In the past Linux has never had a good reputation as a platform for gaming. This seems to be changing with the introduction of SteamOS and Steam for Linux, but is it changing fast enough? Or is Windows still the big kahuna when it comes to gaming?
A gamer on Softpedia shares his thoughts and reluctantly comes to the conclusion that Windows is still necessary for the best gaming experience. Windows may still rule the gaming roost for now, but change is coming and it won’t be a happy ending for Microsoft.
The golden age of Linux gaming is just beginning
I can understand the temptation to give into despair when it comes to Linux versus Windows in gaming. After all it has been Windows that has historically dominated in terms of gaming over the years. Linux was either an also-ran or it simply never mattered in any way whatsoever to game developers. A lot of them would have laughed if you’d mentioned Linux to them as a viable alternative to Windows for their games.
I am a gamer, in the complete sense of the word. I’ve been playing games for almost two decades and my interest in them hasn’t wavered at all. I enjoy a variety of platforms – PC, consoles, and even mobile (especially during my trip to work). I play a large variety of genres and I’ve probably gone through hundreds of games by now. Believe me when I say that Linux is not a gaming alternative, at least not yet.
I’m sorry to say this, but when it comes to games, Linux cannot hold a candle to Windows operating systems. The reason for this problem is, of course, the market share. The hardware companies have been focusing on the OS with the biggest gamer base and that is Windows, without a doubt. For example, most of the innovations made by the GPU makers are only working on Windows and there is no indication that Linux will receive them too soon.
There is no way of knowing how many users like me are out there, avid gamers that are forced to use Windows, but who also love Linux for the complete freedom it provides. The main problem is that Linux is not yet technologically ready to become a gaming platform. It’s getting there, but it’s still a long way behind.
But it’s important to remember that those days are in the past, and they’re never coming again. Valve has made sure of this by releasing Steam for Linux, and the upcoming release of SteamOS along with its Steam Machines will put Linux on the gaming map in a big way. I’ve never seen such excitement among Linux gamers as I have after Valve announced SteamOS, you could tell that things were changing in a big way.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, however, and Linux as a gaming platform won’t be either. Windows has had many years of being the incumbent and that isn’t going to suddenly stop in the span of a few months. So Linux gamers need to be patient as Valve puts the finishing touches on SteamOS, and as more and more games are announced for Steam.
Steve Jobs was famous for his quote about “skating to where the puck will be, not where it’s been” and that is exactly what Valve is doing right now. Worrying about Windows is really just another way of looking at where the puck has been, not where it will be in the near future. And it’s very important to remember that when you think about Linux gaming.
The Windows gaming hegemony is coming to an end
Windows as a platform is in a lot of trouble, and it’s not just related to gaming. The mobile revolution has blown apart the control Windows once had over all computer users as well as gamers. Those who use iOS or Android devices can find tons of games to play that don’t require Windows in any way whatsoever. Mobile devices have also made users realize for the first time that they truly can live without Windows and be quite happy in doing so.
And the mobile revolution itself is really just a harbinger of things to come in Linux gaming. In other words, Windows has become vulnerable on multiple fronts. The cracks in its defenses started with mobile, but they won’t end there as developers also come to the realization that the days of Windows dominating everything related to computing are truly behind us. What sane game developer would want to put all its eggs in the Windows basket now? It could end up being a disaster for them as people continue to leave Windows for desktop Linux, OS X and Chrome OS.
So I prefer to look to the future, and not worry about the short term. Let Windows enjoy what’s left of its dominance in gaming because that is slowly but surely coming to an end. Better days are ahead of us and we’re never going to go back to the dark ages when Windows was the only game in town.