Updated: July 25, 2012
There, it happened. A dream has just become a reality. July 16 was one of the best days of this year, when Valve officially launched their Linux blog and announced the effort of porting their Steam engine to Linux. Do you realize what this means? Do you understand the implications of this glorious moment?
It's a victory, for us, for gamers, for Linux users! It's the ultimate sign of recognition that Linux is a viable operating system and a computing platform. Finally, Linux has garnered enough userbase to become relevant, to justify its own development. Soon, we will see games flooding to Linux, and this has been the one factor keeping it back from so many desktops worldwide. Remember my market share prophecy? Done. Oh, I will be using some screenshots from awesome, popular Linux-capable games, but not yet officially in Steam, so there.
More good stuff
At first, Steam client will be made available on Ubuntu. Let's face it, this is the one distro that really made it happen. At the moment, according to the official blog, the development team has already successfully ported Left 4 Dead 2 (L4D2) to the new platform. But they will add more support in the future. For the time being, they are making their baby steps, and we need to support them.
Hopefully, very soon, we will be seeing a fresh new category on the Steam website, just near that Mac logo. In fact, notice the empty tab placeholder in between Recommended and the search box? My guess is, we will see Linux there. Or maybe Ubuntu. Or maybe not. We might see a different kind of design entirely.
And a client like this, running on Linux:
Two years ago, I made a similar statement in my mid-yearly gaming news wrapup, but back then, Valve denied any official involvement. This time around, it's official. Steam is coming to Linux, period.
The snowball effect
The Linux version of the Steam client will trigger a whole chain of events. First, people who had outright dismissed Linux as a gaming platform will now have to reconsider, hard and fast. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars for Windows, they will have a free operating system. And just for the price of a single Window license, they will be able to afford a handful of games.
Second, there ought to be improved development of graphics and audio drivers for Linux, to support the latest games and their features. More vendors may choose to offer pre-installed Linux distributions on their hardware, in hope to grab more of the gaming segment. You already have some great games out there, available for hard cash, like Unigine Oil Rush, Heroes of Newerth, Prey, and many others. Imagine what will happen once this sweet repertoire explodes.
Young people, who are not burdened by the shackles of habit of using one operating system all their lives, will come forth, embrace and learn Linux, and become the new generation who has no problem with the likes of Unity, KDE and other desktops. A second reality of what the desktop should look like will reach its critical mass, and then in its wake, we will see more and more attention to Linux as another potential cash cow. Many new software companies will see this as an opportunity to write their programs for Linux too. Because, let's face it, if games can be ported, then so can other programs. Profit!
I know I will be purchasing games for Linux through Steam the moment the client is made available, and I promise tons of great reviews. While free gaming has its merits, and there are several hundred decent games available, most of which I have reviewed here, professional, high-quality, multi-million development has its strong, undeniable side, and we want to see it happen. On Linux.
Steam will be the critical factor leading to the introduction of a whole new range of expensive software to Linux. This company will be the pioneer of the payware model for the Linux discuss. On the server, all is peachy. In the mobile market, Android rules. So we're left with the desktop, which has mostly lacked games, and thus, not really attracted over to its side, the hundreds of millions of gamers out there. Well, not anymore.
The revolution begins.