Valve’s storefront Steam has launched the beta phase of its Remote Play Together feature, striking a further blow to the Epic Games Store’s ambitions of prying the top dog spot from the established digital retailer.
Remote Play Together allows friends to jump into local multiplayer sessions together over the internet. Up to four players – possibly more under what Steam calls ‘ideal conditions’ – can band together and join any game that features local co-op, local multiplayer, and shared/split-screen functionality. Valve says there’s an ever-expanding list of ‘thousands of supported titles.’
Only the host’s system needs the game installed for others to participate. The host then invites Steam friends to link up to the session through the Remote Play feature.
On the non-host end, controllers behave as if they were connected directly to the host’s computer. There’s even the possibility to share keyboard and mouse control. Additionally, operating systems won’t act as a barrier to play or voice chat functionality. Players can join Remote Play Together sessions regardless of whether they are running Windows, macOS, or Linux.
Steam says any open Remote Play games will only show up to your Steam friends. They will only have access to the game and no other part of the host’s machine to safeguard security.
Initial reactions to Remote Play Together are unanimously positive. It’s worth remembering it’s still in beta, so it is likely to improve before launching in earnest later on.
In comparison, the Epic Games Store struggles to implement essential features such as shopping basket and pre-loading functionality, leading to speculation that similar online local-multiplayer technology is a long way off for Epic’s platform.
Steam has a head start of well over a decade, and with these continuous innovations (notably, the latest library revamp), it feels like Epic Games is destined to a perpetual game of catch-up that it can never win. Exclusivity may lure users over, but consumer-friendly functionality in the ilk of Steam’s latest Remote Play Together is what keeps them there.