on my gaming pc and being able to leverage that power in my living room for just $100 has been amazing. After just 2 hours I was able to honestly say that it was a great investment. Now I know spending $100 is not how you save money, but I see desktop streaming as a huge part of the future, eventually games will even exist just in the cloud and local hard drives probably wont even be needed.
The Final Word
I am super happy with my Steam Link. It’s not perfect but it is a step in the right direction. You will have issues, for example sometimes I have to visit the other room and click something because the Steam Link looses it’s focus. You will probably have to run the Steam Link over Ethernet or PowerLAN adapters. People have reported issues with Wi-Fi. When the Steam Link works it is brilliant and it does work 99% of the time.
I only recommend buying one Steam Link Controller as it was designed to replace a mouse and keyboard and I think there are other better controller options out there. I currently own a DS4 Controller an Xbox PC Controller and an 8bitdo SFC30 all of which work brilliantly and where applicable with Bluetooth.
If you are looking at buying a Steam Link I think you will be happy as long as you have good connectivity. If you are hardcore PC gamer I think you will find the added investment of the Steam Link something which brings a huge amount of value for relatively little money. Plus you will save thousands of dollars on games in the future.