Valve has rolled out a new feature for Steam that enables users on remote PCs to play local multiplayer games together. In fact, that's what it's called—Remote Play Together—and it's available now to Steam beta participants.
Remote Play Together, which was revealed to developers (opens in new tab) a couple of weeks ago through the Steamworks website, enables Steam friends to play together in games that are normally limited to local or splitscreen multiplayer. Valve said the system supports up to four players, "or even more in ideal conditions," and only the host needs to actually own the game and have it installed—everyone else will stream the game through Steam Remote Play, formerly known as In-Home Streaming (opens in new tab).
After launching the game, the host can extend invites via the "Remote Play Together" option from the friends list in the Steam Overlay; when they accept, their controllers will behave as though they're plugged into the host's PC, and everyone will be connected through voice chat. To ensure there are no shenanigans or unexpected surprises, only the game is shared with other players, not desktops "or other Top Secret stuff," Valve said. "You can share—or limit access to—the keyboard and mouse. It's your choice."
Remote Play Together isn't the smoothest-flowing name of all time, but this is the sort of feature that puts Steam head and shoulders above other storefronts. How well it works is yet to be seen (the host would seemingly have a big latency advantage), but there's a lot of potential in the idea of opening up Steam's local multiplayer games to people who aren't in the same room, which is most of us. Other services, such as Parsec (opens in new tab), don't have the advantage of being built into the platform we already use.
To access Remote Play Together, you'll need to be signed up for the Steam client beta (opens in new tab). To do that, go to your Steam settings and look for the "Beta participation" option under the Account menu. Hit the "Change" button and select Steam Beta Update, press OK, then exit the menu. When that's completed, Steam will download an update and restart, at which point you're in the club. Be aware that, as an ongoing beta, there is the potential for problems, but for what it's worth I've been in the Steam beta for ages and it's never been an issue.
Valve said that it will improve "network stability and compatibility across a variety of hardware" over the course of the Remote Play Together beta. Comments and conversation can be found in the Steam Remote Play forum (opens in new tab).