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Reddit seems to be buzzing with information from SteamDB (full credit to them for finding it) showing indications that Valve might be adding support for compatibility tools to enable you to play games on operating systems they weren't designed for, like Wine.

I won't copy all of it, but a few interesting bits do certainly stick out like the string named "Steam_Settings_Compat_Info" where the description reads "Steam Play will automatically install compatibility tools that allow you to play games from your library that were built for other operating systems.".

There's also "Steam_Settings_Compat_Advanced_Info" which reads as "You may select a compatibility tool to use with games that have not been tested or verified to work on this platform. This may not work as expected, and can cause issues with your games, including crashes and breaking save games."

Valve do also have a Valve Compatibility Manifests and Valve Compatibility Manifests for Beta Testing set of packages that show up on SteamDB.

That certainly sounds like something Wine related, perhaps with a sprinkle of something like DXVK, don't you think? However, it could even just be DOSBox, a Valve-sponsored tool or anything—we simply don't know enough at this point.

Having the ability to use tools like Wine from within the native Linux Steam client, is actually something that has been requested for a long time by quite a number of people. It could certainly make using Wine less of a hassle for Steam games. If so, it might even give developers a better idea of how many people are on different operating systems if it showed up in their statistics when someone's using such a feature.

It might even be quite a smart business move for Valve, as it might push more people to buy games that have a decent enough rating through one of these compatibility tools.

It could all end up being nothing, so take it with your usual pinch of salt. Even if it does end up being a real feature, it could be quite a long way off too. I'm only posting it because I personally found it quite interesting, I'm pretty sceptical about it for a number of reasons, but doesn't stop it being somewhat exciting too.

What are your thoughts?

56 Likes, Who?
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92 comments
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Hori 15 August 2018 at 7:54 am UTC
jayceeThis could actually be a major blow to encouraging devs to natively port to Linux.. Why bother if the emulator (spare me the lecture) will run your Windows build?
The decision to port to Linux or not ALWAYS comes down to cost.

If few people buy the game, it's expensive - they will not port it.
If many people buy the game, it's profitable - they will port it.

Don't think about cost as being development cost - that's a small part of it. There's QA, support, advertisement maybe, etc. Even if the port is just a few button clicks away, it might still be way too expensive for a company to do it. There's a lot into play there, that the users don't know about.

However, if the game is profitable enough, they will still do the port.

Companies often reject the idea of Linux because they don't want to spend money supporting the game on other OSes (especially ones with which they don't have experience), so they do everything they can to keep the game from reaching that OS. If the game reaches that OS and problems arise and the game has glitches, bugs, or other problems that players complain about, the company gets a huge blow because of that.
E.g. that's why all Bethesda's id games are not available on Linux - even tho they are pretty much "ported" already.
However, if Valve releases those compatibilty layers, the flood gates will be opened. There's not going to be anything to stop people from playing the game on Linux. The company will have to support it if there's enough people using it there - otherwise it will hurt them not to do it.

There's also the possiblity that said company will go to Valve and demand the feature to be disabled for their games. This is a grim alternative scenario, but it could very well happen.

EDIT: Wherever I talk about number of sales and players in this comment, I mean those on Linux, not the overall count. Huge Windows sales won't help Linux (or Mac) in any way, while equal sales between the 3 (even tho each one gets fewer) will; even tho the company still gets the same amount of money.


Last edited by Hori at 15 August 2018 at 7:57 am UTC
Finalizer 15 August 2018 at 8:10 am UTC
One gamesystem rule them all(xp,vista,win7,win8,win10 games), one gamesystem find them, one gamesystem bring them all and in the day light bind them, in the land of steamos (linux) where the new gaming light lie.Does that sound tempting, doesn't it?
Aijes 15 August 2018 at 8:21 am UTC
I don't like it and think it can potentially endanger Linux as a gaming platform. Sure Wine can be a quick and dirty way to bring in some more Linux users, but for how long? Don't most users want official/native and competitive support? Note with "most users" I don't have current Linux users on my mind, but those who you would introduce to Linux. In my experience most users, with a few exceptions, will laugh loudly at you if you bring up Wine to the discussion because Wine can never provide the same experience as a gaming studio who really care for the customers platform.
For years we've seen a steady increased interest for Linux from gaming studios and if they see a viable option to never support a platform or even drop their support because current Linux users are just as willing to pay for Wine-gaming, that interest may drop as a rock.

With all that said, it can still work, but Valve really needs to be extremely careful. They cannot give the two options equal treatment, there must be some very obvious disadvantages to the users. Some bold disclaimers. Better if the Wine option is hidden somewhere deep in the settings. Only then there can be a hope that gaming studios will still see a incentive to give real support for Linux.
Samsai 15 August 2018 at 8:29 am UTC
Heresy, I tell you.

QuoteIf few people buy the game, it's expensive - they will not port it.
If many people buy the game, it's profitable - they will port it.

If many people buy the game, they already got your money. No further action required. The only good thing that can come from this is more people switching to Linux, but even then if they are perfectly happy with the compatibility layer (they won't be) it does not encourage any further porting efforts.
0aTT 15 August 2018 at 8:58 am UTC
Finally I wonder if the DXVK human doesn't get paid by someone after all. The workload is impressive for a free project without payment. If Valve hasn't already hired the person, they should think about it. And Lutris?
kazriko 15 August 2018 at 9:03 am UTC
It seems like a short term benefit, with a potential long term downside. If you make it easy to just run the games in compatibility mode, most devs might just consider that good enough and not bother with a native port.

OS/2's windows 3.x and Win32S support was believed to be part of why fewer apps were ported to OS/2, and at the same time, the fact that MS kept intentionally breaking Win32S support on OS/2 made it a poor experience for a lot of the users, which drove users away from the platform.

We'll see though how it turns out.
liamdawe 15 August 2018 at 9:15 am UTC
https://twitter.com/thexpaw/status/1029627718344888321?s=19

Looks like it's for Mac, according to the SteamDB guy it was from an OSX binary.
Solar 15 August 2018 at 9:18 am UTC
ElectricPrism
SolarIt would be awesome, but also very bad because Valve would be in complete control.

Be realistic. Where would Linux Gaming be in 2018 if Valve hadn't stepped in in 2013. Valve already is a MAJOR influence and has some measure of control.

Can we stop acting like abused children who are scared of someone who is not us being in control? Valve have proved themselves trustworthy and I expect things to stay that way as long as Gaben is alive.

You completely missed the topic of the conversation. You should go back and re-read it a bit slower this time because I/we wasn't complaining.
We were just syaing it could (keyword) be good, and bad at the same time.


Last edited by Solar at 15 August 2018 at 9:22 am UTC. Edited 2 times.
Ehvis 15 August 2018 at 9:30 am UTC
liamdawehttps://twitter.com/thexpaw/status/1029627718344888321?s=19

Looks like it's for Mac, according to the SteamDB guy it was from an OSX binary.

Makes sense if they are preparing for the deprecation of OpenGL.
liamdawe 15 August 2018 at 9:35 am UTC
Ehvis
liamdawehttps://twitter.com/thexpaw/status/1029627718344888321?s=19

Looks like it's for Mac, according to the SteamDB guy it was from an OSX binary.

Makes sense if they are preparing for the deprecation of OpenGL.
Think about it though, if they're going to have some kind of compat layer support...why be Mac only
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