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When I first briefly dipped my toes into Linux desktop waters, Steam didn't even exist. Not on Windows, not on Mac and not on Linux. Steam only launched for Linux in alongside Valve's SteamOS operating system, although it's available for every Linux distribution. I remember using Red Hat and SUSE, and only being exposed to a rash of decidedly Penguin-flavoured freeware games like Tux Racer, a bunch of Nethack clones and hundreds of other games with, well, considerably less staying power and quality.
Developers like Loki and RuneSoft were creating and porting a handful of games to "alternative" operating systems, but beyond that, the gaming landscape was pretty barren. If you haven't had Linux on your radar in the past several years, the above may be the impression you carry today. But that landscape has changed dramatically. Liam Dawe believes this is one the biggest myths that needs to be shattered. So how many games are actually available to play on Linux today? And don't worry, Steam isn't some foreign or watered-down experience on Linux.
Of course, I interviewed Dawe before Valve launched its g roundbreaking update to Steam Play , which allows users to play games on Steam for Linux that were previously only released on Windows.
Gaming on Steam for Linux is more secure than on macOS and Win32
The unofficial Steam Play Compatibility website has been tracking the testing of every Windows game now playable on Steam for Linux. To date, more than titles have been tested. Of those, nearly have received "Platinum" status, meaning they not only launch with the simple click of the "Install" button on Steam, but they also have Windows-level performance and framerates. And the Humble store doubles that to listings. For more adventurous gamers with a moderate level of patience who aren't afraid to open a Terminal window, there are third party solutions like Lutris.
Want to install the Blizzard launcher and play Overwatch? Lutris has you covered. But these come with some notes of caution, which we'll get into below. Before that, how about that second myth?
Valve Changes Everything: Windows-Exclusive Games Now Run On Steam For Linux
I suppose the mentality here is "Linux is free, so Linux users must be penny-pinching, budget-conscious, open source-loving people who expect everything for free, right? Though it's no longer updated, the Humble Visualizations project gathered research that illustrated how Linux gamers actually spend more money on their games compared to Windows and macOS users.
While this is only an isolated stat, it does take 5 years worth of purchases into consideration and these Humble Bundles were predominantly from larger publishers. My impression thus far is that Linux users are passionate about their platform and about the software which is available for their platform. They're perfectly happy and willing to reach into their pockets to get what they want. As Dawe mentioned above and I can confirm, playing games native to Linux is effortless.
What's wonderful about Linux is the possibility of playing literally anything that was not developed for the platform. But now it's time for a dose of reality.
Gaming On Linux: All You Need To Know
Don't go into it expecting something to work," Dawe explains. PlayOnLinux and Lutris are essentially user interfaces to work with Wine to manage multiple titles with it, each with their own special script to set it all up for you. Dawe stresses that native gaming is generally a better choice than Wine, which is leveraged through tools like Lutris or PlayOnLinux, or whether it's using Valve's Proton compatibility solution on Steam. Wine can be great for old releases that are no longer supported though and there are plenty of Windows-only games that do work fine with it.
Some developers have even packaged their older games with Wine for Linux users and put them on Steam. If you've heard about Linux recently in larger outlets like this one, it's probably because of Steam Play. It's why I see an endless deluge of posts on Reddit and Twitter from people ready to make the switch from Windows to Linux.