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Steam adds Proton, making Windows games playable on Linux

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22 August 2018

Rumours of Valve potentially folding support for a Wine-style compatibility wrapper into Steam, allowing Linux machines to play Windows games have proven accurate. Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais made the announcement on the Steam for Linux forum.“Today we are releasing the Beta of a new and improved version of Steam Play to all Linux users! It includes a modified distribution of Wine, called Proton, to provide compatibility with Windows game titles,” wrote Griffais.So not just a Wine-style compatibility wrapper, but a fork of Wine itself. Valve claims it’s based on Vulkan, and touts improved full-screen support, controller support, and better performance in multi-threaded games.

It’s a work in progress though. Writes Griffais: “This goes hand-in-hand with an ongoing testing effort of the entire Steam catalog, in order to identify games that currently work great in this compatibility environment, and find and address issues for the ones that don’t.”

The list of currently-supported titles is short, but includes some noteworthy standouts like the 2016 Doom, Google Earth VR, Tekken 7, Mount & Blade, NieR: Automata, and Into the Breach.

Those who want to break out of Valve’s carefully marked sandbox can flip an override switch and theoretically run any game with Proton, this may not work as expected, and can cause issues with your games, including crashes and breaking save games.

Regardless, this is a huge step forward for Linux gaming. Wine has always been cumbersome to use, so having it built right into Steam – and with Valve actively confirming games will work – should remove some of those barriers. In the absence of Linux ports, Proton sounds like the next best thing.

Alas, Mac gamers are being left out in the cold. From the FAQ: “While Wine and Proton work on macOS, there are no plans to support the new Steam Play functionality on macOS at the moment.”

IDG News Service

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