In 2013, Valve founder Gabe Newell held a short and visionary speech at the LinuxCon. In good humor, he stated that talking to the Linux community about open-source and the future of free gaming is comparable to the experience of going to Rome and giving the Pope a few lessons of Catholicism.
A couple of months earlier, Valve had launched Steam for Linux, and the future would prove that the companies' bold move was right. 2013 proved to be an important year for the open-source platform's development, as Steam Machines that would work on Linux and SteamOS were announced. Fast-forward to February 2015, when Valve began offering for purchase almost 1,000 Linux versions of famous titles. According to Phoronix, a Linux news site, Steam raised the bar higher and reached the threshold of 1,500 Linux games during the last weekend.
On average, Phoronix calculated that Steam added 100 Linux games each month during the summer. While still behind Windows or OS X games, which feature 6,464 and 2,323 titles, respectively, the surging growth of Linux games is significant. The most purchased Linux titles that are available on Steam are globally acclaimed games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, ARK: Survival Evolved, Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2. The great range of genres - first-person shooter, MOBA and survival action-adventure - suggests that the Linux gaming community is rapidly increasing. Even indie games have a chance. On July 31, a Kickstarted indie game named Don't Be Patchman was the first title that got released on Linux before Windows and OS X.
There are, naturally, some mismatches between Steam and Linux. Driver support is sometimes hard to come by and the return of investment for developers is not always quick. In spite of these drawbacks, Linux enthusiasts see increasing support from established platforms such as Valve.
Che Dean, editor of gaming site Rootgamer, points out that "everything changed" since 2013, when SteamOS got its beta release.
"After years of promoting the various Linux distributions, we had a major gaming company not just porting their games to Linux, but actually creating their own Linux-based operating system," he says.
Dean further notes that the moment marked is an essential point in the history of gaming and that both developers and gamers from the Linux community are excited about the future.