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Valve just announced the upcoming Steam Deck gaming laptop. Pre-orders have gone live with varying degrees of success, but many people would be eager to hear more about Valve’s latest hardware initiative. However, how will the Steam Deck play most games from the Steam library, given that it can’t run Windows? Proton, software, primarily acts as a compatibility layer to allow Linux-based operating systems to run Windows games. Proton and the Steam OS Linux distribution it uses are nothing new. In fact, it’s been around for a while and caused a stir among Linux gamers a few years ago. Outside of Microsoft’s purview, this made PC gaming simpler, and it’s only gotten better since. However, as we will see in a moment, Proton has some drawbacks. It’s crucial to realize that this implies that the Steam Deck will likely be infinitely more successful than the doomed Steam Engines. Since Valve has always taken Linux seriously, the Steam Deck seems like the company’s next big thing.
Run Windows Games on Steam Deck with Steam Proton: Everything You Need to Know
Most people have no idea what Steam Proton is and how difficult it is to run games made for Windows on Steam Deck and Linux in general. The following information will explain a lot, so hopefully you can learn something new.
What is the Steam Bridge?
Valve decided it would stab the console gaming market with the release of the Steam Deck. The hardware performance is quite powerful as it is in line with Xbox One and PlayStation 4. However, the technology is modern, similar to Xbox Series and PlayStation 5.
What is Steam Proton?
To allow Windows games to run on Steam OS, the folks at Valved have developed a compatibility layer known as Steam Proton. It allows the user to download and install Windows games that lack native Linux support. To our knowledge, the Proton tool was developed in collaboration between Valve and the CodeWeavers developers. It contains a modified version of Wine as well as a collection of high performance graphics libraries. Interestingly, the Steam Proton tool is so good that there is almost no performance cost when running Windows games. Many well-known video games that were originally developed for Windows can be played at a fairly enjoyable level.
From what we’ve gathered, the Steam Proton can run many games at 30fps on the Steam Deck. Now, if a game has a Linux version, it is possible to run that title at 60 frames per second. That’s pretty impressive because the Steam Deck is a portable device, so all of this shouldn’t be possible, but we weren’t living in the past anymore. Yet, as of this writing, the Steam Deck, for all its awesomeness, doesn’t support popular multiplayer games like PUBG, Rainbow Six Siege, and Destiny 2.
How does Steam Proton manage to run Windows games on Linux?
We think this would be tricky since Windows games require the use of the DirectX graphics API to work for the most part. The problem is that Microsoft hasn’t included Linux support in DirectX yet, which is the main reason why most games aren’t available on the open-source platform. When developing for Windows, developers use various APIs, but Vulkan is the preferred option at the moment. Now Proton developers have decided to use Wine and DirectX in addition to Vulkan to translate programs from DirectX to Vulkan. This is a good idea as games designed for Windows use DirectX to communicate with the graphics card, and as such Proton tricks games into thinking they are running DirectX when in fact the calls are converted to the Vulkan equivalent . . calls
List of Windows games available on the Steam Deck via Proton
Some people may struggle to find Proton games, but don’t worry because there is a place where gamers can check if their favorite game is compatible. What you need to do here is visit the ProtonDB website and from there click on the Explore tab. Finally, find the Sort section and select ProtonDB Ranking from the drop-down menu. You will now see a list of games compatible or not compatible with Proton on the Steam Deck.
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