Steam (for Android) review

Valve's mobile Steam app puts the service's incredible game deals in the palm of your hand, but a few omissions keep it from snatching the high score.
Photo of Steam (for Android)

Valve Corporation’s Steam mobile app is simultaneously the best and most frustrating app I’ve downloaded in quite some time. Allow me to explain why.

I’m a recent PC gaming convert after 30+ years of console gaming. Steam played a significant role in my transformation by making it incredibly simple to purchase digital games (often for dirt-cheap during it’s very frequent sales), manage a game collection, and stay in touch with friends via chat and themed groups. It’s damn near flawless in terms of usability and execution.

Steam is now available as an attractive, intuitive Android app, and my wallet has suffered gloriously because of it. I can make (for better or for worse) game purchases from my Samsung Galaxy Note II, but the app lacks certain features that would complete the overall Steam experience.

Like the Desktop Version (Mostly)
Steam for Android doesn’t allow you to play games on the go, but it lets you partake in the many other features associated with the desktop application. For example, you can mix it up with the Steam community by chatting with friends and joining themed groups of other likeminded gamers. You can’t, unfortunately, participate in group chats, which is a feature found in Steam’s desktop software. Oddly, your friends’ in-game achievements are M.I.A, but you can see your own. I’m hoping to see these niggles addressed in a future update.

On the upside, “Steam News” is where you can read Valve press releases, the Steam Blog, software update information, Steam client update information, and syndicated news from the likes of Eurogamer, Kotaku, PC Gamer, and other powerhouse gaming outlets. Unfortunately, some of the stories on the homepage were weeks old, so don’t delete those browser bookmarks just yet if you want to stay on top of the latest video game industry happenings.

Shut Up and Take My Money
Purchasing games from “Catalog,” however, is what makes Steam for Android shine. The digital market is divided into four sections: “Featured,” “New,” “Popular,” and “Specials.” The first three sections are self-explanatory, but “Specials” is where Steam’s famous discounted games reside. Fireburst, an arcade-style combat racer, saw a 75-percent discount during the time I put the Steam for Android app through its paces. With deals like that, it’s understandable why the there was a strong urge to make impulse purchases.

You can even pre-purchase games and add titles to your wishlist. Steam for Android charges the card number associated with your Steam account. You can delete that card from the mobile app, but you cannot add another. You also can’t redeem Steam codes.

Games bought via Steam for Android require you to return to your desktop so that you can download them to your computer. It would be grand if you could remotely download games to an active computer, but that’s just a fantasy at the moment.

Getting Steamy
If you dabble in Steam even a little bit, Steam for Android is an app worth downloading. It may not display friends’ achievements or let you participate in group chats, but it gives you the power to chat with individual friends and make game purchases from anywhere your smartphone or tablet can connect to a cellular or Wi-Fi signal. If you don’t ever want to miss another Steam sale, download this app.

Specifications
Genre Online
Platform PC

Verdict
Valve's mobile Steam app puts the service's incredible game deals in the palm of your hand, but a few omissions keep it from snatching the high score.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc