After a few weeks of testing streaming, I’m skeptical that it can ever offer the simplicity of using a Roku or Apple TV or PS4 in the living room. But if I’m going to troubleshoot, I’d rather not leave my desk in the first place.
There are simply too many things that can go wrong, pulling you out of your blissful big screen experience to walk over to your PC to fix the problem. Another problem is that many PC games are missing easy ways to scale up the UI for a TV, even if they work decently with the Steam controller.
The other problem is one I’m worried that Valve won’t be able to solve, no matter how much they refine Big Picture Mode and the code that makes streaming function: Windows.
Windows is the root cause of most of those bad PC gaming days I mentioned earlier: it's a big, vastly complex OS with drivers and pop-up windows that plays host to all sorts of different game engines.
Steam warns that this setting increases latency, but I didn’t feel any more latency while playing, nor did I notice a significant increase in the real-time monitoring tool built into In-Home Streaming.
During my testing of other games (including Killing Floor 2, Nuclear Throne, Armello, Warhammer: The End Times - Vermintide, Fez, FTL, and more) I experienced multiple crashes and situations where a game didn’t seem to properly launch for streaming, either giving me a black screen or returning to Big Picture Mode.
Other times, I’d get into a game, and trying to pull up the Big Picture mode overlay to quit would be sluggish or unresponsive.
Perhaps Steam OS is the answer to all of these problems—in its custom version of Linux, Valve control the whole ecosystem—but I don't see that as a solution for more than a few diehard Linux gamers.
Most of the Steam OS rigs are aimed at the living room anyway, making streaming to the Link redundant.