A few months after Valve officially launched Steam for Linux in 2013, Gabe Newell gave his LinuxCon keynote audience a little music to their ears. “It feels a bit weird to come here and tell you that Linux and open source are the future of gaming,” said Valve’s chief executive. “It’s like going to Rome and teaching Catholicism to the pope.”
Linux gaming was by no means a new venture, but 2013 is a significant year for the open-source platform’s gaming prospects with Valve announcing Linux-based Steam Machines and the arrival of SteamOS. When we looked at the state of Linux gaming after Valve’s 12-month anniversary, we found nearly 1,000 professional, commercially distributed games available as of February 2015. But there’s an even bigger numerical milestone to celebrate this weekend, according to the Linux industry. site Phoronix: There are currently 1,500 Linux titles available through Steam.
Phoronix notes that Steam added about 100 Linux titles per month throughout the summer. And while the overall number of Steam Linux offerings still pales in comparison to competing platforms — Phoronix lists Windows at 6,464 games and OS X at 2,323 — there’s no denying the statistic growth in such a short space of time. Anecdotal evidence supporting Steam’s Linux gaming growth also looks rosy. The five most popular Linux titles for Steam include major developer offerings such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (including the rest of the top five according to Phoronix ARK: Survival Evolved, Team Fortress 2and dot 2). And this summer is called a little indie game Don’t be a Patchman even became the first Linux-exclusive launch on Steam.
So while Linux on Steam hasn’t been a perfect marriage thus far – lack of driver support has been an ongoing problem, and the generally small market means little return for developers working on ports – there remains plenty for Linux enthusiasts to to get excited about.
“At the end of 2013, when Valve released the beta of SteamOS, everything changed,” Che Dean, editor of the Linux gaming news site Rootgamer, told Ars earlier this year. “After years of promoting the various Linux distributions, we had a large gaming company that not only ported their games to Linux, but even created their own Linux-based operating system. It was an incredibly exciting moment and a turning point for Linux users. “