SteamOS Reviews

Thank you, SteamOS!

about SteamOS and Debian · ·

I can't properly review SteamOS because I haven't used it. But I have benefited from it because it has caused a considerable change for gaming.

It used to be that serious gamers had a choice between dedicated gaming consoles and PCs (and when it came to games, PCs used to mean Windows). In gaming terms MacOS and Linux users were second-class citizens.

Meanwhile, Steam became the preeminent game-selling service online. You want a game, chances are they'll be able to sell it to you online. (Remember the days when that was met with hostility because it led to the closure of physical stores you'd go to where you could actually buy a game in a box?)

Most recently, Steam decided to sell their own console. They decided it should run SteamOS, a new (back then) operating system based on the ultra-reliable, rock-solid, open source Debian Linux. But because it was Debian, and because Steam is such a big player in the games market, it means a new incentive was created for game developers to provide Linux-compatible games. (If it runs on SteamOS, it will run on desktop Linux distros too.)

As a result, the number of available Linux games has grown HUGELY in the last couple of years. As of today, there are over 5700 Linux/SteamOS games available through Steam, from amateur free-to-play efforts through to big titles like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, CounterStrike: Global Offensive, Dying Light, Portal 2, Rust, Football Manager, Metro:Last Light, The Swapper, The Stanley Parable, BioShock Infinite, This War of mine, Tropico 5, The Talos Principle, Civilization V and VI... and many other excellent games.

Presently, Linux gaming is probably still a slightly uphill struggle. The primary reason for this is that Nvidia and Radeon drivers aren't as well developed, tuned and supported for Linux as the community would like. (Historically, NVidia have been particularly unhelpful in making progress in this area.) But as the reasons for Linux gaming grow more compelling, the future looks ever brigher. Commercial incentives will re-align game-makers' and graphics card manufacturers' loyalties.

In the past, when a game was released for other platforms but not Linux, the mind reflexively said "typical!". Now, when that happens, it says "Well, why the hell not? Don't they know it's 2016?!"

Well, now it's 2017. Should be a momentous year for Linux gaming, and a lot of that is down to SteamOS. Thank you Debian! Thank you Steam!