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A new ChromeOS gaming overlay puts touch-based Android games on your PC

A new ChromeOS gaming overlay puts touch-based Android games on your PC


Use a keyboard to simulate touches, taps, and swipes.

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Stock imagery of the Chrome logo.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

In a move that feels a little late, coming years after Chromebooks got access to Android apps and games, Google says that ChromeOS users will get access to an “early Alpha” of game controls optimized for certain touchscreen-only games. Mobile games are obviously made for use on phones with touchscreens, which many computers don’t have. To bridge the gap, starting with ChromeOS 105, Google’s operating system can turn key presses into simulated touches.

According to Google, “We see game controls as a way to overcome initial challenges with the ChromeOS gaming experience while users wait for developers to fully optimize their apps for ChromeOS,” even as it pushes for game developers to include input support that works across phones, tablets, and computers.

Image: Google

Android Police spotted the first signs of the feature over a year ago, which Google also referenced by mentioning the public beta of a “gaming overlay” while announcing plans for a Steam Alpha earlier this year. In the future, Google says gamers will have access to an editor that should enable this same control mapping for any games in Google Play that will work on a Chromebook, as well as extended support for mouse, gamepad, and other kinds of touch controls.

Image: Google

Google’s announcement included a list of all the supported games so far (which you can read below), with joystick action games like Pixel Blade R - Revolution, a series of 2048 variants to try out swipe controls, plus a few single- and multi-button control games like Hill Climb Racing and Tap Titans 2.

If you have a gaming PC, game console, or even your own phone to play on, then you might not be looking for a way to play more mobile games from the keyboard. But for kids who have a Chromebook as their primary device, or anyone else who prefers this style of games, it might open up easier access to play, especially while we wait for Steam to become available on more ChromeOS devices, and Google makes its games store available on Windows PCs.

To try it out, users don’t need to do anything special, as long as they’re running version 105 or higher, which was scheduled to arrive on the stable release channel yesterday and should be rolling out there shortly. When you open one of the games with game controls support, Google explains it will pop up an overlay listing the keys that translate to the various touch controls. If you need to customize the control settings, just click the white square in the right center of the game’s window.

Joystick Games

  • Archero
  • Heroics Epic Legend of Archero
  • Wizard Legend: Fighting Master
  • Pixel Blade R - Revolution
  • Zombero: Archero Hero Shooter
  • Archer Hunter - Offline Action Adventure Game
  • Mr. Autofire

Single Button Games

  • Geometry Dash Lite
  • Stack Ball - Crash Platforms
  • Fire Balls 3D
  • Stack Smash
  • Drop Stack Ball - Fall Helix Blast Crash 3D
  • Helix Smash
  • Stack Crush Ball
  • Crush Stack Ball Blast
  • Stack Fall
  • Helix Stack Jump: Smash Ball
  • Tap Titans 2

Multi-button Games

  • Hill Climb Racing
  • Ninja Arashi 2
  • Ninja Arashi
  • Ninja warrior: legend of adventure games
  • Power Hover
  • Grimvalor

Swipe Games

  • 2048 (Androbaby)
  • 2048 Original
  • 2048 (Solebon LLC)
  • 2048 Number puzzle game
  • 2048 (S2Apps)