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With the Steamworks Virtual Conference: Steam Deck over, we now have quite a few details that have come out on what to expect from the Steam Deck, Proton, Linux, SteamOS 3 and more.

Soon we'll go over some of the main points in another article, but something interesting caught our attention in one of the Q&A sessions. A hot topic that has come up time and time again since Proton was revealed back in 2018, has been whether developers will just drop native support and always go with Proton (or however it has been phrased).

We've seen a lot of articles across the web on it, and plenty of users from both camps argue it to death. So what do Valve really think about it?

We now have an actual answer.

Read out from developers in the session by Valve's Kaci Aitchison, the question was: "Would you prefer a game to use Proton or to have native Linux support, what's the stance on that?", answering Valve developer Pierre-Loup Griffais said "We have no strong preference. Really, it comes down to whatever is the best experience. So if it's easier for the developer to get to a point where the best experience is achieved through Proton we think that's great. But if they have the know-how or the resources to work on a native Linux build, that has a great experience and has all the functionality and they're able to maintain it, we think that's even better."

You can listen back yourself on YouTube in the full event video, with the question around 3:02:35.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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kit89 13 Nov
A very diplomatic answer, also a perfectly logical one, Valve is interested in games working, how as far as they are concerned is irrelevant.
mirv 13 Nov
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It's quite a non-committal answer, the sort you get from politicians.

Judging from investment and effort, it very much looks like Valve prefer "Proton". Just easier for them, makes complete sense. Supposedly however the Deck isn't as closed up as consoles, so it shouldn't matter what Valve want - it should matter what the community wants, what developers want.
d10sfan 13 Nov
I think the answer makes sense. There's many native games that are worse experience than Proton. Nothing because of Linux, just a shoddy port.

In that case, I think it makes alot of sense for companies to use Proton unless they want to take the effort to ensure that a native port actually has all features and is not missing major features, like multiplayer, or being out of date constantly.

I'll always prefer native first when buying, but part of that will be does the port actually work and do everything needed. If not, I usually avoid the game.
StenPett 13 Nov
Having worked on multiple (okay, two) games released first on Windows, and then on Linux, we saw that while using Proton/Wine was great for testing (it gave way better crash reports than what we got in Windows), performance was just about doubled on modest hardware when we made a Linux native build (up from around 25 FPS to over 40).
AussieEevee 13 Nov
That's pretty much how I would have put it too. Native is best, but I would love it if developers without the resources to make a native build would just focus on Proton/WINE compatibility.
AussieEevee 13 Nov
Quoting: d10sfanI think the answer makes sense. There's many native games that are worse experience than Proton. Nothing because of Linux, just a shoddy port.
To be entirely fair, there are a LOT of PC ports that perform way worse than their console counterparts, so this doesn't surprise me.
Julius 13 Nov
If developers target Proton/Wine as a stable API instead of doing strange hacks that only work on specific versions of Windows, then it is better then custom (closed-source) native ports. The GNU/Linux ecosystem is too dynamic and focused on working with constantly maintained open-source software, for the typical close-source game port to work without problems longer then a few months. Sure you can try to work around that with more stable runtime environments like Steam does or package it in containers etc. but at that point you might as well run another compatibility shim like Proton.

What we really need it open-source engines for games, not closed source native ports.


Last edited by Julius on 17 November 2021 at 12:59 am UTC
mirv 13 Nov
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Quoting: JuliusIf developers target Proton/Wine as a stable API instead of doing strange hacks that only work on specific versions of Windows, then it is better then custom (closed-source) native ports. The GNU/Linux ecosystem is too dynamic and focused on working with constantly maintained open-source software, for the typical close-source game port to work without problems longer then a few months. Sure you can try to work around that with more stable runtime environments like Steam does or package it in containers etc. but that that point you might as well run another compatibility shim like Proton.

What we really need it open-source engines for games, not closed source native ports.

The assumption is that Windows offers a stable API that can be reasonably and stably implemented.

Turns out that with a little care (and documentation, examples, bit of nice tooling would indeed help here) there's no reason native games can't work perfectly fine with a stable API to interact with. Almost like what SDL takes care of, actually.
kuhpunkt 13 Nov
Quoting: mirvIt's quite a non-committal answer, the sort you get from politicians.

Judging from investment and effort, it very much looks like Valve prefer "Proton". Just easier for them, makes complete sense. Supposedly however the Deck isn't as closed up as consoles, so it shouldn't matter what Valve want - it should matter what the community wants, what developers want.

How is it non-committal? And how is Proton easier for Valve? The constantly have to update it and work on it to make new games working. Native games would be easier for them.
berarma 13 Nov
Maybe Valve doesn't care but users should. Proton games come without support, that means the user doesn't have any rights regarding their purchase. In case of issues the developer can answer with "no Linux, play it on Windows" and they're right. Native games are supported, you're entitled to have the game working on Linux as the developer promised and they shouldn't do anything to prevent it.

To date, no Proton game is supported. What does Valve have to say about this?
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