Steam Brings Local Co-op Online With Remote Play Together Feature (Update)

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Update 10/31/2019: On Wednesday, Valve made the Remote Play Together beta available to all Steam users. It said it'll work with any local multiplayer games and noted that only one player needs to own the game in order to play it with a friend over the Internet. You can learn more here

Update 10/21/2019: Valve today released the the Remote Play Together beta. You can learn more here.

Original article 10/10/2019: 

Valve announced this week that it’s going to let PC gamers have their cake and eat it too. On its Steamworks developer site, the company said it will beta test a new feature that allows “two or more players to enjoy local multiplayer games over the Internet, together.” The feature is called Remote Play Together.

As reported by PCGamer (news announced via the Steamworks website is only available to game developers), Valve said that “all local multiplayer, local co-op and split-screen games will be automatically included in the Remote Play Together beta.” Devs shouldn’t have to do anything.

This might seem like a strange feature. There are plenty of games that people can play online; why allow people to remotely play games that are supposed to be enjoyed among people in the same room? Well, like we said at the start, Valve is basically making it so people who can’t physically get together with pals to play a game can at least enjoy each other’s company online.

We see the appeal. Many online games are competitive, require a lot of time to master or both. Those games can be fun -- there’s a reason why even Call of Duty has ditched single-player campaigns in favor of online multiplayer -- but they can also be exhausting. Games made to be played locally are often more casual, which can be a nice change of pace. And being able to play them online makes them even more accessible. 

Remote Play Together will likely have its problems at first. Games will have to figure out how to handle input lag, disparities between players’ Internet connections and other potential problems in order to deliver an experience comparable to playing on the same device. Hopefully, the beta testing starting later this month will be enough for Valve to solve (or at least mitigate) any potential issues.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.