Valve Corporation has today rolled out their Steam Mac OS X client to the general public and confirmed something we have been reporting for two years: the Steam content delivery platform and Source Engine are coming to Linux. This news is coming days after we discovered proof in Steam's Mac OS X Client of Linux support and subsequently found more Linux references and even the unreleased Steam Linux client. The day has finally come and Linux gamers around the world have a reason to rejoice, as this is the biggest news for the Linux gaming community that sees very few tier-one titles.
Those enthusiasts within the Phoronix community even managed to get the unreleased Steam Linux client running up to a partially drawn UI and other modifications, but now that work can stop as Valve is preparing to officially release the Steam Linux client from where they will start to offer Linux native games available for sale. For all those doubting our reports that Source/Steam would be coming to Linux, you can find confirmation in the UK's Telegraph and other news sites. An announcement from Valve itself is imminent.
Found already within the Steam store are Linux-native games like Unreal Tournament 2004, World of Goo, and titles from id Software such as Enemy Territory: Quake Wars and Doom 3. Now that the Source Engine is officially supported on Linux, some Source-based games will be coming over too. Will we finally see Unreal Tournament 3 surface on Linux too? Only time will tell, but it is something we speculated back in 2008. Postal III is also being released this year atop the Source Engine and it will be offering up a native client. We have confirmed that Valve's latest and popular titles like Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike: Source, and Team Fortress 2 are among the first of the Steam Linux titles, similar to the Mac OS X support. The released Linux client should be available by the end of summer.
Similar to Valve's strategy with Mac OS X, it's expected that they too will be providing Linux game releases on the same day as Windows / Mac OS X for their new titles and that there will be first-rate support across all platforms. Portal II should mark the first of these efforts.
This is terrific news considering the last major tier-one game release with a native Linux client was Enemy Territory: Quake Wars back in 2007. There was also supposed to be Unreal Tournament 3 for Linux with claims of it still being worked on, but two years later that has yet to see the light of day, except now it could with the release of the Steam middleware. In the past few years there has just been less-known game releases like Shadowgrounds: Survivor via Linux Game Publishing (LGP) and then the community-spawned open-source games like Alien Arena 2009, Nexuiz, and Sauerbraten, but what Valve has just done should prove to forever revolutionize the Linux gaming scene.
Our friends at Unigine Corp though will now face greater competition in the area of developing the best game engine that is supported on Linux. The Unigine developer is quite visually advanced (and at the same time, very demanding on the hardware) while their developers are quite friendly towards Linux, but to this point besides a couple of great OpenGL benchmarks (found in the Phoronix Test Suite), they have yet to really touch any Linux gamers -- but that will change once Primal Carnage and other titles are released.
We are so grateful that Valve has finally publicly confirmed via the Telegraph (and another pending announcement is likely) that they are bringing Steam and the Source Engine to Linux as this should provide a huge opportunity for the Linux distributions and other Linux stakeholders to prove their viability against Windows and can begin attracting gamers if successfully leveraged. We have already shown that in terms of OpenGL performance, Ubuntu 10.04 is on par with Windows 7 for ATI/AMD and NVIDIA graphics and that Linux is a faster gaming platform to Mac OS X.
Stay tuned for plenty more coverage. Of the six years that Phoronix has been around providing many exclusive news stories and Linux hardware/software coverage, Valve's move with the Steam Linux client / Source engine will likely prove to be the most significant event and opportunity that the Linux desktop has been provided at least since the time of the initial Linux netbook push, if not since the entire time we've been around. Only time will tell though if Linux vendors and stakeholders will fully capitalize upon the opportunity that has the potential of greatly expanding the Linux desktop user-base.
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