Valve May Be Crafting a Way to Play Windows Steam Games on Linux

Users from the Linux Gaming Reddit have discovered a string of code in Steam's graphical user interface files that suggests Valve is currently working on a compatibility tool called Steam Play to enable Windows-based games to run flawlessly on the Linux operating system (OS).

In recent years, game developers started to include support for Linux in their titles. But the truth is gaming on Linux still has a long way to go. Linux gamers have turned to third-party applications, such as Wine or DOSBox, to play Windows games that lack official support for the OS. However, Valve may be about to shake things up as it is allegedly working on a proprietary compatibility tool for its popular Steam client.

The compatibility tool is purportedly named Steam Play and WILL apparently come with its own graphical user interface and settings menu. Steam Play automatically installs the necessary compatibility tools to allow Linux gamers to play titles that were designed for the Windows operating system. In addition to working without hiccups with an existing list of supported games, Steam Play features a useful function to test games from users' Steam libraries that haven't been verified with a supported compatibility tool.

There is speculation around the internet that Steam Play is nothing more than a simple wrapper function to call up Wine or DOSBox since Steam's native Linux client presently lacks the function to run emulation tools within itself. However, nothing in the code makes reference to any of the aforementioned programs, so Steam Play could be a service of its own. Either way, it's too soon to tell at this stage.

SteamDB has been tracking the compatibility tool's progress since December 2017. According to the Valve Compatibility Manifests for Beta Testing log, Valve has been working diligently on it. However, the last update was made about two months ago. Without any official word on Steam Play, its future is uncertain. 

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  • Onus
    Excellent. If I can play games on Linux, Windows (and hence all things Microsoft) will be removed from my primary system(s).
  • excalibur1814
    Excellent. While people move to linux I'll stay on Windows as... everything runs perfectly fine.
  • kenjitamura
    It's be kind of nice if Valve did make their own alternative to WINE for use with their platform but I highly doubt they'd be able to so easily surpass the decades long work put into it. Though I'm not sure if anything is preventing them from forking it.

    The one advantage they'd have is that WINE developers insist on making everything from scratch so that games will work well on both Mac and Linux; that's why USB support and such is a complete mess in WINE as they refuse to use Linux or Mac's existing drivers and build their own platform agnostic USB drivers.

    I feel like passthrough technology will be what is needed for playing Windows games on Linux without a noticeable performance hit. There is software that allows virtualized graphics passthrough to play Windows games natively on linux however it still requires most systems to have two graphics cards which isn't realistic if we want people to adopt it.

    That's actually kind of why I'm looking forward to Intel's discrete GPU's. Their SR-IOV implementation, GVT-g, will probably be supported by their new GPU which allows graphics pass through with only one graphics card. You will still need Windows installed, and a Windows license, however most people will never again have to boot into the Windows installation while still getting access to all of Windows gaming titles and played at near identical performance.