As some of you may know, Valve released their first attempt at a mobile version of their online storefront, Steam. Potential users are able to download the app for either Android or iOS from their respective marketplace but be forewarned, this is only a beta. Users are able to enter their names in the beta pool by simply attempting to log in with their steam account but fear not, I’ve been lucky enough to get into the beta and it is good.
I downloaded the iOS version of the app a few days ago and my initial impressions are very positive. Finally, Valve delivered the app that I’ve been waiting almost two years for. Let’s be honest here, we’ve all been waiting for this app in some form or another. What Steam user hasn’t wanted to check on the holiday deals from their phone or mobile device? That aside, this app isn’t quite every Steam user’s dream, yet.
As of the writing of this article, the mobile version of Steam does lack a few features that I’ve come to expect from other apps and from the home version of Steam itself. Let’s not focus on those right now. Instead let’s look at what the app does right…which is pretty much everything. Once logged in, you have access to your friend list, your profile, and the storefront. It’s all very similar to the home version just a little bit smaller and optimized for a touch screen, which is to say that it’s pretty damn awesome.
The store was the big ticket item for me. I can’t tell you how many days of the last couple big sales I missed due to travel but this solves that problem by allowing me access to the store and all of the associated deals anywhere I have Internet or network access. You can select a game and get all the information that is available on the home client, including screenshots. I even bought a game from it just to make sure that everything worked, and sure enough it was listed in my library when I booted up my computer the next morning.
Your friend list makes the transition to mobile very well. The app breaks your friends down by who is online or offline as well as if you have any active chat windows. You can see what games your friends are currently playing, what they have played recently, and the groups they’re in but there is one thing that’s missing. You can’t look at their game library, or your own for that matter. That is likely just an omission that will be fixed before the app is open to the public.
There are a couple other nice additions like the inclusion of a news section but that doesn’t feel fully implemented at the moment and will hopefully get a once over in the near future. Users can even select which screen the app opens to at start which is another nice little touch. All of these screens can be accessed by a side menu similar to the one found in the Facebook app for iOS.
For a first attempt, Steam Mobile is great but it’s just missing a couple things that I take for granted on the home client and from other iOS apps. First, trailers and gameplay videos are unavailable from the store pages for any of the games sampled. I’m a sucker for trailers and I was very sad that I couldn’t watch any of them on my phone. Second, there is no multi-touch support so you can’t zoom in on screenshots to look at the fine details. Finally, even though the app prompts you at the first startup to allow push notifications it will not alert you to new chat messages if you are not actively in the app. To be fair, these aren’t deal breakers, at all. I love this app and I am very happy with it. These three things are features that I really want in the app because, to me at least, they will really make it feel like Steam and also like something that’s at home on my iPhone.