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Now and then I come across a game on Steam where I ask in the Steam forum about possible Linux support, Marble It Up! is one such game but the developer has decided to let Valve handle it with Steam Play.

I’ll get something out of the way first: I think Steam Play is great, I do use it but I appreciate it’s a complicated subject for many reasons and some people don’t want to use it. This is meant to highlight some issues facing future Linux support as a gaming platform and as a talking point. Now, onto the topic at hand…

After the developer suggested the use of Steam Play, one user said “OK but that's not Linux support” and mentioned how they won’t buy it for that. This seems to have caused this particular developer to go on a little rant, where they gave some reasons why.

“Steam Beta includes Proton out of box. I guess technically the game is not Linux native but if you can play it with one click, I'm not sure there's a lot to argue about. You can refund it no questions asked. I think you'll like the game and there is no risk to you. Why not try it?”

Note: On ProtonDB, the unofficial website where people can rate how well Windows games work on Linux with Steam Play, Marble It Up! has a “Platinum” rating. This means it should be click and play, like any other game. To be clear though, that’s only from four tests so far.

The developer goes on to mention how Unity games aren’t technically native “no Unity game is able to run as fully native code”, how Feral Interactive (made a lot of AAA Linux ports) have their own graphics emulation layer, games like Curious Expedition that use Electron and so on. They also directly mentioned Tropico 6 too, which apparently works better with Steam Play/Proton than the native version, although ProtonDB only has one report to say so. They mention plenty more types of games and how they could package it up with Proton themselves and all the points are very interesting.

One part I found particularly interesting was this statement: “Is a truly native Linux worth it you that you would pay 15-25% more for games that had it? I've seen a lot of people say that but when it came down to it they just really wanted it to be free like Linux. So - would you really? Would you switch to a different Linux distro if yours wasn't supported?”

For me personally, it’s not a case of a game needing to be “native”, I’m so long past caring about the internals of a game. I want a game that both works and is supported. The latter obviously being extremely important, since if a game update breaks the Linux version then as a paying customer I would expect something to be looked into and fixed up.

Support is the biggest problem, we still don’t really know how things will go down in future when games stop working. The support with Steam Play is supposed to be on Valve’s end, although technically only for titles that are in the Steam Play whitelist which hasn’t seen an update since December last year and Marble It Up! Is not on that list.

You may end up waiting a day, a week, a month or perhaps longer if a game update or a Steam Play update breaks a game. Being realistic here, it’s not like a game developer is going to go and help fix up Steam Play themselves when part of the reason a developer is even using Steam Play, is so they don’t do the Linux side themselves. There’s also the idea of vendor lock-in here, Steam Play is all open on GitHub which is fantastic but again, how many are likely to go and pull it themselves for their games to put them on other stores for Linux? I’m betting about zero.

I don’t want to seem like I’m being a “debbie downer” (remember my starting statement, I really do like Steam Play) but it’s already happened with multiple titles that stopped working due to changes with Easy Anti-Cheat like Darwin Project, Paladins and Pandemic Express. That might not be an issue forever though but you get the idea, it can and will happen.

To the credit of Valve/CodeWeavers and Steam Play here, they did get a fix out for RAGE 2 into a Steam Play release the day RAGE 2 became available which was impressive, but that’s likely a special case due it being a bigger release.

As for the developers comment about people wanting things for free like Linux, I had an entire paragraph dedicated to debunking that but 99% of our readers know such a statement just isn’t true. It’s not worth any argument or time on, it’s silly and has been proven wrong time and time again.

They end their post with “Linux gaming has never been better than it is today in large part thanks to WINE and investments like Valve is making. Why not embrace it however it comes?”

I will absolutely agree that right now, Linux gaming is a fun place. Thousands of games supported and plenty more available to play with Steam Play, I’m certainly never bored! However, I'm interested to see how Valve and game developers handle issues as they come up in future before putting down a lot more money into games played with Steam Play.

So, what do you make of all this? What are your thoughts? Has Steam Play changed things completely for you, are you using it purely for old games or games both old and new?

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Swiftpaw 31 May, 2019
Quoting: madpingerAll these long posts.. No Tux no Bucks was the saying as I recall it <.<

Yes, simple and to the point. It really doesn't need any further explanation. You want to support Linux and have support? Then support developers who support Linux, and only buy games with Linux support.
ElectricPrism 31 May, 2019
QuoteFor me personally, it's not a case of a game needing to be "native", I'm so long past caring about the internals of a game. ~~I want a game that both works and is supported.~~ The latter obviously being extremely important, since ~~if a game update breaks the Linux version then as a paying customer I would expect something to be looked into and fixed up.~~

<3<3<3 AMEN. <3<3<3

As a Linux Gamer with 350+ games I've purchased it's not worth it to me to buy a game with 0 expectation that it will continue to work in the future. To my knowledge I am not able to download "old versions" of the game on Steam if the new versions break the game.

Also, lets be REAL for a moment. SteamPlay is nothing more than a ~~ Plan B ~~ for gamers like me. It eliminates the need for me as a gamer to go through hoops to play a highly anticipated title (rebooting to windows -- assuming I had a windows, which I don't. Running VGA Passthrough, or streaming from a Windows box in my closet, etc...)

I can probably count the number of games I would be willing to go through the effort to play on one or two hands.

Bottom Line -- If a developer doesn't want to go through the effort of providing support to me, I am unwilling to spend money. SteamPlay is a nice backup or Plan B, but native games will get my money 98 times out of 100.

For example. I recently played Marble Skies on Linux, amazing game, I couldn't give a damn even if the Linux versions cost a premium either, I'll still pay it over buying some half baked bug infested product lazily chucked at me with zero support.

~~ SteamPlay was never a silver bullet and it never will be. ~~

At best it may enable playing some specific AAA games like GTAV, Halo MCC and Final Fantasy XV but even then there are thousands of other Linux games I could buy and not have to dick around getting the damn thing to work.

If I wanted to dick around getting things working, I would have settled for pirating roms and Wii games, but because I'm classy I pay for my games so I don't have to fuck around with technical quirks becuase I want to spend time PLAYING MY GAMES, and not spend time FIXING OR ADMINISTERING MY GAMES.

Last edited by ElectricPrism on 31 May 2019 at 1:54 am UTC
thykr 31 May, 2019
I think Kompressor (the Marble it Up! dev in the steam forum) gave a decent and honest comment. They certainly sound like they know what they're talking about. I wouldn't dismiss their comment. :)
ElectricPrism 31 May, 2019
Quoting: eldakingHeck, they accuse Linux users of "wanting things for free".

My 2 Linux Gaming rigs each with $950.00 Processors and $600.00 GPUs speak otherwise.

Oh what's that I hear? :O They don't actually gather market research & intel and just parrot narratives and FUD passed down by the dumb IT of the world.

Last edited by ElectricPrism on 31 May 2019 at 2:02 am UTC
mylka 31 May, 2019
Quotemultiple titles that stopped working due to changes with Easy Anti-Cheat like Darwin Project, Paladins and Pandemic Express.

thats the point. MULTIPLAYER games can stop working.
i dont know a case, in which a SINGLEPLAYER games stopped working after an update and Marble It Up! is a SP game

maybe valve officially supports anti cheat software within proton soon, then you have less risk buying a MP game
Feda 31 May, 2019
Steamplay is good for random games that came with bundles or old games that don't work properly on Linux but I will never purchase a windows only game.
I didn't even use proton until a couple of weeks ago when I used it to install Anomaly 2 because Linux version is outdated and doesn't work. The game runs perfectly with Proton and I am grateful that it exists but it will never be enough to make me buy a game just because it runs on Proton.
Luke_Nukem 31 May, 2019
So... To break it down, this is about whether or not a dev supports Linux, not whether or not it's a native game.

The difference between the dev supporting Proton play, or supporting a native port is all a bit moot at this point if the answer in general is "No" to supporting Linux.
Gamewizard 31 May, 2019
Quoting: liamdaweWorth reading Ethan's tweets about this:

He hit most the points I was going to bring up including the fact that any thing using the Mono based side of Unity is as native on Windows as it is under Linux. Granted I don't think I would have been as polite pointing things out as he was. Hopefully the dev has enough brains not to try and take any pot shots at Ethan but sadly it seems brains is not a department this particular dev is leading in though.

EDIT: Also has Mac port but no Linux when even though Linux has a lower market share that we Linux users actually tend to buy more games, and I've read devs talking about the fact that's true even outside of Steam. Which I think is part of the reason why you are seeing more games with a Linux version but not a Mac build, plus it doesn't help developing for mac takes extra hardware that is pricey where as Linux worst case scenario it takes an extra disc and some effort to test it.

Last edited by Gamewizard on 31 May 2019 at 6:56 am UTC
Beamboom 31 May, 2019
Except for the rather sloppy claim about us wanting everything for free (who is obviously total crap) his arguments are rock solid, and in essence is nothing new. What he present is *the* major arguments against Steam Play - the amount of "ports" will suffer.

But then again, especially his arguments about also "ports" using middle layer translation libraries is particularly important. There's a reason why Feral can spit out "ports" of massive games as fast as they can, and with as few bugs as there are.

So in essence, as long as the performance is good and we're one click away of getting them installed and working, why should we complain, really.

I don't think that we in reality have any alternative if we want a good chunk of the AAA titles playable. And at least for this gamer, it's the big titles that is the reason I'm still a gamer. Not the small "indie" games.

/me returns to playing Fallout 4 on his Linux workstation.

Last edited by Beamboom on 31 May 2019 at 2:48 pm UTC
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