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Is Windows still better than Linux at gaming?

April 8, 2014

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.

More at Softpedia

Linux Versus Windows in Gaming

Is Windows still better than Linux at gaming? Tux doesn’t think so…

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.


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9 Responses to Is Windows still better than Linux at gaming?

  1. stephan on April 9, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Linux is my fav OS for many many years (I don’t use Win). Linux gaming is still crippled and probably stays that way for the next while. I’ve been always hoping that AAA games would be officially supported and natively playable. To this day this is not the case (with the exception of maybe a very few (older) games).

    AAA games are BF4, the coming Watchdogs etc (you get the idea) and not the crap (for the most part) which is broadly available on Steam for Linux atm. So we gotta be honest here and say yes Windows is better for gaming and it won’t change any time soon (although there’s hope of course with Valve’s efforts trying to create the right conditions for Linux gaming to take off).

  2. lpbbear on April 9, 2014 at 7:38 am

    The idea that Linux doesn’t have. or hasn’t had, enough games is bulls*t! Linux has been very capable of gaming for a lot of years and with Valve’s current efforts is now very much a gaming platform. The myth that Linux was not capable has been spread by Windows fanbois who just have to have one specific game perhaps not yet available on the Linux platform. With the current number of games available for Linux no one person has enough time in their lives to play them all! Just because one narrow minded gamer can’t find one or another specific game not yet available for Linux does not equate to Linux not being capable of being a gaming platform. There are plenty of other choices that are available for Linux. Just pick one of the many available and play it.

    • Muhammad on April 12, 2014 at 10:45 am

      Yes There are plenty of games on Linux but they aren’t as good as the ones running on Windows. I have a Dell Inspiron SE 7520 laptop, with Ubuntu 13.10 running on it. I still can’t find a “stable” AMD driver that can make use of my Radeon HD 7730M card. So even if there is a good-quality game on linux, I can’t play it without insanely heating up my GPU ! Speaking of which, I spent a LOT of time trying to make Linux properly control the CPU fan as not to keep it running endlessly as it used to do (I used i8kutils for this problem)

      Linux isn’t supported by hardware vendors because windows is still with the most market share. If linux can provide a friendly distribution with a friendly installation process and a friendly software installerun-installer, may be then people would find it easier to switch to Linux. A windows user won’t feel comfortable to be asked, how much swap do you need ? or to pick among numerous file-systems types or how would he like to mount each partition !!

  3. Brian Masinick on April 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Your article caused me to think about the days in the early nineties when I worked at Digital Equipment Corp’s 110 Spit Brook Road engineering mecca. I was a neighbor of two guys from Merrimack who also worked there.

    They’d get to work in the morning fairly early, work a full day, but at least a couple of days a week, if not more, they would stay after work to play on-line, network-based games. These games were played on large engineering workstations, not running Windows, but running either VMS or UNIX of some flavor.

    The resolution of those monitors was probably not as high as you can routinely find today, but compared to what you could easily get in a store, it was. The software that they’d use was probably not readily available either. But screen graphics is something that, at least on engineering workstations, has been available in some capacity for at least two, but probably closer to three, decades.

    Popular, inexpensive games have not been available that long. Before Windows, gaming was, more than likely, an expensive sport and you either used work equipment after regular hours or you spent a LOT of money to get your own stuff. But what got me thinking about this is the fact that we had games of one sort or another on systems that Digital produced going back even into the eighties. Those systems were mostly either VMS (a completely proprietary operating system) or UNIX, in a Digital ULTRIX flavor, an AT&T UNIX System V flavor, or some kind of other, not off the shelf, but low volume system, probably proprietary in its components.

    If it was done then, there most certainly are games on Linux systems (and we know that there are). I get it; people want to use 1080i or even 4K (8 billion pixel) monitors with accelerated graphics. Again, if you want to spend enough money, you can probably get someone to build something for you or write something for you.

    But the point of this discussion is that some pretty impressive capabilities have moved their way even into low priced commodity mobile devices, and if that’s true, the pendulum has shifted, because Linux can and does work well in those environments.

    I’m not a hard core gamer, so I’ll never appreciate the nuances of what the gamers are looking for. What I do know is that when my children want to play a computer game, the Linux laptops, and heck, now their phones and tablets, have more than enough stuff to keep them occupied. I don’t think this issue is going to matter much, except possibly for those “hard core” types.

    • Jim Lynch on April 8, 2014 at 10:59 pm

      Very true, there’s already quite a bit of games available for Linux, Brian. But I think this is really the tip of the iceberg and very early on for Linux gaming. A sea change is coming and it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch it take off as developers begin following Valve’s lead with Linux.

      • Muhammad on April 12, 2014 at 10:49 am

        I would love to live to see that change and experience it. But I have to say, the games quality on Linux aren’t even close to the games quality on Windows. There are plenty of games, yes, I agree, but they are not as good as the ones on Windows.

        • dragonmouth on May 16, 2014 at 2:52 pm

          “the games quality on Linux aren’t even close to the games quality on Windows.”
          That may be true but the quality of graphics in Windows games is nothing to write home about, either. In comparison to graphics in VR, those in Windows are downright primitive. The motion is always herky-jerky, the people look like caricatures, the scenery looks like something out of a bad cartoon.

      • Muhammad on April 12, 2014 at 10:52 am

        Let me apologize for stating that linux games aren’t as good as windows’s, there are linux games with good qualtiy. What I’m personally suffering from, though, is that I can’t find a “stable” graphics driver for my Radeon HD 7730M graphics card. My GPU heats up when I watch youtube videos, imagine what could happen if I play a video game !

        • grndzro on April 14, 2014 at 8:48 am

          The whole driver fiasco is being worked on ATM. Both AMD and NV are making a big driver push for Linux. It should get a lot better in the comming year.

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