Steam adds Proton, making Windows games playable on Linux (at least in theory)

Last week we wrote about Valve potentially Support for folding a WINE-style compatibility wrapper into Steam, allowing Linux machines to play Windows games with minimal hassle. It is now a reality. Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais made the announcement on the “Steam for Linux” group today.

The forum post is long and very detailed, and if you are personally invested in Linux games, it is probably worth a read. Here’s the highlight though, straight from Griffais:

“Today we are releasing the beta of a new and improved version of Steam Play for all Linux users! It includes a modified distribution of Wine, called Proton, to ensure compatibility with Windows game titles.

So not just a WINE-style compatibility wrapper, but a fork of WINE itself. You can find it on GitHub, and as I theorized last week, it’s a games-focused wrapper in particular. Valve claims it’s based on Vulkan and offers improved fullscreen support, controller support, and better performance in multi-threaded games.

It’s a work in progress though. Griffais writes: “This goes hand in hand with an effort of continuous testing of the entire Steam catalog, in order to identify which games are currently performing very well in this compatibility environment, and to find and resolve issues for those who do. don’t. “

The list of titles currently supported is short, but includes notable titles like the 2016 Loss, Google Earth VR, Tekken 7, mount and blade, NieR: Automata (which doesn’t even work very well natively on Windows), and Into the breach. Then there are a bunch of miscellaneous titles, like those from 2005 Star Wars: Battlefront 2 and Tropic 4, alias not even the last one Tropic.

Those who want to get out of Valve’s carefully marked sandbox can flip a priority switch and theoretically run any game with Proton, though, as last week’s code dive noted: that ” may not work as expected and may cause issues with your games including crashes and broken saves. I’m not sure if this error message appears in the current version of Steam Linux, but hope it is is the case.

Either way, it’s (in theory at least) a huge step forward for Linux games. WINE has always been a bit heavy to use, so integrating it directly into Steam – and with Valve actively confirming that the games will work – should remove some of these barriers. In the absence of Linux ports, Proton seems like the next best thing.

Sadly, Mac gamers are left behind. Excerpt from the FAQ: “Although Wine and Proton run on macOS, there are no plans to support the new Steam Play feature on macOS at this time. “Cross your fingers, I guess.

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