Some of Valve’s work behind the scenes on Linux compatibility for native Windows games recently came to light when players discovered updates to Steam Play.
Valve has now officially revealed what all of this is about. Steam Play was introduced in 2010 to allow customers who buy Windows games to able to own them on Mac, and Linux, provided these versions exist.
This feature is now being expanded to also allow Linux users to run native Windows games on their platform, without the need for an official Linux port. Valve had previously worked on integrating Wine, a popular compatibility tool, into Steam.
Today’s Steam Play beta represents the next step in the company’s efforts towards a more streamlined way of playing Windows games on Linux. Valve is calling its modified version of Wine, Proton. This allows games to run directly from the Steam client without the need for external software.
The games support Steamworks, and emulate DirectX 11 and 12 through Vulkan. This not only makes the transition possible, it also comes with performance boosts and better compatibility than Wine typically offers.
Other benefits include improved controller support, improved fullscreen support, and better utilisation of CPUs’ threads in games that have multi-threaded tasks.
Valve is currently testing the entire Steam catalogue for compatibility, and this beta release already includes several big names like Doom 2016, Tekken 7, Nier: Automata, and even VR games like Google Earth VR, and Doom VFR.
Whitelisted games will display a notification to let users know they can run on Linux, and Valve will expand the list as more games are tested. You can check out the full list, and find out how to get involved in testing on Steam.