Steam compatibility tools is the discussion this week, so this is my point of view for Linux gaming. Since anyone who knows, our beloved OS not an entirely ideal experience yet.
So a lot of people would comment that there is still a lack of triple-A games on Linux. Then there are those that should be compatible with the OS.
But now it seems Valve is working behind the scene to finally address the issue. Which could also be outlined due to the failure of Steam Machines. Even though the Debian-based SteamOS is still in active development.
Now we have the introduction of “compatibility tools” called Steam Play. Which should allow gamers to run at least some of the Windows-based games on Linux systems.
Steam Compatibility Tools:
This all came to light due to Reddit users pointing out Steam’s GUI files. A hidden section with text relating to the unannounced Steam Play software. Reading, “Steam Play will automatically install compatibility tools that allow you to play games from your library that were built for other operating systems.”
Which suggests that Valve might also let developers test games which are not compatible with Steam Play. This way ensuring a faster addition of new releases coming via Steam Play.
So it seems we have Valve putting their weight behind a WINE compatibility. Also adding their own enhancements in the background and to make the install process as easy as a Windows games. No endless tweaking or having to configure games on your own. Having to work with different version of WINE, DXVK and installer scripts. Mind you, Lutris DOES cover much of this for you.
While this is a breath of fresh air for Linux gamers. The game developers have a lot to gain from this too. Saving them having to port their game to the platform. Which of course requires times and money. Also resources for the developers to commit to a smaller audience.
Something else I see quite often with Unreal Engine 4 titles. Roughly 60 – 70% out of all of the new UE4 game developers I reach out to say no to Linux. Usually due to time and costs, with diminishing returns. So the compatibility tools could have a viable solution for some of these developers.
While Steam for Linux does have roughly 5000 native games. We have a lot of AAA titles. But we are still nowhere near the Windows library. Therefore if Valve is doing what it seems to be doing. This will be a huge step forward for developers.
A Linux Point of View:
The downside to this, and yes there is one. We have more and more game engines that come with native support. So now instead of creating a full port for Steam. Developers could just adapt their Windows versions to the “compatibility layer”. Which could be almost comical for future Unity 3D titles. Since the engine makes up roughly 90% of Steam for Linux games in the library.
Also, the information outlined above does not explicitly name Linux anywhere. But it seems quite evident, since Mac OS has never been a gamer-oriented operating system either.
A major question still stands, will all Linux users receive Steam Play? Or will the compatible tools only work on the Debian-based SteamOS?