You Can Try Steam's Online "Local Multiplayer" For Yourself Now. Here's How

You Can Try Steam's Online "Local Multiplayer" For Yourself Now. Here's How

Steam Beta participants can now hop into local multiplayer-only games via the internet.

Remote Play Together, Steam's new feature that lets people play local multiplayer games over the internet via streaming, is now live for participants in the Steam Client Beta. The feature supports up to four players in a game, works cross-platform, and even lets players share control of a keyboard and mouse.

Valve's official announcement for Remote Play Together goes light on technical details in favor of telling readers how to get it up and running. Anyone can opt into the Steam Client Beta, and from there it's as simple as launching a local multiplayer game and inviting a friend through the Steam Overlay. Then, the game in question reads other players' inputs like they're from another controller plugged into the host's machine.

Ars Technica's report on Remote Play Together goes deeper on how the feature actually functions. The host of a Remote Play Together session streams out a video feed of the game from their machine to other players, who then essentially play along to the stream. In a statement introducing the feature to developers, Valve recommends a 10Mbps connection for streaming video at up to 1080p and 60FPS to other players with acceptable latency.

Surely, Remote Play Together will be better suited to some games than others depending on how much latency factors into play. Still, it's a different streaming beast than Stadia's bandwidth-hungry architecture. On Valve's support forums, a representative confirms that Remote Play Together always needs a connection to Steam's servers for streaming, so it's also not a magic solution for letting local multiplayer-only games work over an offline LAN set-up.

What's most intriguing about Remote Play Together is that it works across PC, Mac, and Linux while also allowing players to share control of a single keyboard and mouse input. Since only the host needs to own the game in question, that means Remote Play Together enables multiplayer for games are aren't available on Mac or Linux. Also, though the shared keyboard and mouse function seems intended for games that use a single keyboard for multiple players, it potentially opens the door to pass-the-controller play over the internet.

TowerFall Ascension makes a cameo in Valve's announcement, but there are over 4,000 games ranging from Overcooked 2 to Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 listed as compatible with the feature on Steam. Hopefully, as more folks take the feature for a spin, the community can start whittling that list down to the games that work particularly well over Valve's not-Local multiplayer.

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Mathew Olson


Mathew Olson is a writer formerly of Digg, where he blogged and reported about all things under the umbrella of internet culture (including games, of course). He lives in New York, grew up under rain clouds and the influence of numerous games studios in the Pacific Northwest, and will talk your ear off about Half-Life mods, Talking Heads or Twin Peaks if you let him.

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