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Some thoughts on Linux gaming in 2018, an end of year review

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Now that 2018 is coming to a close, let’s go over what’s happened this year. It’s been incredibly interesting to follow, things haven’t been this lively for some time. Note: As this is a roundup of sorts, multiple links will go back to our articles talking about them.

The game porting company Feral Interactive have been busy this year, as they’ve released all these for Linux:

Additionally, they also put out their open source GameMode tool to help you get the most performance, although it’s still rather limited in scope right now. Looks like it’s still being worked on too, with “mdiluz” who left Feral Interactive for Unity working on their own fork to bring new features along with a Unity plugin.

Side-note: Marc "mdiluz" recently started a "side-gig" working on Linux tooling, thanks to a little help from Valve. Seems the first focus is GameMode mentioned above.

Feral Interactive have also been teasing a lot in the past few months. We now know that these confirmed titles will also be ported and officially supported on Linux in 2019:

I’m also hopeful we will see Feral Interactive team up with IO once again to bring HITMAN 2 officially to Linux, make it so! Quite a small list so far but a pretty strong one, let’s hope they have more in store for us.

Aspyr Media, another game porting company and publisher helped InnerSpace release and also finally managed to get out the cross-platform online patch for the Linux version of Civilization VI after much delay. Apart from that, they’ve been rather quiet for releases this year.

Virtual Programming released MXGP3 - The Official Motocross Videogame, while also teasing that Gravel is coming to Linux. A Hat in Time also appeared on their website to indicate a Linux port is coming, although it quickly vanished (the second time this has happened). Sadly, though the ARMA 3 experimental Linux port that Virtual Programming teamed up with Bohemia for was put on ice (for now) with no further updates.

Valve also did something that was quite unexpected with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive going free to play with a Battle Royale mode (thoughts here). That’s going to keep me entertained for some time! We were missing out on such a game for a while, so hopefully it keeps CS:GO strong.

Additionally, even though I absolutely love the gameplay in Valve’s card game Artifact (thoughts here), it seems the monetization model has caused a lot of players to look elsewhere. What started off as a strong start for it at around sixty thousand players has dropped like a rock. I fully expect them to make some changes to this. Even though a drop-off was expected, it’s a lot more dramatic than I thought and I imagine it has alarmed Valve somewhat. They say they’re “in this for the long haul” and they’ve been updating it with new features, so it will be interesting to see how they can turn it around.

We also had a few games (sadly) drop Linux support across this year. Notable titles including Rust, Phoenix Point and the aforementioned ARMA 3 Linux port experiment, although the Rust developers still keep the Linux version up to date with each new update and it may eventually see full Linux support again when Unity issues are ironed out.

Not forgetting the considerable amount of good indie games (and some a little bigger) that released for Linux this year! Honestly, I could sit here all day listing off great games released in full for Linux in 2018. I can’t list them all (obviously), but as a reminder of just how good a year it was, here’s a small slice in no particular order:

Cultist Simulator
Dead Cells
Forsaken Remastered
Horizon Chase Turbo
Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
State of Mind
Surviving Mars
Two Point Hospital
Wizard of Legend

That’s quite a varied and impressive selection on offer. Through 2019, there will no doubt be plenty of surprises. We’re aware of a few and we’ve already tested a couple secrets, it’s going to be fun. Do let us know in the comments what Linux releases you're looking forward to in 2019! Personally, I'm quite excited about Insurgency: Sandstorm.

Valve’s Steam Play

By far the biggest news this year—Steam Play! Valve surprised everyone by announcing their own special fork of Wine named Proton, this includes DXVK which kicks over D3D11 and D3D10 into Vulkan (which Valve funded). Allowing many more games to be played on Linux easily through the Steam client, that don’t actually support Linux.

It was something users had asked Valve to do for a long time and I’m still surprised even now many months later that it happened. Linux as a gaming platform couldn’t noticeably grow from indies and a tiny trickle of AAA releases alone, something like this was needed to bridge the gap. Especially helpful to those on the fence about dual booting or fully switching to Linux, not instantly losing access to a vast Steam library makes it a lot more enticing.

Watching Steam Play evolve with each new release has been interesting, although it remains to be seen how far Valve will take it. Valve have stated multiple times now, that they will eventually have something on the Steam store directly to show Steam Play supported titles. I’m very curious how they plan to do this!

Seeing so many people enjoying games they previously wouldn’t have picked up, is quite interesting. I picked up DOOM to test it out myself and I’ve enjoyed it greatly.

The elephant in the room though, 2019 will be interesting to see how many developers decide to shy away from Linux support in favour of telling users to try Steam Play. I imagine a few, but I don’t think it will be anywhere near as drastic as some think.

Personally, I will still be firmly waiting a good year or so before buying anything for Steam Play to rule out a properly supported Linux version. I don’t care how a Linux version is done, I’m long past caring about such specific details. Does it run and run well and is it supported? That matters to me more than anything.

Battle of the stores

Previous years had been quite quiet when it came to stores fighting each other for the crown. It’s like a bunch suddenly woke up from a long sleep in 2018, with multiple stores making waves.

The Epic Store

Epic Games are going to be one watch next year. They’re going to give Valve some tough competition, although probably not right away but over time I think they will easily grow into a huge store thanks to the success of Fortnite.

Even with their popularity, Epic still faces an uphill battle like all other newcomer stores. Although, they’ve already managed to get some exclusive games, developers have pushed back or cancelled their Steam releases completely for it too so it’s going to make things interesting.

In their initial announcement, they did say it would come to “other open platforms”, which presumably means Linux when you see this Twitter post from the founder of Epic Games. I don’t think you would tease like that, unless the Epic Store was going to release on Linux too.

Epic are also opening up all their cross-platform online services, Linux again wasn’t mentioned specifically. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t work on Linux we will have to wait and see on that on. We did reach out to Epic about it, to no reply.

I think it’s going to make some big waves across the industry, you don’t have to believe me right now though but I firmly expect it to make a dent in Valve.

Discord Store

Discord also opened up their own store this year, with a recently announced revenue split of 90% for developers and only 10% for Discord. While I’m not entirely sure how big a splash their store will make, they already have a pretty large user-base thanks to the chat client.

They also confirmed that their store will in fact support Linux, although they’re not giving a date yet.

Now, onto GamingOnLinux itself (the website—duh)

Across the year, myself and contributors together put out the most articles in a single year since we began doing this (well above two thousand). Some big, some small but the point is it’s another sign of just how interesting things are.

Not that it’s really much of an indicator, but we seem to have done well this year across various social networks too. There’s been a lot of chatter, a lot of new followers and it’s looking good. Our Twitter account for example, went from 7.6K to over 10.3K which is the biggest increase in a single year we’ve ever seen. Our Mastodon account is also sitting pretty at well over 2K followers too, which isn’t bad at all considering it’s still a newbie. Even our Twitch account for livestreams is doing well, with over 600 new followers this year—we’re hoping they all continue growing nicely as they are.

As far as I’m concerned, if things continue the same we’re solid for many years to come. Good thing too, we all love doing this. We passed the nine year mark in July!

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Whatever you’re doing this holiday season, have a good one and all the best to you. Thank you for the support, the comments, the correction reports on my terrible grammar, the laughs in the livestreams and more. Thanks for the fun, here’s to a fantastic 2019.

Personal note: I will be completely away from December 24th to December 26th and again on December 31st for some rest and relaxation to prepare for another year.

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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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buono 19 December 2018 at 4:37 pm UTC
Thanks Liam! Enjoy your well earned break!
stretch611 19 December 2018 at 4:39 pm UTC
In regards to the Epic Store...

If the company isn't willing to port Fortnite, which is a huge cash cow, what makes you think they will embrace linux in their store?

And this is a game that has been ported to Android.

In addition, Fortnite appears to be the title that will force people into their store through its exclusivity... You want to play it, get it only through our store client. You can't force the store on people that can't play the game.
Vortex_Acherontic 19 December 2018 at 5:23 pm UTC
Yeah Human: Fall Flatt also dropped their Linux support for no reason and No Break Games hoped nobody would notice.
The shit storm still goes on after several month now on their Steam discussion forum.

Their only statement was they want to focus on more Features on PC and Mac .. correct me if I'm wrong but in my eyes Linux is a PC operating system as far as I know ... well they meant Windows of course but didn't brought any updates except of some Halloween Skins on the Windows and Mac Version.
Also their game looks like their using standard Unity Shades and also the game play in the Linux port was very solid. For me there was no reason why they should drop the Linux support.

Oh and they mentioned in their FAQ (now it is deleted) that Linux users are first class citizen for them but than silently dropped Linux support ... wired hm?

I just hope they will change their mind and support Linux again.

If you want to read the full discussion on Steam:

And I want to add a positive thing:

HITMAN 2 runs flawlessly with Proton I made a full Let's Play on Linux

Last edited by Vortex_Acherontic on 19 December 2018 at 5:30 pm UTC
bradgy 19 December 2018 at 5:32 pm UTC
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2018, when I moved into a new house and set up our entire tech tree with open source from top to bottom, desktop, laptop, tablet, HTPC, homelab, phone.

On the gaming side there is so much fun to be had on Linux (eg. native games, SteamPlay, and emulators) that if you don't want to be on Windows, you don't need to be. And it's all an order of magnitude easier and more elegant than it used to be, thanks to the efforts of too many contributors to name.

Merry Christmas all. Thanks for another great year of Linux gaming coverage, Liam.
Nevertheless 19 December 2018 at 5:37 pm UTC
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LeopardIf Epic Store will be coming to Linux ( which i don't think so ) without a Proton like solution it would mean nothing.

It would give developers of Linux games another market shelf.
It would give Linux more market presense.
It would be a foot in epics door for Linux versions of their products.
g000h 19 December 2018 at 5:57 pm UTC
Realising that you can't put every notable game into this end of year article, surprised that Slay The Spire didn't make the notables list.

Meanwhile, although Facepunch has dropped support for Linux I have been playing RUST for months and not had any issue with it. Hundreds of hours of play. All the updates, e.g. the new balloons, the new ship, new weapons, new monument puzzles, and so on - all fine.
eldaking 19 December 2018 at 6:44 pm UTC
Epic has less than a promise of supporting Linux. Discord gave us a very solid promise, but still didn't deliver. I personally think we should refrain from supporting them (especially Epic) until they show something concrete... and even then, it should depend on how good their support is. GOG for example has some decent Linux support, but it is still severely lacking compared to Windows and their promises in this direction didn't mean much.

Those stores want to compete with Steam? The bar is set quite high, even with Valve's many flaws. Competition could be good, having options could be good... but only if those options are any good. Frankly, Steam losing space to stores that don't support Linux would be a quite bad thing for us.

Regarding SteamPlay, it is impressive and has a lot of potential. I am expecting new steam machines at some point, though not necessarily soon. Hopefully Steam can cut itself a good share out of consoles, which have super-terrible practices, while being forced to improve by competition on PC.
mrdeathjr 19 December 2018 at 6:45 pm UTC
Thanks to ethan lee for FAudio

With lastest wine staging is interesting try FAudio for courtesy of Kron4ek reddit user


Respect video have tested some titles using wine64 case:

Begins with tales of berseria this game dont sound correctly if use default wine pulse but with faudio pulse dont give troubles in tests

Followed by darksiders 3, show bad sound with default xaudio wine implementation (darksiders warmaster also affected) and dont possible recording with correct audio by this

And finish with ultimate marvel vs capcom 3, another title with missed sounds with default xaudio wine implementation

Him put avalaible Faudio build and seems him compiled with ffmpeg support, more about in this topic


This is some fragments cited by this user:

QuoteThe easiest way is to use "wine_setup_native" script from the archive. Just set WINEPREFIX variable to your Wine prefix path and then execute that script, like this:

export WINEPREFIX="$HOME/.wine" ./wine_setup_native
And if it's already usable, why didn't Wine upstream it yet?

It's quite usable, but there are some unimplemeted features. I suppose, that's why it's not in upstream yet.

Last edited by mrdeathjr on 19 December 2018 at 7:03 pm UTC
Salvatos 19 December 2018 at 6:51 pm UTC
liamdawehere’s a small slice in no particular order
I'm on to you man, that list is clearly sorted alphabetically ;)

Happy holidays and thanks for all the coverage. GoL is the only place I go for gaming news altogether

Last edited by Salvatos on 19 December 2018 at 6:51 pm UTC
Ketil 19 December 2018 at 6:58 pm UTC
Two point hospital is definitely the best game of 2018, followed by rise of the tomb raider.
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