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Epic Games CEO says a clear No to Fortnite on Steam Deck

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Were you hoping to easily play Fortnite on the upcoming Steam Deck? Well, Tim Sweeney the Epic Games CEO has made it clear that it's not going to happen officially. The thing to remember right now is that both Easy Anti-Cheat and BattlEye do support Linux. Both for native Linux builds and for Windows games run through Steam Play Proton. However, it's all user-space with no Kernel modules.

On Twitter, user Stormy178 asked if there were plans to make Fortnite compatible with Steam Play Proton to which Sweeney replied:

Fortnite no, but there's a big effort underway to maximize Easy Anti Cheat compatibility with Steam Deck.

 The questioning continued and when asked why, Sweeney followed up with:

We don’t have confidence that we’d be able to combat cheating at scale under a wide array of kernel configurations including custom ones.

Another user mentioned it seemed that Epic's CEO didn't trust their own product, Sweeney obviously couldn't let that remain unanswered with:

With regard to anti-cheat on the Linux platform supporting custom kernels and the threat model to a game of Fortnite's size, YES THAT'S EXACTLY RIGHT!

In a number of ways, he's actually right. Windows is closed source, so is the NT Kernel and usually 99% of drivers for it are too. Client-side anti-cheat obviously relies a lot on security by obscurity, so people can't see everything it's doing. This is part of the problem on Linux, where the Kernel and practically all development on it is done right out in the open and it changes rapidly. Developing anti-cheat against such an open Kernel probably isn't going to be even remotely easy. There will be ways though, especially if something like the Steam Deck had a fully signed Kernel and some sort of guarantee it's being used - probably numerous ways smarter people know of.

Really though, overall it doesn't give a lot of confidence for developers who might be looking to hook up their anti-cheat ready for their games to work on the Steam Deck.

The big difference it seems, is the size of the playerbase and how much of a target each game is. Sweeney is not saying it's not suitable as a whole, just that Fortnite is a massive target for cheaters:

The threat model for anti-cheat varies per game based on the number of active players and ability to gain profit by selling cheats or gain prominence by cheating. Hence anti-cheat which suffices for one game may not for another game with 10, 100, or 1000 times more players.

One user followed up by suggesting it was just a case of Sweeney not wanting Fortnite on a "rival's platform", to which Sweeney gave this answer:

Epic would be happy to put Fortnite on Steam. We wouldn't be happy to give Steam 20-30% of its revenue for the privilege. Supporting Steam Deck hardware is a separate issue, but the market for non-Steam-hosted games on limited availability Steam Deck hardware is how big exactly?

With that in mind, you're going to need Windows or to stream it via GeForce NOW on the Steam Deck. At least for games without such anti-cheat, you should be able to use the Heroic Games Launcher on the Steam Deck.

It does mean there's space open for another game to take its place on the Steam Deck officially.

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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly. Find me on Mastodon.
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Xpander Feb 8, 2022
He probably has all the statistics and knows the insides, So i think he is right. I find it stupid that people just start calling out with names for no reason though :( but i guess its the internet.

But thats probably bad news for every other big game like Apex Legends and so on also sadly.
Zlopez Feb 8, 2022
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Strange how the insecure Windows, which is targeted by every malware out there is actually more secure for anti-cheat :-D

If they had the anti-cheat software open, it could benefit from free fixes done by the people in open source community. It's not a coincidence that the best security libraries are open source (and the linux is dominating the server world). Yes, they have their issues, but these are usually fixed quickly, but in the security by obscurity you can have zero day threats that nobody actually knows about (except those who are using them for their own benefit) and nobody is fixing them.

Security through obscurity doesn't work in the software world.

Other thing that could solve this situation is to have anti-cheat software only on server side and don't bother with using it as another DRM on client. In this case you can control the server as you wish and if anybody connects with rigged client, you can just block it (It shouldn't be that hard to validate the client, plenty of services are doing it already in the open source world).

Only thing that makes really sense is the support for various kernels. But same as above, stop rigging the clients with anti-cheat and do a better security on server side.
crt0mega Feb 8, 2022
As much as I'd love to say fsck Tim and Epic, I can't blame him on this one.
damarrin Feb 8, 2022
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He doesn’t have to support all the various kernel configs, just the official SD one. Isn’t that what the chain of trust is for? Detect signed software and work, don’t and don’t.
rustybroomhandle Feb 8, 2022
I would love to know how much cheating from Linux users there are on something like Overwatch who have their own cheat prevention.
dvd Feb 8, 2022
Anticheat is so dumb. It's just like DRM... The only thing that reliable stops cheating is a paywall, but that of course would destroy games like fortnite. The only remotely acceptable anticheat is VAC anyway. That one doesn't need access to your credit card either.
Doc Angelo Feb 8, 2022
I'm not buying it. Sweeney says a lot of stupid stuff to win an argument. Especially around Linux.

"Sweeney is not saying it's not suitable as a whole, just that Fortnite is a massive target for cheaters"

I rest my case. This is so stupid, I'm out of words. Who believes crap like that?

(I want to add that I'm not saying that Sweeney is generally dumb or doesn't have knowledge about game development. I'm just saying that he has a very strong opinion, and starts to lie his way through an argument until he thinks he won it. There are people like that, and Sweeney is just one example. He's human after all.)
Ehvis Feb 8, 2022
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Not surprised at all. This was actually the response I was expecting for having wine/proton support to begin with. If you prescribe to the idea that client side AC is effective, then not having complete control and insight into the system is a big issue.

It also demonstrates that Tim can come across much more reasonable when he explains his thought process instead of just dumping statements.
StalePopcorn Feb 8, 2022
Can't Lutris be installed if you really want to run Fortnite? It's Arch.
rustybroomhandle Feb 8, 2022
Quoting: StalePopcornCan't Lutris be installed if you really want to run Fortnite? It's Arch.

You can install Lutris, and you can even install Fortnite, but it will kick you out immediately because EAC is not enabled for Proton on that game. EAC requires a .so file to be added to the game directory, and must be enabled for Linux on the server.

Last edited by rustybroomhandle on 8 February 2022 at 9:32 am UTC
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