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2022 is officially the Year of Linux Gaming

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That's it, I'm done, finished. It's "mission complete" now is it not? 2022 is officially the Year of Linux Gaming. Yup, that's something I am now proclaiming and I'm also putting a flag down into February 25 (the Steam Deck release date) as Linux Gaming Day every year.

While the long-running joke of "Year of the Linux Desktop" might take forever to actually be a thing, Linux Gaming is now a lot more mainstream. Thanks largely to Valve of course bringing over Steam to Linux, and eventually producing the Steam Deck — putting the power of Linux and open source literally into peoples' hands.

Of course that's not to say it's all Valve. There's a massively long list of open source contributors who have helped to make this happen. From drivers to desktop environment upgrades there's so many different people, companies and organisations to thank. We wouldn't see the Steam Deck without open source and without the Vulkan API. I've said for years that we needed "hardware, hardware, hardware" with more vendors to properly jump in. It's not enough to have good marketing, or a good desktop, people needed a reason to use it to actually sway them over and clearly the Steam Deck is doing wonders.

If you follow the Steam Deck Reddit, you'll see a lot of people trying out (and actually enjoying) the KDE Plasma desktop mode on the Steam Deck too. Plenty of the fixes coming into KDE Plasma are as a result of people trying it out too, and finding issues, which then benefits all users. You only have to look at the regular This Week in KDE blog posts from developer Nate Graham to see how much effort goes into it.

The community building up around it is quite fantastic too, we've already seen a Plugin Loader come along which will be fun to see progress. We've seen multiple emulation tools appear like EmuDeck and RetroDECK, masses of developers moving to improve their games to add in gamepad support and better text sizing and the list goes on.

There's been times recently it felt like I woke up in a different world, when sites like PC Gamer told people to stick with SteamOS and not Windows and even LinusTT thought SteamOS did better overall. Never did I ever expect things like that to happen. Heck, even Jeff Grubb from Venture Beat said this in a recent Twitter post:

Steam Deck makes me want to puke from thinking about how stifled everything is by walled gardens. The community has already made Steam Deck so much better, and it all works together because it's open source. A better world isn't just possible; it exists.

Steam Deck, Linux and open source are finally starting to get through the cracks — it's incredible. After writing about it for so long, this really does feel like the "what a time to be alive" clip that came from The Simpsons and is now a fun meme for this sort of thing.

Heck, you even have Microsoft of all companies jumping in to repeatedly talk about their games on this Linux handheld, and even doing a guide to get Xbox Cloud Gaming to work. It might not be Game Pass on Steam (yet?), but who had any of that on their bingo card? I sure didn't.

More companies are even now looking to go with Linux like OneXPlayer because it's showing its worth, something sadly GPD don't see.

Even Epic Games are doing a little like making sure Easy Anti-Cheat can work easily on Linux, and getting Unreal Engine into a better state for Linux with Unreal Engine 5.

Obviously, this is heavily focused on the Steam Deck, but you need to remember that apart from the Steam Client, practically all of SteamOS is open source software and all improvements go on to benefit Linux Gaming everywhere. I think we're finally starting to hit that turning point for Linux Gaming as a whole thanks to this. Absolutely tons of people are now learning more about it, enjoying it and sticking with it — exactly what we want to see.

Now if you'll excuse me I'm off to go sit on my sofa and load up a AAA game on a Linux handheld.

While you're here go follow me on YouTube and Twitch.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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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.
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75 comments
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mt 15 Apr
This definitely is one of the Years of the Linux Gaming ever.
setzer22 15 Apr
While I can totally get behind the sentiment, I think we must be cautious about all this praise about the Deck. The work Valve is doing for the Linux gaming ecosystem is undeniable, but they're acting as a for-profit corporation, and I'm afraid sooner or later their interests might start to deviate from this community. What happens then?

If the year of Linux Gaming is the year we made the biggest step towards having all Linux gaming happening in a proprietary walled garden, I can't help but see that with a bit of healthy skepticism.

By all means let's celebrate the release of the Steam Deck! But it's also important for this community to start thinking about ways to game on Linux without relying on Valve's software and/or hardware. We need ways to use the Steam Deck without steam, or we are at risk of Valve having too much power over Linux gaming. We don't want users to think (quite ironically) that Windows is more "open" in this regard. At the very least, every deck user should start asking *why* the device's controller becomes useless unless steam is open. Adding all sorts of software as "non-steam games" is hardly a workaround.


Last edited by setzer22 on 15 April 2022 at 3:46 pm UTC
Liam Dawe 15 Apr
Quoting: setzer22If the year of Linux Gaming is the year we made the biggest step towards having all Linux gaming happening in a proprietary walled garden, I can't help but see that with a bit of healthy skepticism.
Well, Steam Deck is actually an open platform (almost) entirely. The Steam store is its own garden of course, every store is, but the Deck allows you to install anything - which is the point. Even I showed from day 1 how to install the Epic Games Store for example. Installing another OS is also a choice.

I get what you're saying, but there is absolutely nothing stopping any other store supporting Linux and the Steam Deck directly. That's the beauty of it. Realistically, I don't think "go into Desktop Mode" is a barrier for anything.

Quoting: setzer22At the very least, every deck user should start asking *why* the device's controller becomes useless unless steam is open. Adding all sorts of software as "non-steam games" is hardly a workaround.
That's not exactly down to Steam being proprietary though, there's nothing to stop driver developers implementing support for it directly. It happened to the Steam Controller, people wrote their own driver and UI for it.


Last edited by Liam Dawe on 15 April 2022 at 3:57 pm UTC
mr-victory 15 Apr
I always thought the year was 2021, not 2022. Because it was the year when new possibilities appeared like EAC + BattlEye support for Proton games, Deck annoumcement etc.
Anyways, if it happens, if Linux finally gets Fortnite in 2022 then I must agree. (which I believe will happen in 2024, two years after we gat a big fat no just like Steam for Linux)
setzer22 15 Apr
Quoting: Liam DaweWell, Steam Deck is actually an open platform entirely. The Steam store is its own garden of course, every store is, but the Deck allows you to install anything.

Indeed! Perhaps I focused too much on the negative aspects with my comment, but what I mean is that, as a community, we need to ask for these alternatives :) Theoretically, you can install "anything" on the Deck, because it's a PC, and that's a great step forward. But without real alternatives to Steam, to the average user it might as well be a walled garden.

Currently, the only comfortable way to game on the deck is to go via the Steam interface, and even things like emulators need to be wired as non-steam games or they simply won't work well. We need more Lutris, we need more sc-controller, and we need more of whatever is to come that will help us make our Decks less "Steam" gaming machines and more "Linux" gaming machines.


Last edited by setzer22 on 15 April 2022 at 4:04 pm UTC
mr-victory 15 Apr
Quoting: setzer22But it's also important for this community to start thinking about ways to game on Linux without relying on Valve's software and/or hardware.
That is not my problem. That is the problem of others denying Linux support.
Liam Dawe 15 Apr
Quoting: setzer22Currently, the only comfortable way to game on the deck is to go via the Steam interface, and even things like emulators need to be wired as non-steam games or they simply won't work well. We need more Lutris, we need more sc-controller, and we need more of whatever is to come that will help us make our Decks less "Steam" gaming machines and more "Linux" gaming machines.
I actually agree there too, which is why I continue to hope the Deck pushes Linux Gaming forwards, so that a bigger market opens up so more stores and vendors take notice :)
tohur 15 Apr
2022 has been the year so far I have been able to use Linux as my main OS, I have been doing alot of distro hopping since 2022 started but 99% of my gaming has been on Linux this year so far and by far most of my games work on Linux now other then games with anti-cheat.. this is the first time I have been able to say this.

I do think Windows days of being the preferred gaming platform are numbered.. it may take years still for the gaming crown to be taken from windows but I do think its coming within the decade thanks to steam :)
ridge 15 Apr
Hear! I was half-expecting this article, and I couldn't agree more. Let us all mark February 25th on our calendars 😄

(Maybe the Norwegian localization of the day could be "Game on Linux Day")
Spoiler, click me
Calendar entry showing an annually occurring "Game on Linux Day" event, in Norwegian
denyasis 15 Apr
Quoting: setzer22Currently, the only comfortable way to game on the deck is to go via the Steam interface, and even things like emulators need to be wired as non-steam games or they simply won't work well. We need more Lutris, we need more sc-controller, and we need more of whatever is to come that will help us make our Decks less "Steam" gaming machines and more "Linux" gaming machines

I also agree, but I'm a little less skeptical than you. I'm probably in between you and Liam Dawe.

Valve is definitely in the Extend phase of EEE for Linux and wine, and I can see at some point they may consider making the jump to Extinguish (pairing steam off of Linux into it's own thing), but I don't see that as likely or feasible.

1). They lack the resources. Valve is 100% dependant on the free labor of the open source communities. While they've done great work, most of the heavy lifting was done long ago by others.
2). Linux being open source, it simply can't be tossed out, the way Microsoft or Apple can get rid of stuff since it's all in house.

Linux will be just fine.

Quoting: Liam DaweI actually agree there too, which is why I continue to hope the Deck pushes Linux Gaming forwards, so that a bigger market opens up so more stores and vendors take notice :)

I would love to see more Linux support, I hope more games target native/wine in the future.

By chance, are there indicators on how well the deck is doing? I don't read much gaming news elsewhere, and it seems it's doing really well in reviews from what I can tell.
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