How to use old regions with SimCity 4 on Steam + Linux

Updated: June 28, 2021

Not that long ago, SimCity 4 was resurrected. It became alive on Steam, a game you could buy and download and play and enjoy. I recently tried it - but not as you think. I actually installed it in Linux, using the Proton compatibility layer, and things were swell. Which brought about some sweet memories.

I had spent months of my time creating a beautiful mega-region, with 4.5 million people in some 60+ cities. This endeavor took a lot of work, I was using half a dozen mods to make SimCity 4 do some extra wonders for me, and once I was done, I copied my game save into a special backup folder. I didn't want to lose such a precious achievement. That was 2008-ish or so. Now, I had the game on Steam, but how does one go about loading those old region saves?


The My Documents conundrum

Back in the day, SimCity 4 was a blazing modern title that had its own funky built-in screenshot tool, and it saved everything into your My Documents folder. On Steam - and especially on Linux - this meta-folder isn't a reality. Now, if you browse the local game files, you will indeed see the default regions there, and if you copy your old save over ... well, nothing will happen.

Default path


Finding the right paths takes a bit of digging. First, the defaults:

/home/"user"/.steam/steam/steamapps/common/SimCity 4 Deluxe/

This isn't where you want to put you files. This is:

steamuser/My Documents/SimCity 4/

Here, you will see the necessary sub-folders like Albums, Plugins and Regions. For instance:

steamuser/My Documents/SimCity 4/Regions/

Now, you can copy the relevant files, restart the game, and enjoy your old games without any problems.

SimCity 4, region

This suggestion is applicable to all the different games that run through the Steam Play compatibility layer. In general, for any game that uses Proton, you can navigate to:

/home/"user"/.steam/steam/steamapps/compatdata/"GAME NUMBER ID"/pfx/drive_c/

You can then explore this tree like you would any drive C: on Windows. Steam users the "steamuser" account, so this would be where My Documents, My Music and other similar folders are located. Copy and paste any content you like here, and the games should use it.


Here we go, a fairly basic and straightforward tutorial. On the other hands, things aren't really trivial, because the Steam (Proton) version of the game has a virtual drive C: path, and in there, you will find the expected My Documents location. Now you can revive the olden glory of your past escapades in SimCity 4.

As I mentioned in my state of Linux gaming mini-review from a few weeks back, this also applies to mods. You can put the Windows binaries in the Plugins folder, and they should - largely - work. You will be able to enhance the basic game functionality as you feel like. Very cool. So I'm wondering, given how few things I have on my plate, if I should carve out a fresh chunk of my life and commit to yet another months-long session in this awesome game. Well, take care.