Back in the late '90s when GPUs were first emerging, OpenGL was the go-to API when developing a game for the PC. But as the years rolled by, Microsoft DirectX became the dominant API. Thus when you talked about a PC game, it was typically for Windows. But all that's changing thanks to Valve Software, which has been supporting Linux gaming for the past several years. Even OpenGL is getting renewed attention from developers.
Last week during E3 2014, Alienware's product manager Marc Diana said that the launch of the Steam Machines next year will likely increase Linux gaming 20 to 30 fold "overnight." These gaming rigs will ship with SteamOS, which is based on Linux, along with Valve's in-house developed controller.
"There’s more games that are Linux powered today than have ever been available in the market, and that continues to grow," Diana said. "It's projected that whenever SteamOS comes out, there's going to be 700 plus titles on SteamOS that are OpenGL games."
He also pointed to Crytek's CryEngine, which will convert DirectX to OpenGL without any manual input from the developer. "[Crytek] is a great example of a company that has looked at OpenGL and said 'You know what, this is the future of game development, we're going to invest in it, and we're going to make it extremely easy to publish on multiplatform.'"
Diana acknowledged that customers who buy into the SteamOS platform will be making an investment in Linux and OpenGL gaming. "They're going to increase user adoption rate 20 fold," Diana said. "Imagine how many people are gaming today on Linux, and how many people will be gaming once Steam Machine launches. It's going to be 20, 30 fold. Overnight."
Just recently, Valve's Eric Hope said that the release window for Steam Machines will be in 2015 due to the feedback the studio has received regarding the prototype controller. Because the team is busy making those improvements, Valve doesn't see a solid release date until next year. And because the controller is part of the Steam Machine bundle, companies like Alienware are shipping their solutions early, without the controller, SteamOS and the Steam Machine seal of approval.
Linux gaming won't really "explode" until 2015 if gamers actually buy into the whole Steam Machine console pitch. The idea behind Steam Machines is very ambitious, but can hardware partners -- including Valve -- push these $499+ "consoles" to gamers who typically invest in Xbox and PlayStation? That remains to be seen.
"I mean Valve, you never want to underestimate their initiatives, and what they are going to do with Steam Machine's OS is going to be unparalleled in PC gaming," Diana said.
Do you plan to purchase a Steam Machine? Are you waiting to build your own? You can find more information about that by heading here.