22 Mar 2018

Is the lack of video games on Linux still true in 2018?

For years Linux has faced a lot of bad press about the lack of good gaming capabilities. While many hard-core Linux enthusiasts have stuck by their beloved system, the reality is that the gaming options in Linux just haven't kept up with the rest of the gaming world. Could that finally be about to change? Is 2018 the year that Linux begins to compete in the games market?

Short Answer: Yes and No

Although Linux distros have come a long way in being able to support gaming, there simply isn't enough market share for many developers to justify the expense of making a Linux version of popular games. That said, there are plenty of games and gaming platforms available for Linux users, you just might have to compromise on your wish list.

The Good News

If you are a devoted Linux user with a desire to turn your computer into a gaming machine, it can be done. Hardware companies do not have the same reservations about supporting Linux that software companies do, so it's pretty easy to build yourself a fantastic gaming machine. In the last several years, there have been huge leaps in the quality of gaming on Linux machines, and many Linux users report that they are very satisfied with the current ability to play supported games on their machines.

The Bad News

You may be hard-pressed to find anything that you want to play, and you're very likely to be disappointed in the selection of Linux supported games available. Many of the largest and most popular game developers, including EA, Blizzard, Bethesda, and Ubi Soft, are not officially supported on Linux. Check out the Steam Library for Linux supported games to see what games are available to get an idea of what is missing.

The Reasons

The primary reason that Linux has such a problem with gaming is that Linux has such a small share of the desktop user market. While they have a significantly larger share of the enterprise business market and infrastructure, most people that buy a PC for their own use don't build, unless they are hard-core gamers. If you don't build your own PC, you're most likely going to get one that has Windows installed already. For hard-core gamers that do build their own PCs, they will most often choose a Windows-based system because of the improved access to the games that they want to play.

The Bottom Line

Linux users tend to build and use their machines for purposes outside of gaming, and any gaming capabilities are an afterthought or a bonus. So the share of the Linux market for desktop users is quite small, at only 2%, and the share of Linux users who are hard-core gamers is even less. The fact is that the cost of porting popular games to Linux does not offer a return for game developers; they lose money when it costs more than they will make from their efforts, hurting their profits. As it doesn't look like this will change anytime soon, it's not likely that they're going to start porting their games just because a few people want them.

If you're a Linux user that is itching for some game-play, don't despair. There are plenty of options available for accessing a multitude of games, they just might not have some of the high-demand games on the market today. If you're determined to both remain a Linux user and play games, you might consider running Windows in a virtual machine, or having a dual install on your system.


Kate Thora is a Senior Content Specialist for BizSet - an online business database. She is also an avid blogger and might often be found online, sharing her knowledge with business owners and entrepreneurs.

8 comments:

  1. Post was generally correct but a few important false statements. The statement "EA, Blizzard, Bethesda, and Ubi Soft, are not officially supported on Linux" is backwards. It's not Linux (or any OSs) job to support a game, it's the other way around. Also, developer company's wouldn't lose money if big platform vendors didn't pay them extra (or refuse to pay them) to write specifically for their platform with exclusionary contracts and subsidies. Many of the tripple AAA game engines out there support Linux. Unity and Unreal to name the biggest/most popular. In-house engines are of course another story but anyone who's developing their own engine better have some very unique game mechanics that aren't easily reproduced in Unreal or Unity, or are an indie developer learning, otherwise they are wasting a ton of money making and maintaining it IMO.

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    1. Also would be nice to mention Feral interactive who do a fair job at porting a lot of games to other platforms as a business model.

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    2. Heh... One of the reality items is that even the custom engines are fairly readily made Linux capable- especially with Vulkan being available to them. Not terribly many excuses overall. If you can't manage to support the OS, you're actually doing something wrong there, to be honest

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  2. Lets see.. out of 600+ games in my steam library.. all but 58+ run under linux with either crossover or wine. I have close to 300+ native now and will add another one soon: rise of the tomb raider. It has been out been out for a while, but i never buy a day one game anyways. I have plenty to play.

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  3. There might not be that many AAA games available, but there are plenty, and the void between can be perfectly filled the the many great indie games available.
    You can have a whole discussion on which games are better; AAA or Indie? I find that overal indie games are much more original and don't shy away from trying new things, which makes gaming a lot more interesting (comparable to the early days of gaming on home computers and consoles when most game genres were not invented yet).

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    1. There's quite a few AAA titles available. Some of the indies...they're better in many ways anyhow.

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    1. Wine doesn't currently support things like Playerunknown's Battlegrounds. This is because the anti-cheat system doesn't work right under Wine.

      (Having said this, you MIGHT be able to get it to run semi-gracefully in VirtualBox with the Wine layer providing all the missing gaps to things for VM-ing it. Some have had successes in that area and I've been intending on trying, but honestly, I've been tied up with other massive timesinks from AAA and Indie devs on Steam... X-D

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