Will Steam Revolutionize Gaming On Linux?

“It doesn’t have the programs I like to run.” This is one of the most commonly-uttered phrases when asking someone why they don’t use Linux. In some ways, I’m in the same boat. I need to be able to use Photoshop, Lightroom and Premiere on my primary desktop. However, those are the only three pieces of software I need for everyday work and internet browsing. So why do I still use Windows? Well if you couldn’t tell, I’m a bit of a gamer. And until I can play the majority of my games on it, I’ll be staying away from Linux.

The winds of change are in the air, and playing games on a Linux machine might not be so crazy of a thought. Yes, I’m aware that you can use emulation to run Windows games, but that’s not nearly the same as having a native solution. Valve has confirmed that they are indeed working on a Linux port of the Source engine, and a compatible version of Steam. Both should be available sometime later this year.

The first game to be made available to Linux users will be Left 4 Dead 2. However, it sounds as though they are planning to port the rest of the Source-based games to the open source OS. While this is great, one still has to wonder how many non-Valve titles will be ported. One company is not enough to turn Linux into a viable solution for PC gamers. To get a better idea of what we can expect, we can look to the other platform that Valve has tackled.

It was just over two years ago that Valve announced that they would be bringing Steam and the Source engine to Mac systems. Looking at the store, we can see 245 titles that are playable on OSX. Granted, that pales in comparison to the nearly 1,600 Windows games. However, it shows that Valve has the ability to light a fire under some developers to open their games up to new platforms. Sure, some of these games already had Mac versions, but I think having a platform like Steam really helped push the idea of gaming on a Mac.

Will Steam revolutionize Linux gaming? It’s really hard to say. I think it will be a slow process, with many developers shying away from the platform for years to come. However, I think that simply providing a place to sell Linux games will be enough. Once Valve can show that there is money to be made in the Linux market, the games will come.

by Chris Scott Bar

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