Why Valve Wants to Port 2500 Games on Linux?

by on July 26, 2012 · 43 comments· LAST UPDATED May 10, 2013

in Hardware, Linux News

L4D2 Coming To Linux

Gabe Newell is the co-founder and managing director of the video game development and online distribution company called Valve Corporation. He want to port 2500 game titles on Linux. But, why? First, Gabe hates Windows 8 and he thinks Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in PC space. He recently made a rare appearance last night at Casual Connect, an annual videogame conference in Seattle. From the allthingsd:

The big problem that is holding back Linux is games. People don't realize how critical games are in driving consumer purchasing behavior. We want to make it as easy as possible for the 2,500 games on Steam to run on Linux as well. It's a hedging strategy. I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space. I think we’ll lose some of the top-tier PC/OEMs, who will exit the market. I think margins will be destroyed for a bunch of people. If that's true, then it will be good to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality.

It appears that Mr. Gabe is really worried about Microsoft as Windows 8 app store is going to take way business from steam. However, this is a win-win situation for Linux users as it will brings good game titles on the Linux system that haven't been there. I only use windows so that I can run games and when steam for Linux arrived I will get rid of windows install once in for all.

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  • fadi

    Yes, Once in for all ;)

  • Pierre B.

    Yep, i will finally be able to use the whole of my SDD for my beloved fedora…

    Bye-bye Windows…

  • Kevin James Lausen

    the guy who badly taught me windows is finally taking linux(ubuntu)seriously now that he can play counterstrike source soon…I went from the student 2 the teacher…also look @ the track record of M$:
    Window$ 95 (={
    Window$ 98 =?
    Window$ 2k :D
    Windows$ Me :`{
    Window$ XP :D
    Window$ Vista X~O
    Window$ 7 :`}
    Window$ 8…….???

    4 the record I have followed nixCraft 4 a long time and would have done the survey if the prize would have been an Android or Vavaldi(lol) tablet…I boycott M$ && Apple a long time ago…that even incledes contests…

  • kapo

    Yeah. Finally. Love Valve.

  • Steve D

    Gabe’s Windows 8 assessment could be the case, but Microsoft Windows will continue to reign and porting over a micro-sized amount of applications to Linux will certainly not change the consumer.

    I am a fan of Linux for 12 years now. During that stretch of time, there have been numerous predictions that Window’s days were numbered. I am still waiting to see this.

  • StoneCut

    That comparison doesn’t work. Win2k was an enterprise OS based on Win NT, ME was the consumer OS based on Win95/98. Win2k only “learned” DirectX with SP4, I believe. Up to this point most consumers hadn’t even heard of Win2k.

    Apart from that little fact it’s all good ;)

  • enrico

    Thanks VALVE!

  • dml337ira

    As long as Windows 8 doesn’t force app developers into it, like apple. Windows 8 should be fine. Steam is what helps make windows the best gaming platform in the world. MS should partner with steam not hinder it. As far as linux is concerned. I’ve been a MAC user for only 4 years. It was the best linux interface I ever had until Lion. I’m so disappointed in Apple/Lion that my next laptop purchase will a Lenovo w/32gb ram+Ubuntu.

  • Coop

    Ok, so we leave the line of Windows Enterprise OSes out of it :

    Windows 95 :)
    Windows 98 :(
    Windows 98SE :)
    Windows ME :(
    Windows XP:)
    Windows Vista :(
    Windows 7 :)

    Guess what Windows 8 will be…

  • Bachroxx

    I really hope that this is successful. I am not a gamer, but I only use Linux. This can only lead to improvements in X Windows and the video drivers for Linux. Adding to the user base will also lead to improvements in the Linux UI and experience.

  • Bjorn Roesbeke

    I was waiting for this moment. No more rebooting into Windows to play a game!
    Games are the only reason i still have a Windows 7 license.
    On the other hand i like to keep non-free/proprietary software away from my Fedora Linux system.

  • Matyas Csanyi

    +1 for I only use Windows because of games.

  • Michael

    Just like you I also only use windows for games. I basically use linux for everything else. On rare occasions I have to use windows for non-gaming purposes, but I will be very happy when steam comes to linux. Hopefully all the games end up running smoothly though.

    I still hope windows 8 doesn’t fail miserably like vista did, however I probably will never get windows 8 and stick with 7.

  • Jkm3141

    :-P

  • Jacob

    I wonder if Gabe actually knows that all of us who love the speed and stability of windows 7 can just click one of the live tiles in Windows 8 and still get the same great looking familiar desktop? Scary, this guy thinks Windows 8 will be a catastrophe instead of realizing it will provide the same amazing live tile interface across all devices.

    I dumped my Android phone this year and finally got a windows phone. Best move I ever made. I’m looking forward to having the same convenient live tiles on my desktop if I choose.

    Now let’s talk about Linux. In 10 years of being a Linux user I have never been so disappointed. Unity is the worst big Icon looking desktop I’ve ever seen, Gnome 3 isn’t far behind. Mint is making another set of desktops (Cinnamon which is the only desktop I like these days), and many others. In the Linux world you hear “Well choice is good, use what you want!.” Well I want my Gnome 2 desktop back on the latest version of Ubuntu, that should be simple right? The problem with Linux IS that there are so many distros. I just want my damn apache binary to be at the same path and not have to worry about which distro I’m using.

    Windows runs about 10,000 programs better than Linux. Lets see, if your a photographer, videographer, designer, web developer you can’t use any of the best programs – Pro Tools, Avid, Premiere, Photoshop, Lightroom, Dreamwever, and many more. What if you work in business? Well openoffice sucks compared to MS office (which the whole business world uses), how about SQL server? .Net tools, the latest printers, webcams, custom software. I could go on all day.

    Let me ask, with just about anything good not able to run on Linux, what do you actually use your machines for? To browse the web? Hopefully those Flash and Silverlight plugins work:) To run apache? mysql? Wait those run better on Windows too.

    I’ve heard it forever. When I can see what Gabe wants to pull off, I’ll believe it. Ah, feels good to rant:)

  • Peter

    Jacob, if you want Gnome 2, there is fork called Mate. Or if you want something else that resembles your beloved Windows, you can also try KDE or even LXDE. Yes, as you say, there a several choices of Linux DE’s, unlike Windows, which limits you to one specific desktop environment.

    As far using applications on Linux, I could go on all day also. There are many quality alternatives to the ones that you’ve mentioned which are free and open source. For example, instead of Pro-tools, there’s Ardour and Bitwig. For graphics and photography, there’s Gimp, Inkscape, Darktable and many others. Unless you’re a heavyweight professional who is prepared to pay hundreds of $$$, these programs are more than adequate for most users. And if you must use Photoshop, it still runs in Linux under Wine. As for office software, more and more business are saving millions of dollars by switching to open source software, like Libre Office, or free programs like Google Docs, which again, are more than adequate for most people’s needs. SQL server runs also on Linux as well as the latest printers and webcams. In fact, Linux has better driver support than Windows.

    I purged my PC of Window’s four years ago and I haven’t looked back and I know there’s many others who would like to do the same but are stuck with Windows because of gaming. So Gabe and Valve are doing many people are huge service by supporting Linux and I for one applaud the move.

  • bez

    I’m super stoked! I only run a windows partition on my laptop for the games.. For productivity, VM’s rule and get me my windows for native office and such.

    Would LOVE to delete windows 8! Hate that beast, but that’s where my steam account is.. Not for long! :D :D :D

  • bez

    Superstoked!!! Once I have steam in Linux i can delete my windows 7 partition!!!!

    WOO HOO!! You rock steam!!!

    And I still use windows for work and productivity, but only as VM’s. Never forget who the host OS is, and who the bitch is. ;-)

  • Jacob

    Peter,

    I hope Gabe can pull it off. I would enjoy that too. I have been dreaming of a Linux desktop as good as Windows or Mac for about 10 years. Every new distro and versions of apps that come out I wait with anticipation hoping I can stick with Linux for my work. I’m always dissapointed that the programs are “almost there,” but not as good as Windows/Mac. I understand that it is open source and people work on there own time. I understand I could lend a hand and contribute if I want to make it better. That’s all good but the fact is Linux falls short. Hell, since I use programs professional I would even pay for Linux programs if they were as good as Windows/Mac.

    I do work professionally as a web developer, video/sound editor. I can tell you with 100% certainty that Linux alternatives for audio/video/IDE’s are not as good as the Windows/Mac programs. GIMP is a great alternative to Photoshop, and I’ve used Ardour, JackRack, and many others for audio. But they don’t do as much as Reaper for example which runs on Windows/Mac and is free!

    Anyways, I don’t hate Linux. I use Linux everyday for running and deploying web apps. What does bother me is Linux users that diss Windows as some piece of crap OS when in fact every program I use in my professional life on Windows is better and more advanced than the Linux alternative (even if there is one). If you don’t like Windows that’s fine, but if people say Linux has better programs for professional work is laughable. Linux at least has to become equal in functionality to the Windows/Mac equivalents before people start ripping the other guys.

  • Dolmen

    The danger of Windows 8 for Valve is not the new desktop. The danger is the new app store that will be completely integrated and that will cut the business of Steam.
    That’s why Valve needs a platform that has currently no dominant app store.

  • Jacob

    So poor Gabe doesn’t wan’t to give Microsoft a cut of his software/games in the new App store.
    Imagine, Microsoft provides you with the ultimate exposure of a Gazillion desktops, phones, and tablets, and you are worried about having to cough up a measly 15%. You should be happy to pay 50%. Besides Microsoft’s app store is a great opportunity for the little guys like us. Linux developers should make Windows Metro Apps. At least you would be able to potentially sell tons of your apps and get to keep 70% of the money. It’s probably more than you make developing open source apps.

    Poor Gabe, he will only get rich with Microsoft, not filthy rich as he wants. If you want it all Gabe just don’t develop your software for the Metro interface and you get to keep it all.

  • Peter

    Jacob, you can argue all you like about how great Windows applications are but the fact is, 95% of Windows users have probably never even heard of Reaper, Pro-Tools, Avid or Premier, let alone use them. Most Windows users do basic stuff like web browsing, email, document work.and/or gaming.

    Now that Steam is coming to Linux, many disgruntled Windows users will no longer see the need to continue using a propriety lock-in platform when they will now have the option of using a free, open and secure system while still being able to play the games they like. As for that small percentage that need specialized applications which only run in Windows, nothing changes for them in terms of gaming so it’s a win for everyone.

  • Alpheus

    On the other hand, what did Microsoft do, besides provide the platform? Linux provides a platform, too, *and* the Linux developers don’t expect you to fork over your money, just because you develop on that platform. What’s a platform worth? Is it *really* worth 30% of your income? (At one point, Nokia charged 8%, and they seemed to do just fine worldwide…at least, before they devoted their energies to Windows phones.)

    Furthermore, it seems to me that Gabe doesn’t think that Microsoft is going to deliver on access–that is, Microsoft tablets and phones are failing left and right, and he expects the desktop to follow suit. If he can port all his games to Linux, while *still* having his games run on Microsoft, he can still come out ahead, whether or not Microsoft turns out to remain as the dominant player.

  • Alpheus

    There’s another thing that I find annoying about your desire to require developers to give a cut to Microsoft. For how many decades have software developers been able to write and sell their software, independent of Microsoft? And for how many decades have the users been able to install that said software–the software they’ve already paid for?

    And now you’re telling everyone–developers and users alike–that they have to pay a fee for something, that they have been able to do for free before–all because Microsoft wants to make extra money?

    Yeah, like *that’s* going to fly!

  • Ed

    I didn’t know SQL Server runs on Linux!?

  • Jacob

    The platform, more precisely the end user base is where all the value is in my opinion. Lets say there are 1 million Linux OS’s running and 1 billion windows OS’s running, if I want access to those billion I have to pay a little to da man to get access to the ridiculous amount of users they were able to hold on to over 30 years. It’s not like Apple doesn’t get a cut of everything as well.

    The point is you still have a choice. If you don’t want to pay up, you can put up your own web site and deliver it for free. You can also give it away for free in the Linux world. But who wouldn’t expect to get a cut for their distribution platform/network.

    Everything works that way. If you want to sell potato chips, you pay a cut to a distribute for access to their clients. Heck there is a cost to everything. Even if you give away free software for download somebody is getting hammered for the bandwidth and hosting costs.

  • RevelingSeven

    In my opinion if Microsoft is going to take a cut at the application store level, they should lower the entry point of development. Meaning the prices of all the resources it requires to development on the platform need to be provided to the developers at a reduced cost and of free.

    A lot of businesses are already taking a gamble investing time and money in to a development cycle. Even more so due to the fact that they have to retrain on the new methods for developing metro applications compared to .NET development. QA systems and personnel will need to be retrained in testing and analyzing the new applications.

    I understand nothing truly comes for free, but there is a give and take relationship in every thing. On the other hand if people feel the price of entry is to steep there are alternate platforms to target, they will just more than likely not be as profitable and more of a niche market.

  • bart

    Jacob, how long have you been working for Microsoft?

  • Jacob

    @RevelingSeven – Best comment so far, I agree with you that it costs big bucks to develop on the .NET platform and they should let developers build apps for free if they are going to take a cut.

    @Bart – Wish I worked for MS. How about you and I develop some Metro apps together? We’ll pay Microsoft a 20% cut for allowing us access to the millions of users that buy our apps:) Not an MS fan boy, just not a fan of Linux users ripping Microsoft when in reality the video, audio, web design, graphics programs, and games are much better on Windows and Mac OSX than the software available on Linux. Yes, if your a home user then the Linux software for these type of applications are “good enough.”

  • Kayot

    I see the benefits of a free operating system. What I don’t see is unity. I started with Red Hat what ever version. I though, oh this is Linux. I couldn’t be more wrong. That was one distro of Linux. One of hundreds. Linux isn’t an operating system. It’s a brand. (or kernal for those who know what that means.)

    The bigger problem isn’t putting steam onto Linux. It’s getting people to use Linux instead of Win7/8. I only went to 7 because I had a huge fakeraid die on me and I needed a software raid. I had a choice. Use a Linux software raid, which I got a ton of conflicting data (Google isn’t your friend when documentation is outdated yet high on search priority.) or use a Win 7 software raid which was benched at or better than a Linux raid. Familiarity breeds stagnation. That and most Linux users have this infuriating tendency to post lmgtfy links. Really? I put in my topic that I Googled it already, douche.

    All that said, Win8 looks terrible. I’m not a fan of Win7 either. I wish WinXP would just release a SP4 with all the goodness of Win7. What ever happened to .NET?

  • donkey on PCP

    HAhahahaahah!! YES! Ditch DirectX and develop with OpenGL!

    I’m certain M$ has some type of trick up their sleeve to poison this well of good news, they always do.

  • Sayajin

    Awesome Valve!!!, now if only Blizzard (wow) & Arenanet (guildwars2) took
    the same approach.

  • tedd

    yes finnaly , let this windows era end already.

  • Peter

    Ok let me just say. For starters, MS products are expensive. If you’re poor like I am you cannot afford to buy them. I’m a fan of open source because I can afford them. The fact that they are often free doesn’t stop me supporting them with donations, the point is I pay what I can afford. That’s why the open source world is more attractive to me than the MS world. I can get good programs like DigiKam for free, and while it’s not ADOBE Photoshop, which is way overpriced, it does what I need. Now I realise you can get Open Source for windows – that’s not my point. I don’t want to support a vast megalomaniacal corporation like MS, despite the philanthropy of Gates these days. LibreOffice is pretty damn good software, and even if MS Office is better in some ways, it doesn’t behoove me to want to pay hundreds of dollars when all the everyday things I do can be done just as well in an open source product.

    Anyway, expense aside…I am happy with Ubuntu 12.04, it’s the dummies build of linux, but I am no developer or even a programmer…I use the internet to surf the net, chat, and do some online shopping, so all I need is Firefox. Internet Explorer has always been a dog by comparison.

    I am happy that Valve is porting games to Linux, it will make it so much more attractive to consumers, and given that the Ubuntu build is so simple to install and use, and it doesn’t take someone too computer savvy to use, I think we will start to see a golden age of linux come about, so to speak. if it goes ahead.

  • lepusfelix

    You guys talking about Gabe wanting to make more money and avoiding paying Microsoft…. Technically, the user share aspect isn’t something Gabe would be paying 20% for. People use Windows because of the software on it, not ‘because it’s Windows’, therefore if developers do not develop for Windows (and thus don’t have to pay to do so), the software available on Windows will deteriorate and the users will move. People who want to use Steam will use Steam, no matter what OSs it’s available on.

    If Valve cut Steam for Windows altogether, Mac sales to Steam users would go up. As things are, Linux users use wine a lot to use Steam. People follow the products, not the OS. We don’t usually complain when our favourite apps are ported, as long as we can use them ourselves, who really cares if others can use them too?

    Steam coming to Linux sounds to me like a godsend, even though I’m not a big gamer). So far, Linux hasn’t been taken seriously as a fully-functional desktop platform, with the big developers porting late and grudgingly, because for one they (usually) don’t make much money from it and also having to learn new standards and struggle with providing support. Steam is likely to generate a rapid development in hardware support because of working with the hardware vendors, maybe (though not really substantial) a few more people taking on Linux, plus allowing us to stop having to launch wine all the time.

    In my opinion, although wine works fairly well for most stuff, it should only be used as a back up measure. When you absolutely have to run Windows-only software, it’s a lifesaver. But I don’t feel it helps much that the general attitude towards Linux users who would like to use that software is ‘oh, just use wine’. Wine isn’t perfect, and it is also not an adequate replacement for native ports. It’s perfect for the occasional last resort, but in my opinion it should never be accepted as the norm, because that encourages people to not ask for a native port. Native apps are more stable, run more smoothly and are designed to work with what you have, which should be the very basic fundamental requirement of any discerning software user.

  • Meh

    If they want to port over games they should provide the source code otherwise fuck off that includes the inclusion of DRM in Linux :)

  • uh20

    welp folks in one short statement
    windows has universally accepted code and linux is free code
    jacob likes universally accepted code
    and peter likes free code

    if one company made their unversally accepted code free to edit, and vice versa, then we would have the best o.s. on the planet

    the reason why linux is slightly nicer in the long run is that they are actually trying to do that, unlike microsoft

    any questions?

  • uh20

    its all the craze, with the simple fact that linux gets better with usage and software generalization (which is a pretty straight away goal), all you need to do is convince your friends, i know, i do it all the time.
    thats why we all look bitter about windows, heck, were trying to get linux better, and that means dying down windows generalizations and software lock-ins

    i hope you find that as insigntful knowlege to all of us linux posters madness, even if its not ethically right, it does have a purpose.

    also, if you want to know whats been hidin behind all these years, hp webos, its a godawsome arm-linux build that can just blast android and windows phone right out of the water, too bad it did’nt get any traction, give and take it suffers the same fate as normal linux, not enough application support drives the masses away like one massive chicken and egg scenerio

    yay more ranting

  • mark

    As much as i like Linux and Ubuntu I have installed w7 on this laptop again. I have followed Linux for years back when i was young and loved using it when w95 was out. I don’t see Linux taking off because of these you might have a few more users do to not having to boot up in windows to play their games but other than that i don’t see it going anywhere. There best bet is to use Google Chrome OS. I know its Linux based but it also plays netflix a Google would love to help move Microsoft from being at the top.

  • geoff

    I walked away from Windows to Linux Mint years ago. Windows is the most prolific OS, but not the best. Viruses and malware have become more than a nuisance, but not for Linux. Ever more powerful PCs required to get adequate performance with each new Windows release, another Linux plus. With up to date games coming to Linux will, I believe, bring it into the main stream and make it OS to be reckoned with at long last.

    Lastly, buy a Windows phone, you really must be joking.

  • Flamebait

    Oh look! A graphic artist posing as a web developer. You must be one of those point’n’click SysAdmins. You sound the type to run a GUI on a server. Shouldn’t you be downloading a “critical update” & rebooting all your overpriced, MS-taxed rigs?

  • Rikard Johansson

    eherm… Linux was built from the very beginning of the same concept as “app-stores”. Meaning, application (and system-packages) packaged for repositories (file-servers) for everyone to install from. It has been so since early 1990… it’s just that Apple, and now Microsoft, makes a very big deal about it. They are also a lot more restricted and money-driven, hence Valve made the move…

  • Carlos Silva

    That’s bad news for MS… Wonderful for users, as we don’t need another middleman between us and our games.

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