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Is the "Linux Gamer" disappearing?
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anewson 5 Dec, 2019

Hi all,
I wonder what you all think about the state of Linux gaming in the proton era. Was there a big picture article about this on GOL I missed? These days I barely even feel like there's anything particular to Linux about my gaming. My steam library, once a pure collection of games with explicit Linux support, now looks a lot more like most other gamers. The last four games I've played seriously I ran using proton, and I'm sad (nostalgic?) to admit the days of checking GOL daily obsessively to see what games we'd get are largely gone. Proton isn't perfect, and steam isn't the entire gaming world, but for many they are each a reasonable approximation. I know that some people are exhausted by these "Is Linux gaming X" thought pieces, but I wonder what you all think? Has Linux gaming to some extent become a victim of its own success?🤔

anewson 5 Dec, 2019

I just read the post <Are we seeing the end of the most recent "golden age" of Linux gaming?>; maybe this question could be reframed as "Is emulation ending the Golden age of Linux gaming"

Liam Dawe 5 Dec, 2019

We're just going from one age to another, I don't really see anything ending personally. Less AAA ports from the porting studios, that's about all that's changed really and that was happening before Steam Play was even a thing, plus we didn't even get a lot of AAA to begin with anyway.

Thanks to Steam Play, people who just want to play games while being on Linux, have never had it better. However, there's still a long fight ahead. If we end up entirely relying on Proton, developers will care even less about Linux support at all. Proton itself as well has a long way to go, especially for multiplayer titles where it's junk most of the time due to anti-cheat.

I'm very positive about the future of The Linux Gamer, so many moving parts and things somewhere are always improving.

Something else to think on is the new Linux Steam Runtime container system, this should eventually help developers properly QA their Linux builds against something solid in a much easier form. Especially as we can pick it too, on any distro and it then should just work without any random lib issues.

Last edited by Liam Dawe on 5 December 2019 at 10:21 pm UTC

Samsai 5 Dec, 2019

Passing of golden ages is inevitable and that's fine as long as tangible progress is made along the way. The first golden age got us the foundations to build on, this golden age has given us the tools to make Linux games. My hope is that the next golden age comes from developers actively starting to use Linux as their dev environment or at least targeting cross-platform APIs as the starting point.

People can talk plenty about how Proton might expand our user base but if those users are buying Windows stuff then that user base has little weight, so I believe developers are the key here. Pretty much the worst thing that can happen here is development tools start pulling Linux support, tying developers further into the Windows ecosystem, which could still happen if companies like Unity or Epic think that their Linux export targets aren't worth supporting due to people just playing games via Proton.

As for me, I am too much of a radical to be swayed by Proton and the like. If nobody else will make Linux games for me, I'll just make them myself.

Liam Dawe 5 Dec, 2019

Quoting: SamsaiPretty much the worst thing that can happen here is development tools start pulling Linux support, tying developers further into the Windows ecosystem, which could still happen if companies like Unity or Epic think that their Linux export targets aren't worth supporting due to people just playing games via Proton.
Ouch, now that would be something. Thankfully, Unity already mentioned they've seen great interest in their Linux Editor (outside of gaming) so Proton shouldn't affect that. It's a good point worth remembering though, for sure.

GustyGhost 7 Dec, 2019

There's way too much inertia behind Windows-shackled gaming for things to change. Most people can't even conceptualize what is meant by vendor lock-in.

Liam Dawe 7 Dec, 2019

Quoting: GustyGhostThere's way too much inertia behind Windows-shackled gaming for things to change. Most people can't even conceptualize what is meant by vendor lock-in.
Without getting into all the current downsides of their current model...I honestly think streaming platforms will begin to change this though, especially with Stadia working across basically anything with a screen.

Even before the release of Steam Play / Proton (Aug. 2018), the developers of these games never showed interest in releasing their games on Linux.

1. Bayonetta
2. Dark Souls III
3. Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition
4. Grim Dawn
5. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
6. NieR:Automata
7. Tekken 7
8. Vanquish
9. Wreckfest
10. Yakuza 0

That's just a partial list. There are many games we won't have natively on Linux even if the developers who have supported Linux for a long time are still releasing games for Linux.

Even if Feral Interactive is able to double or triple their capacity to port "AAA" games, it still won't be enough since they are limited by the game library of the publishers they have partnered with (SEGA, Codemasters, Square Enix, etc.). Feral Interactive needs to secure partnerships with other publishers such as CAPCOM and BANDAI NAMCO.

Even before Proton, there are developers who stopped Linux support or have stated Linux has low sales. Stop blaming Proton if you see some developers dropping Linux support or will not support Linux in their future games.

We need more PC gamers switching to Linux or newbies using Linux for their 1st gaming PC. We can do that by showing them there are lots of games to play on Linux, native and Steam Play. Parotting ideals such as "No Tux, No Bux" doesn't help.

GustyGhost 8 Dec, 2019

Quoting: anewsonI just read the post <Are we seeing the end of the most recent "golden age" of Linux gaming?>; maybe this question could be reframed as "Is emulation ending the Golden age of Linux gaming"

Many GOLer's are probably already attuned to this, but for the sake of general knowledge this is probably an opportunity clarify some terminology.

Translation layer = converts foreign system calls into system calls native to the host. As far as gaming on Linux is concerned, this largely involves translating DirectX into OpenGL. Proton and Wine.

Emulation = takes things a step further by entirely imitating a foreign system within software on the host. Virtual machines, console emulators.

My own personal thoughts on these: When one purchases and plays games designed for other platforms through compatibility layers or emulators, one is indirectly telling the market "I endorse that games should continue be constructed adhering to standards hostile to interoperability laid out by proprietary interests". It is a single vote cast for short term convenience at the expense of long term freedom.

Last edited by GustyGhost on 8 December 2019 at 7:14 pm UTC

Quoting: GustyGhost
Quoting: anewsonI just read the post <Are we seeing the end of the most recent "golden age" of Linux gaming?>; maybe this question could be reframed as "Is emulation ending the Golden age of Linux gaming"

Many GOLer's are probably already attuned to this, but for the sake of general knowledge this is probably an opportunity clarify some terminology.

Translation layer = converts foreign system calls into system calls native to the host. As far as gaming on Linux is concerned, this largely involves translating DirectX into OpenGL. Proton and Wine.

Emulation = takes things a step further by entirely imitating a foreign system within software on the host. Virtual machines, console emulators.

My own personal thoughts on these: When one purchases and plays games designed for other platforms through compatibility layers or emulators, one is indirectly telling the market "I endorse that games should continue be constructed adhering to standards hostile to interoperability laid out by proprietary interests". It is a single vote cast for short term convenience at the expense of long term freedom.

So, what do we tell to PC gamers who are considering to switch to Linux?

Just stick to Windows? I'm sure telling them to just play alternatives won't convince them to switch.

Samsai 9 Dec, 2019

Quoting: Laboratoryo_ni_Neil
Quoting: GustyGhost
Quoting: anewsonI just read the post <Are we seeing the end of the most recent "golden age" of Linux gaming?>; maybe this question could be reframed as "Is emulation ending the Golden age of Linux gaming"

Many GOLer's are probably already attuned to this, but for the sake of general knowledge this is probably an opportunity clarify some terminology.

Translation layer = converts foreign system calls into system calls native to the host. As far as gaming on Linux is concerned, this largely involves translating DirectX into OpenGL. Proton and Wine.

Emulation = takes things a step further by entirely imitating a foreign system within software on the host. Virtual machines, console emulators.

My own personal thoughts on these: When one purchases and plays games designed for other platforms through compatibility layers or emulators, one is indirectly telling the market "I endorse that games should continue be constructed adhering to standards hostile to interoperability laid out by proprietary interests". It is a single vote cast for short term convenience at the expense of long term freedom.

So, what do we tell to PC gamers who are considering to switch to Linux?

Just stick to Windows? I'm sure telling them to just play alternatives won't convince them to switch.
Even many of us who are critical of Proton use do accept that Proton helps smooth out the conversion. I imagine you've gotten that mixed up with criticism of using Proton at the expense of native development efforts.

Also, counter-point: do we actually need more "PC gamers" and if so, why? Getting more active community participants is good obviously but getting someone to play their Windows games on Linux instead of Windows seems quite inconsequential to me and any growth in marketshare would similarly be rendered pointless if all of those people are buying Windows software regardless.

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