Skip to main content

Steam for iPhone and iPad: Everything you need to know!

May 28, 2018: Apple SVP Phil Schiller replies to concerned customers

In the wake of Apple rejecting Steam Link, a number of angry customers emailed Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, who also oversees the App Store teams. He replied en masse to these messages, and his email was shared via Reddit:

Thank you for your email and being a customer of Apple products and the App Store. We care deeply about bringing great games to all of our users on the App Store. We would love for Valve's games and services to be on iOS and AppleTV.Unfortunately, the review team found that Valve's Steam iOS app, as currently submitted, violates a number of guidelines around user-generated content, in-app purchases, content codes, etc. We've discussed these issues with Valve and will continue to work with them to help bring the Steam experience to iOS and AppleTV in a way that complies with the store's guidelines.We put great effort into creating an App Store that provides the very best experience for everyone. We have clear guidelines that all developers must follow in order to ensure the App Store is a safe place for all users and a fair opportunity for all developers.Sincerely, Phil

Could this mean that Steam Link might still come to the Apple TV in the future? It's possible, though Valve would need to reengineer some of its in-app purchase features and user-generated content features.

May 24, 2018: Valve issues statement

It looks like Steam Link won't be coming to iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV anytime soon. According to a press statement released today by Valve, Apple has rejected the remote gaming app due to "business conflicts." It's not unusual for Apple to reject apps that too closely align with its own apps, but at this time, Apple doesn't have anything like Steam Link available, especially specifically for playing games on Steam.

It's possible Apple considers the Steam Link app to be too similar to its own mirroring feature, which allows you to cast content from your iPhone or iPad to Apple TV. However, Steam Link is not entirely unlike any standard remote app like Duet Display, which allows you to create a second screen to display content from your Mac to your iPhone or iPad.

Whatever the details of the business conflict, Apple appears to be taking a hard stance on this. Valve has already appealed the initial revocation, which happened after the app was approved, and the appeal was also rejected.

Below is Valve's original statement (via: MacRumors):

On Monday, May 7th, Apple approved the Steam Link app for release. On Weds, May 9th, Valve released news of the app. The following morning, Apple revoked its approval citing business conflicts with app guidelines that had allegedly not been realized by the original review team.Valve appealed, explaining the Steam Link app simply functions as a LAN-based remote desktop similar to numerous remote desktop applications already available on the App Store. Ultimately, that appeal was denied leaving the Steam Link app for iOS blocked from release. The team here spent many hours on this project and the approval process, so we're clearly disappointed. But we hope Apple will reconsider in the future.

If you're a gamer, chances are you have a Steam account. Steam is not only an amazing source for PC and Mac games, but they also offer movies and other digital products to millions and millions of users.

Valve (the company that owns Steam) is currently trying to bring two new apps to the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV to help extend the reach and accessibility of their services. The Steam Link app and the Steam Video app are set to launch later this year if details can be worked out with Apple.

In short, it's an app that will allow you to play your Steam games on your mobile devices; however, it's not quite as simple as it sounds.

"The Steam Link app allows gamers to experience their Steam library of games on their Android (phone, tablet, TV) and iOS-based (iPhone, iPad, Apple TV) devices while connected via 5Ghz network or wired Ethernet to a host system (Mac or PC), with Android access initially offered in beta."

It's important to remember this isn't really mobile gaming, as you'll need a super strong internet connection on the same network as your host device (PC or Mac) or an Ethernet connection. Of course, this does give you the ability to play your entire Steam library as long as you have the necessary connection.

Valve also went on to say that both the Steam controller and MFi controllers would be supported by the Steam Link app.

What is Steam Video?

The Steam Video app is a much simpler service.

"Later this summer, the Steam Video app is targeted for release, allowing users to enjoy the thousands of movies and shows available on Steam directly via their Android and iOS devices over Wi-Fi or LTE. In direct response to customer feedback, it will offer the ability to enjoy content in offline and streaming modes."

In short, you'll be able to watch your content on your iPhone or iPad whenever you want as long as you have an internet connection. Plus, it appears you'll be able to download content onto your device for viewing offline, which is definitely a welcome addition.

What do you think?

Let us know in the comments below!

Luke Filipowicz
Luke Filipowicz

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 


Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.

17 Comments
  • That is *really* interesting, it's potentially a huge boost to the Apple TV for gaming, right?
  • It's a big boost for all iOS devices for gaming. This is a real shame, I really hope Apple reconsider
  • I'm not really into the idea of it but stuff like this makes me wish my Safari trip to Android last summer we're better. Can't escape the solid experience in the walled garden.
  • More anti-competitive behaviour from Apple.
  • No! They just want their 30% of something they have no stake in selling!
  • That's not how Steam Link works, there are no in app purchases.
  • Whilst I don't agree with any anti-competitve behaviour from Apple, I reluctantly let some things slide. This however, I don't. I was really looking forward to trying Steam Link, I can't see it having a negative effect on Apple, so hopefully they will reconsider
  • I sometimes wonder if they want gaming to fail on MacOS.
  • Apple has never given two s*** cents about gaming
  • Really? What about Metal for iOS and macOS? What about VR on macOS? Apple definitely care about gaming, but yes they should bring the Steam Link app back
  • I'm happy enough to live in Apple's walled garden if the point is to make my life easier and shield me from malicious crap. But if they're using the wall to prevent me using useful products that might cut into Apple's own profits, I'm really unhappy. Was really looking forward to Steam Link...
  • Same. I'm hoping Apple realises their mistake, otherwise this will upset a lot of people
  • This wasn’t a “mistake”. Apple has terms and conditions that developerhave to long be up to in order to get an app approved. Valve didn’t adhere to these
  • To be fair, with the new details that have come out, I understand why Apple didn't approve it. I'm sure Valve will amend the app
  • Apple priority is to sell product. Consumer priority is to use product for (personally) positive result.
    Apple needs to remember that consumers won't buy what does not work for them.
  • All these comments prove no one read the dang article, otherwise they would have understood that somethings in the Steam Link app violated developer rules. It's not that darn hard to understand. Apple has created a service (App Store), invested its money in the infrastructure to support the App Store, and so therefore has rules regarding Apps provided via that service. Because at the end of the day they realize ultimately their name is attached to the whole thing and their reputation and bottom line is on the line. The fact that people don't understand such a basic principle and think it should be the Wild Wild West and/or Apple shouldn't make money for something it created, supports, and maintains (App Store) really makes me sad for the future.
  • As I understand it, it was *removed* from the App store after having been previously accepted. This obviously was bad for Valve and it doesn't look great for Apple either. The Steam Link *hardware* is basically like an Apple TV in AirPlay mode - it uses your TV as a display for your computer (and you can also connect controllers or keyboards to it.) Assuming the software Steam Link App works the same way, I suppose it might technically violate Apple's guidelines by not preventing you from buying Steam games and apps (and possibly video as well) on the Steam store while you are connected to your Mac or other PC; still it's puzzling if Apple initially approved it and didn't remove it until after Valve's press release had gone out, which is what seems to have occurred. I just wish I had downloaded it in time.