Valve is best-known these days for its monstrously popular online storefront Steam, but has also spent much of the last six years quietly developing tools and technology to enhance Linux as an ecosystem for PC gaming, making the open-source operating system a more viable alternative to Windows PCs for some gamers.
One of those initiatives suddenly showed up on Steam in the form of a new beta version of Steam Play for Linux on Tuesday. It comes bundled with a new modified distribution of the Wine compatibility layer which Valve has named Proton. Through Proton, end users of Linux can install and run Windows games directly from their Steam client, with improved performance from the original version of Wine, fullscreen support, and compatibility with Direct3D graphics via a Vulkan-powered implementation called vkd3d.
This marks the continuing evolution of Valve’s attempts to chip away at the Windows OS’s dominance of PC gaming as a platform. Via the new Steam Play, with the Linux-based SteamOS, it means that enthusiast players have a strong, user-friendly alternative to Windows 10. It also means that independent developers in the future may not have to actively try to port their games to Linux any longer, as they’d simply be playable via Proton straight from users’ Steam clients.
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht