With gaming on the big screen becoming the preference for many computer gamers, it’s undeniable that convenient ways to establish a connection between a TV and a computer, without the hassle of having to run a cable between the two, is a technology that is incredibly in demand lately.
While there are a few options available to fulfill this task, Steam Link, an application developed by Valve to allow the casting of Steam games from a computer to the device that the Steam Link application is running on, is practically the first one that comes to mind, with Steam being the go-to marketplace for games.
That being said, as Steam Link is a software solution, which requires the device that will be receiving the data from the computer to be able to run this software, questions about compatibility often come to mind, with one of the most popular questions being whether it’s compatible with Roku, one of the most widely used streaming devices available.
Unfortunately, the Steam Link application is not compatible with Roku OS (Roku’s own operating system), making it impossible to use Steam Link on any Roku device, whether it’s a Roku TV or an external Roku streaming device, such as the Roku Streaming Stick or the Roku Express.
Moving forward, we will explain why it’s not possible to use Steam Link on Roku in a more technically detailed manner, discuss the workarounds you can apply to play Steam games on Roku, and finally, go through some Roku alternatives that will allow you to run Steam Link natively.
Can You Use Steam Link on Roku?
To better explain the compatibility status between Steam Link and Roku, let’s start with operating systems and how they play an essential role in deciding whether an application is compatible with a device.
When the words “operating system” are mentioned, the five names that immediately come to mind are Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, and iOS, with the first three being computer operating systems and the last two being mobile operating systems.
As these operating systems dominate the market, most developers ensure that their applications have support for them, which allows the applications to reach almost the entirety of the user base.
That being said, the operating systems we have mentioned above aren’t the only operating systems available, with plenty of different other operating systems, often created for specific purposes, and devices exist, with Roku devices also falling into this category.
As Roku devices utilize Roku’s proprietary operating system, known as Roku OS, which arguably takes up a tiny portion of the operating system market share despite the popularity of Roku devices, Valve has most likely not opted to make a version of Steam Link that is compatible with Roku OS.
Due to this, it’s impossible to run the Steam Link application on any Roku device that is running Roku OS, which in turn makes it impossible to use the Steam Link functionality on Roku since this would require the Steam Link application to be running on the target device.
How to Play Steam Games on Roku?
Even though Roku does not support Steam Link, all hope is not lost just yet, as there is a workaround that makes it possible to transfer what you’re seeing on the screen of your computer to the Roku.
Below, you can find a step-by-step guide that will allow you to mirror the screen of your computer to your Roku device through Roku’s screen mirroring feature:
- Connect both the Roku device and your computer to the same network.
- Press the Home button on the Roku remote.
- Navigate to the Settings section on the sidebar.
- Navigate to the System section on the left pane.
- Navigate to the Screen Mirroring section on the right pane.
- Navigate to “Screen mirroring mode” and choose the “Prompt” option.
- Use the casting feature of your operating system to mirror your screen to the Roku. For instance, you can find this section by searching for “Connect to a wireless display” in Windows 11.
- Accept the screen mirroring request using the Roku remote once it pops up.
Once you establish a connection between your computer and your Roku, you can launch the game of your choice, which you should also be able to see on the TV.
Please note that the screen mirroring feature is designed for watching videos and not for playing games, meaning that using it can cause you to have a laggy gaming experience due to the bandwidth required for transmitting a game in real time, without delay, being much higher than the bandwidth needed to transmit a video with a fixed frame rate.
Which Devices Can Run Steam Link Natively?
Even though Roku devices aren’t compatible with it, Steam Link is actually supported by many distinct devices that are widely available for usage, meaning that finding a Steam Link-compatible device isn’t a challenging task by any means.
Below, you can find a list of the devices that can run Steam Link natively, allowing you to cast Steam games from your computer to the device in a seamless way:
- iPhone (iOS 11+)
- iPad (iOS/iPadOS 11+)
- Apple TV (iOS/tvOS 11+)
- Android phones, tablets, TVs, and streaming devices (Android 5.0+)
- Raspberry Pi (Pi 3, 3+, and 4)
- Windows devices
- Linux devices
- MacOS devices
Of all the options, the most convenient and budget-friendly alternative to play Steam games on your TV would be picking up an Amazon Fire TV Stick, which is practically an Android device capable of running Steam Link without any issues.
On the other hand, if you have a spare laptop (or mini-computer, such as the Mac Mini) lying around, connecting it to your TV with the help of an HDMI cable and running Steam Link on it will be just as good of a solution, with no extra purchases required in this case.
There is no denying that Roku, whether it comes in the form of a smart TV or an external streaming device that interfaces with a regular TV, offers a fantastic viewing experience with the many channels and applications it provides.
On the other hand, when it comes to gaming, Roku definitely falls short due to it not having native support for the Steam Link application, which practically makes it incompatible with one of the most convenient and widely used ways of enjoying computer games on the TV in an optimized manner.
While the workaround of utilizing the screen mirroring feature of Roku to display your computer’s screen on the TV technically makes it possible to play Steam games on the big screen, our recommendation would be to opt for a device that can run Steam Link natively for a more satisfactory, lag-free gaming experience.
Mark’s first real encounter with tech was when he had to format his computer with Windows 98 around the age of 6 to quickly get back to playing Heroes of Might and Magic III without having to send the computer in for a repair, which he strangely found to be rather enjoyable since it was a new challenge for him at the time.
While he has always been particularly interested in the software side of things, which eventually led to him becoming a software developer, he enjoys keeping up with the advancements in consumer electronics and smart home technology when he’s not busy coding.