Remote Play Together is a new Steam feature that will let up to four players enjoy multiplayer games online. An email sent to developers from Steam outlines the plan, including that every game in the Steam library that has multiplayer, co-op, or split-screen capabilities are automatically included in Remote Play Together.
Some clarification is necessary, as it's a slightly confusing concept. The Valve email describes Remote Play Together as "handing a second controller to a friend" but in the virtual sense. A local split-screen game that allows four players will require the host to load up the title in split-screen mode and then stream to three other machines (yes, that means only one person needs to own the title).
The host machine will have to do some heavy lifting, as it will have to seamlessly stream the game while also processing other controllers' inputs. Remote Play Together will show all of the participating players the same screen - it's a virtual mimic of everyone sitting together and gaming in the living room in college, minus the pot smoke.
Hopefully Remote Play Together is designed to handle the large load its set up for itself, as other game-streaming services have demonstrated varying versions of streaming, game rendering, and input processing. Some are smooth as silk, others have obvious latency. Valve will need to offer up a great version of game-streaming in order for it to be a feasible competitor to Google Stadia and Microsoft Project xCloud. It's also an interesting addition to the ongoing debate regarding store exclusives - if a local multiplayer title is an Epic Games Store exclusive, this new feature will obviously not be available.
The beta for Remote Play Together will launch during the week of October 21 for anyone who's a member of Steam Client Beta (go into your settings menu on Steam and opt in if you'd like to get involved).
For more on the Epic Games Store controversy, see our piece on Epic CEO's belief that "gamers don't see" all the ways Epic Games Store is helping the industry.