Blog Post

Video look: Gaming on a Chromebook Pixel: Linux and Steam make it easy

I recently purchased a Chromebook Pixel with LTE, but it hasn’t yet arrived. When it does, I plan to do some casual video gaming on the new hardware. No, I’m not talking about web apps; I mean native, third party video games. How’s that? I’ve shared part of the secret before: Simply run a script to install Linux so it runs side-by-side with Chrome OS. I can instantly jump over to it as needed. The rest of the solution is Steam, the video game distribution service that now supports Linux.

So far, I’ve found two minor issues with this set up. One: I can’t yet get a game controller working with the Linux on the Pixel. Second, games running at full screen get a little choppy. I don’t think that’s completely related to the hardware; instead, I suspect that the video drivers being used aren’t optimized for the Pixel’s 2560 x 1700 display.

Other than that, the only limit is the number of Linux games you can find on Steam. There are certainly fewer for Linux than for the Windows(s msft) or Mac(s msft) platforms, but there are enough titles for occasional gaming on the Pixel. I’m not suggesting that the Pixel with Linux will provide a vast, rich gaming experience, of course. However, this does add a little more value to the $1,449 I spent on “just a browser.”

12 Responses to “Video look: Gaming on a Chromebook Pixel: Linux and Steam make it easy”

    • So, Michael, your question is:
      “It can run linux, but can it run LoL? You can run LoL on linux.”

      I’m gonna let you think about that one yourself for a second.

  1. Miquel Mayol

    With wine perhaps you can try also QEMU and Virtual box to emulate MS WOS, OSX and even Android with the SDK emulator and the Android-x86 emulated.

    This is the first review i do read about CROUTON with Pixel and of course about Steam at pixel – with crouton –

    As there are no t a lot, please make a step by step guide to install crouton for no techies perhaps a video.

  2. Kevin I’m looking at getting the Pixel but just wanted to know if my current gaming addition “Don’t Starve” works on it? It’s available in the Chrome Store.

    • If it’s in the Chrome Store it absolutely should work on the Pixel; that’s the place for all Chrome OS / Chrome browser apps. The only Chromebooks that may experience an issue with something from the Chrome Store could be apps on the ARM Chromebooks.

    • It’s not currently supported. My fiancee has the Samsung Chromebook, which won’t run. Now, if it is because of the hardware, or simply because the developer won’t support Chrome OS, idk. Perhaps you should visit a store and test it out.

  3. Shane O'Donnell

    I would have thought that the integrated graphics card might be a more limiting factor than the linux OS.

    When you say it gets “A little choppy”, is it still playable? Have you tried any source-engine games like Team Fortress 2 or Left 4 Dead?

      • Shane O'Donnell

        Just a follow-up. I’ve since tried this myself on my own pixel. TF2 runs at about 10-25 FPS on lowest possible settings on a 16 person server, so it’s not really playable in my opinion!

        Surgeon simulator and Minecraft work great though, so not all hope is lost!

        • David Sanders

          Have you tried boosting with OOM Killer? I use Gamebooster wich is a similar program but for windows and my laptop and got batman arkham city and Skyrim to play on lo to mid settings respectively. Neither were even playable before.

  4. Aaron Berlin

    Kevin, have you tried installing WINE And running any Windows games? I’ve never tried that before, so I have no idea what kind of performance hit you take by doing that, but I understand that it can be done, and would greatly expand the number of games available to test.