Valve today announced a beta version of Steam play, a new compatibility layer for Linux, to ensure compatibility with a wide range of Windows-only games.
We’ve been following Valve’s efforts to boost Linux games for a number of years. A few months ago, things seemed to be very calm, with Valve removing SteamOS systems from its store. Last week, however, it became clear that something was brewing for Linux gaming.
Today’s announcement explains in detail what the company has developed. At its heart is a customized and modified version of the Windows-on-Linux WINE Compatibility Layer called Proton. Compatibility with Direct3D graphics is provided by vkd3d, an implementation of Direct3D 12 that uses Vulkan for high performance, and DXVK, a Vulkan implementation of Direct3D 11.
To enhance the wider gaming experience, Valve says the full-screen graphics, multithreading, and gamepad support have all gotten attention.
Once Steam Play is released from beta, Windows game developers will be able to mark their games as compatible with Steam Play and, therefore, will be offered for sale to Linux users. Valve has already tested and validated more than two dozen traditional and VR games, including Loss (the original flavors, 2016 and 2017-in-VR), NieR: Automata, and earthquake. While support for other games is under development (which users can vote for here), Steam Play testers can activate a replacement Switch to test any games that Valve has not yet whitelisted internally.