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Steam's top releases of May show why Steam Play is needed for Linux

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Valve have put out a news post to highlight some of the top games put onto Steam in May and it's another reminder of why Steam Play is needed.

In this blog post they start by listing 20 games that had the top revenue earned in the first two weeks following their release. Without looking, take a guess at the number of games in that list that actually support Linux.

Did you take a guess? The answer is a rather sobering two: Rise of Industry and Total War: THREE KINGDOMS. What happens to that number if we include those that can be run with Steam Play, with a "Platinum" rating from user reports on ProtonDB? That brings it right up to nine, which is far more impressive. It would be even higher, if Easy Anti-Cheat and BattlEye worked with Steam Play and since both said they're working on it (Sources: EAC - BattlEye), things can only get better.

They also went over the top five free games, measured by peak player count within the first two weeks following release: Conqueror's Blade, Splitgate: Arena Warfare, Minion Masters, Eden Rising and Never Split the Party. Of those, only one supports Linux which is Never Split the Party. If we take "Platinum" Steam Play games again, that only rises to two.

Note: The top free games list has two entries that also appear in the top revenue list.

Without popular games, Linux gaming won't grow to a point where it will be noticeable. Once again, this is a big reason why Steam Play is going to help in the long run. First we get games, then we get players, then we hopefully get developers wanting control with their own supported Linux builds.

What's interesting though, is this only takes into account the first two weeks in both cases. Taking a look myself a bit closer, out of the top 20 games most played on Steam right now (players online) only one of those games Valve listed in the blog post actually make it at all, which is Total War: THREE KINGDOMS and that does support Linux. Going even further, out of the top 100 games on Steam for player count, from Valve's list, only currently Total War: THREE KINGDOMS shows up.

As a quick additional and interesting measure for June: Looking at the top 20 by player count right now, how many in total support Linux? A much healthier 10, so half which isn't so bad. Stretching it out even more, from the top 100 by player count, 43 of them support Linux.

So while we don't get the "latest and greatest" games, keep in mind that we do have a lot of games that stay popular supported on Linux, so there's at least a silver lining of sorts there.

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213 comments
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Linuxwarper 1 Jul, 2019
Quoting: BeamboomMac is at, what, 6-7 % now? And they are barely supported more than us. And they are SEVEN TIMES larger.
Apple's approach to gaming is quite hostile. Poor OpenGL support and have deprecated it in favor of Metal. Speaking of low level api, Vulkan isn't officially supported. Furthermore you can buy a IMac 27 inch with 5k Retina display, Radeon Pro 570x 4GB, 1TB Fusion drive and 8GB 2666 memory for $1800 or you can build a better gaming PC yourself for $945. Granted that build doesn't have a 5K display but for major games you can't expect such a Radeon Pro 570x to keep up with 5K.

I think if there were less of these issues for Mac devices, they would get more support. Also Valve is quite committed to Linux. So they will most likely capitalize on marketshare, unlike Apple who are neglecting gaming.


Last edited by Linuxwarper on 1 July 2019 at 11:44 am UTC
Beamboom 1 Jul, 2019
Quoting: LinuxwarperApple's approach to gaming is quite hostile. Poor OpenGL support and have deprecated it in favor of Metal. Speaking of low level api, Vulkan isn't officially supported.
[...]
I think if there were less of these issues for Mac devices, they would get more support. Also Valve is quite committed to Linux. So they will most likely capitalize on marketshare, unlike Apple who are neglecting gaming.

Absolutely, and I did consider this when writing my comment. But I came to the conclusion that my point still stands in regards to the market share perspective.

If we had the same market share as Apple, I am one hundred percent convinced that the support for Linux would be higher than Apple, for the exact reasons you mention.

But my main point is to try to establish an understanding on just how small we are in this pond. That perspective is fundamental when considering the pros and cons for Steam Play.
aldy 1 Jul, 2019
Quoting: EikeIf releasing for Windows only and losing 1% of customers, it won't hurt me and I wouldn't change anything.
If releasing for Windows only and not losing customers (because I see Linux users buying it nevertheless) - why the hell would I change anything?!?
They're already buying, why invest money?
Looks like your only problem is that companies don't invest money on the "official" Linux version of their games.

I love video games and I want to play the games that I really like. Thanks to proton I'm able to play these games on Linux just by pressing a button.

Why I have to buy games that I don't like just because they have native ports? Even if some native games are just wine wrappers and some ports run worse than the Windows version on Proton.


Last edited by aldy on 1 July 2019 at 3:05 pm UTC
Eike 1 Jul, 2019
Quoting: aldy
Quoting: EikeIf releasing for Windows only and losing 1% of customers, it won't hurt me and I wouldn't change anything.
If releasing for Windows only and not losing customers (because I see Linux users buying it nevertheless) - why the hell would I change anything?!?
They're already buying, why invest money?
Looks like your only problem is that companies don't invest money on the "official" Linux version of their games.

I love video games and I want to play the games that I really like. Thanks to proton I'm able to play these games on Linux just by pressing a button.

I understand that, and it's ok. It just shouldn't be presented as a means to advance native Linux gaming. If they don't care for 1% which won't buy their games if they don't port, why would they care for 0.5% which may or may nor be able to play their game under Proton?

Quoting: aldyWhy I have to buy games that I don't like just because they have native ports?

Nobody said so.
Have fun! (I mean it.)
Salvatos 1 Jul, 2019
Quoting: BeamboomI have to give it to you guys though: I kind of envy the confidence at display here. It takes SOME confidence to actually believe one has understood something that pretty much the entire multi-billion industry fails to see... ;)
Well, to be fair, the fact that the GNU/Linux desktop in general and Linux gaming in particular have gotten to where they are today is baffling under any kind of business-minded consideration. I think the ideology at our roots actually plays more of a role than we may sometimes admit. Just seeing Paradox recently saying that they will still consider porting future games to Linux on a case-by-case basis even though they have barely been turning a profit on them if at all, to me, is quite impressive. Many companies would (and have) just give up on us completely and choose easier ways to make more money (the DLC example being a very good one).

I'm not too much of an idealist, but in this case our track record shows that we can at least keep some hope alive despite slim odds :)


Last edited by Salvatos on 1 July 2019 at 3:44 pm UTC
Linuxwarper 1 Jul, 2019
Quoting: BeamboomBut my main point is to try to establish an understanding on just how small we are in this pond. That perspective is fundamental when considering the pros and cons for Steam Play.
Definitely we are small. Even if we do get 5% marketshare and the game in question will be supported on Stadia, companies like EA may take the lazy route and not release a native port and let Steam Play do the work for them. But even if they take that route, as long as Vulkan is available for SteamPlay for games it will still add tremendously to Linux. There is barely any difference between a native Vulkan game and one that runs through Steam Play. It's not even close to as pronounced as running game on Steam Play through DXVK.

I am optimistic about 2020. I just hope Valve can resolve anti cheat before end of year.


Last edited by Linuxwarper on 1 July 2019 at 6:06 pm UTC
mirv 1 Jul, 2019
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Quoting: Linuxwarper
Quoting: BeamboomBut my main point is to try to establish an understanding on just how small we are in this pond. That perspective is fundamental when considering the pros and cons for Steam Play.
Definitely we are small. Even if we do get 5% marketshare and the game in question will be supported on Stadia, companies like EA may take the lazy route and not release a native port and let Steam Play do the work for them. But even if they take that route, as long as Vulkan is available for SteamPlay for games it will still add tremendously to Linux. There is barely any difference between a native Vulkan game and one that runs through Steam Play. It's not even close to as pronounced as running game on Steam Play through DXVK.

I am optimistic about 2020. I just hope Valve can resolve anti cheat before end of year.

There are other reasons for not wanting to rely on Wine for gaming, even if Vulkan is used natively (by the way, a Stadia port does not mean a Windows version will also use Vulkan - in fact, there's very little chance of that if the Windows version is using DX11 or DX12).

Ancillary benefits from natively developed games include: better tooling, more stable drivers, investment in resolving certain compatibility problems, non-reliance on Microsoft, different compilers (often can spot problems, so I would imagine a Stadia port would help here as well as native for desktop GNU/Linux), possible peripheral devices being better supported (if more native games exist, and market share grows), etc.

But of course Wine (and anything based off it), eON, dosbox, etc, all help individuals play games they want without locking themselves into Windows. So it's very important to have that.

Basically there is _plenty_ of room for both native and wrapped games, and both are absolutely needed.
Eike 1 Jul, 2019
Quoting: BeamboomYou talk about decimals now, Eike. It's nothing. Nothing. You must focus on the broader picture and stop counting breadcrumbs. One percent market share is nothing, never was, never will be. Totally insignificant.

[...]

What we talk about here are the games that makes headlines and enter top seller lists. The big titles from the big developers.

We won't get anywhere when we cannot even agree on what we're talking about. When I talk about the absolute number of Linux users having grown well in the last years, and you answer that the percentage is still low, this will lead nowhere. Neither when I'm talking about all games and you insist this would be only about AAA games.


Last edited by Eike on 1 July 2019 at 8:07 pm UTC
Linuxwarper 1 Jul, 2019
Quoting: mirvThere are other reasons for not wanting to rely on Wine for gaming, even if Vulkan is used natively (by the way, a Stadia port does not mean a Windows version will also use Vulkan - in fact, there's very little chance of that if the Windows version is using DX11 or DX12).

Ancillary benefits from natively developed games include: better tooling, more stable drivers, investment in resolving certain compatibility problems, non-reliance on Microsoft, different compilers (often can spot problems, so I would imagine a Stadia port would help here as well as native for desktop GNU/Linux), possible peripheral devices being better supported (if more native games exist, and market share grows), etc.

But of course Wine (and anything based off it), eON, dosbox, etc, all help individuals play games they want without locking themselves into Windows. So it's very important to have that.

Basically there is _plenty_ of room for both native and wrapped games, and both are absolutely needed.
It goes without saying that native ports is the ultimate outcome. But market share must be higher for that to happen. Even if we reach market share that rivals Mac, developers could be lazy and rely on Steam Play for easy money. So I expect gaming on Linux will go through a phase of many games being played through Steam Play. And if that is what we have to settle with, until market share is so significant they can't neglect us anymore, then I hope the developers at least ensure best possible compliance with Steam Play (Vulkan, no drm, no middleware etc).


Last edited by Linuxwarper on 1 July 2019 at 7:21 pm UTC
mirv 1 Jul, 2019
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Quoting: Linuxwarper
Quoting: mirvThere are other reasons for not wanting to rely on Wine for gaming, even if Vulkan is used natively (by the way, a Stadia port does not mean a Windows version will also use Vulkan - in fact, there's very little chance of that if the Windows version is using DX11 or DX12).

Ancillary benefits from natively developed games include: better tooling, more stable drivers, investment in resolving certain compatibility problems, non-reliance on Microsoft, different compilers (often can spot problems, so I would imagine a Stadia port would help here as well as native for desktop GNU/Linux), possible peripheral devices being better supported (if more native games exist, and market share grows), etc.

But of course Wine (and anything based off it), eON, dosbox, etc, all help individuals play games they want without locking themselves into Windows. So it's very important to have that.

Basically there is _plenty_ of room for both native and wrapped games, and both are absolutely needed.
It goes without saying that native ports is the ultimate outcome. But market share must be higher for that to happen. Even if we reach market share that rivals Mac, developers could be lazy and rely on Steam Play for easy money. So I expect gaming on Linux will go through a phase of many games being played through Steam Play. And if that is what we have to settle with, until market share is so significant they can't neglect us anymore, then I hope the developers at least ensure best possible compliance with Steam Play (Vulkan, no drm, no middleware etc).

Absolutely agreed.

I also forgot to mention another benefit of Wine in general (and I'll stick to writing "Wine" because this applies outside of Steam) and that's for archival. Old games, some even with GNU/Linux native versions, may not run properly on modern systems. Wine helps resolve that in some cases, similar to dosbox, though I daresay with increasing complexity of larger modern games this won't be as viable in the future.

...of course source code would be even better, but hey, that's orthogonal to the conversation really.
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