Fans of retro (and not so retro) gaming will be pleased to hear that RetroArch is coming to Steam.
Not familiar with RetroArch? It’s a user-friendly GUI that makes use of the libretro API. That API allows developers to create, among other things, modular ‘libretro’ cores that act as game emulators for systems like the SNES, Mega Drive and Game Boy.
The famed front-end for the popular Libretro API will be available to install on Steam for Windows from July 30. Linux and macOS versions will follow.
libretro cores that power RetroArch can be used with other compatible frontends (like GNOME Games app) but RetroArch is arguably the best one.
RetroArch on Steam
“We feel now is the time to finally bring the official Libretro frontend to Steam,” they write in their announcement.
“RetroArch is truly in a class of its own on a technical level when it comes to latency, shader features, and now soon-to-be disc loading and disc dumping. We can’t wait to bring you complete control over your retro gaming library coming this summer on Steam!”
The leap to Steam should help make the client more accessible and more visible to gamers.
The timing is also important, with the team putting “…heavy focus into making sure that RetroArch can run originally bought content on game discs.”
“Preservation and emulation should go hand in hand, and that means being able to run the original discs on open source emulators, on ANY device!”
While it’s already possible to play original game cartridges through
libretro cores using tools like Retrode, extending support to the playback of original game discs is another logical progression — most of us have a disc drive!
Continuing, they that they are also “…open to dialogue with game developers/publishers that have the rights to original IP who want to bring their games over to Steam through the use of RetroArch.”
The ‘dialogue’ they reference is possible as a crop of classic games sold on Steam currently make use of libretro cores in their emulation. It’s a logical progression for RetroArch to make the leap to the platform itself.
Making RetroArch available on Steam could make it more prominent, more accessible, and more popular.
Plus, as this is open-source project there’s always the hope that an increase in profile may lead to an increase in contributions (for various kinds).
You Can Install RetroArch Without Steam
You don’t need to wait for RetroArch to hit Steam to use it. Just follow the relevant install instructions on the project website to get it up and running on your system.
Remember: RetroArch is a front-end to libretro cores, and these cores are console emulators. No games or ROMs are bundled in.