There’s nothing quite like the connections you make when you play video games on the couch next to your friends. However, Steam’s Remote Play Together feature allows you to play local multiplayer games online, even if the game doesn’t support multiplayer.
What Is Remote Play Together?
A tremendous number of games feature online multiplayer, but not all. Some games are built for two or more people sitting down in front of the same screen together.
For Steam games without online multiplayer, there’s Remote Play Together. Steam runs the game on your computer and streams it live to your friends. Everyone sees what you see on your screen, and the inputs they make on their computers are sent to yours. Think Google Stadia, but running entirely on your PC.
The only person who needs to own or install the game is the person running it. That makes this feature useful even if a game offers online multiplayer because, with Remote Play Together, only the host has to purchase the game. Any of your Steam friends can join, whether they own the game or not.
How to Use Remote Play Together
To get started, you just launch your game through Steam. Once it’s up and running, press Shift+Tab to open the Steam Overlay, and then click “View All Friends.”
If you’ve disabled the Steam Overlay, you’ll need to re-enable it. To do so, right-click the game in your library, select “Properties,” and then check the box next to the “Enable the Steam Overlay While In-Game” option.
In your friends list, right-click the name of a friend you want to invite. Under the game title, select “Remote Play Together” to invite that person to your session. On Windows and Linux PCs (but not Macs), sending this invite automatically starts a voice chat with that person. Any subsequent invites add additional members to a group voice chat.
You can invite as many players as your game has room for—the most we’ve ever managed was seven. According to Valve, though, you can invite, “up to four players—or even more with fast connections.”
The players you invite to your game won’t be able to invite anyone else to play. However, they can invite people to watch everyone play. If you pressing Shift+Tab, Alt+Tab, or Cmd+Tab to leave the game, everyone except the host will see the “Please Stand By” screen.
How to Manage Remote Play Together
Once you’re up and running, anyone who gets an invite to your session can input commands from his mouse, keyboard, or gamepad. You can restrict this access by player and device. To do so, press Shift+Tab to open the Steam Overlay and “Remote Play” menu.
In this window, the host can click the mouse, keyboard, or gamepad icon under any player to mute inputs from those devices. You can also use the volume slider next to each person to raise or lower his volume in the voice chat.
You can kick invited players out of the session with the “Kick Player” button.
Invitees can press Shift+Tab to bring up their own menus. Here, they can control the volume of the game and all other players in the voice chat, including the host.
They can press the “Leave Stream” button at any time to quit the session.
Keep in mind Remote Play Together will only work as well as your computers and internet connections. Even if those aren’t the best quality, though, you can still play most games with your friends with minimal lag.