Steam Play -or- How Linux got its game on

in blog •  2 months ago

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Like many Linux users I had mixed feelings about Valve's new Steam Play initiative. It wasn't a new concept, take a game made for Windows and interpret the requests the game made for things like Video, Sound, Input and convert them to the Linux equivalent and we've had this tool in our tool box for years. What we didn't have, however, was the backing, and reach that a company like Valve has. Where WINE (The Windows interpreter for Linux and Mac OS) does an amazing job it was hard to wrap your head around all the options, how they worked together, and how things would interact with your system. Try as they might the WINE developers were seen as a necessary evil, something to install because the software that you wanted to use wasn't available on Linux, and you couldn't find a suitable replacement for the software you used.

However, this isn't actually about the heated debate between those that subscribe to the "Native or Nothing" mindset, or to those that don't care as long as it works. This is actually about how amazing it is to see community work the way its supposed to. See, the main reason I switched to Linux (19 years ago) was that it instilled a sense of community into the process. They knew that it was the community and the community alone that would make Linux a success. This community spawned so much more than the most disruptive software movements it changed the way we develop, distribute, and even monetize software. This community, even as Linux has become the OS that powers most of modern life, is alive and flourishing. Even though there are countless examples the best of them in showing how quickly the "troops" mobilize is to look at SPCR.

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Started only a day after Steam Play was made public in the Steam betas a man going by the handle "buck" began building a compatibility list for all Windows only games. What started as a google sheet with a small front end form, to make adding games easier, is now becoming a whole service wrapped around Proton (the open source software Valve uses to play Windows games on Linux).

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Valve has officially added 27 games to the Steam Play database. These games are now considered Steam OS / Linux games, but that is only a small sample of what Proton can do. I hope that Valve is watching this movement, and begins adding those deemed "Completely Stable" to the list of official games.

Linux has always been an amazing OS for gaming. Having been a user for nearly 20 years I have been an advocate for Linux for everyone since before anyone coined "The Year of the Linux Desktop." This was truly the last hurdle that the numerous distributions faced, and I can only hope that Valves move continues to push the bar forward for Linux as a whole, and who knows, with Microsoft beginning its swan song, and Apple being...well Apple, maybe this truly is the year of the penguin.

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