In the past nearly nine years of running Phoronix, every year seems to get better in terms of advancements for Linux gaming. There's been setbacks along the way like the Epic Games mess, id Software losing faith in Linux, and the fall of Linux Game Publishing, but every year seems to generally be better than the last.
While 2013 hasn't even yet begun, there's already so many exciting milestones that should materialize in the next calendar year:
- Valve's Linux efforts continuing to expand. Earlier this month Valve's Linux Beta finally went open to everyone so anyone with a Steam account can now access the Linux titles via the native Steam Linux client. However, this is only the beginning. In 2013 we will see Valve Software bring their other popular titles to Linux like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Half-Life 2, etc. We'll also see other advancements to the Steam Linux client and Source Engine. It's also not a pipe-dream to think that for future Valve games (Half-Life 3?) that there will be same-day (or near same-day) Linux support and that their new game engine is being designed with Linux in mind. We'll also see more Steam publishers/partners bringing their games to Linux (one of the many examples is Dear Esther coming to Linux).
- While related to the previous point, but significant on its own, is Valve's next-gen Linux console. This Linux-based console for the living room that's designed around Steam is going to be huge. This is one of the most exciting milestones to look forward to for Linux as a whole in 2013. Like earlier Phoronix Valve exclusives, you can believe it now or wait and be surprised later, but this is the most exciting piece of Linux hardware that we should see in 2013. It's exciting on so many different levels as you'll see and is a huge growth opportunity for Linux.
- This month the first Unreal Engine 3 game shipped on Linux. In 2013 it's quite likely we will see more games native to Linux that are powered by Epic Games' Unreal Engine 3. Whether or not we see Unreal Tournament 3 though is unknown, but I wouldn't hold my breath on that title.
- More high-quality game engines continue to be ported to Linux like Unity 4, potentially Torque 3D, and an assortment of others.
- The Humble Indie Bundles continue to generate millions of dollars each round. There's no sign of the Humble Bundles slowing down anytime soon.
- Various game studios like Egosoft and THQ are now looking at bringing their games to Linux as a domino effect of Valve's Linux activities. Overhaul Games is also bringing Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition to Linux, which should more than likely see the light of day in 2013.
- Electronic Arts still is working on a Linux strategy. EA's Linux strategy has been really boring and according to my sources there nothing imminent is about to drop as they feel handicapped by upper-management at the company.
- Open-source games like Unvanquished, 0 A.D., and Xonotic are continuing to progress and show promise for being high-quality free software titles.
- The OUYA is beginning to ship as a low-priced Android-based gaming console.
- A possible Blizzard Linux play -- don't be surprised if you hear more news soon.
- Various Kickstarter-backed games are seeing Linux clients (well, promised at least) such as Wasteland 2.
- At a lower-level, we're seeing more progress to improve Linux that is very much needed if Linux is to be pushed as a viable gaming platform on the desktop. There's work on improving full-screen window support, many open-source driver improvements, NVIDIA/AMD driver improvements as a direct result of Valve on Linux, window manager improvements, continued work on PulseAudio, and other pieces of the Linux desktop puzzle being fitted.
These are just all of the exciting Linux gaming strides to look forward to in the near future that immediately came to mind. There's also other yet to be announced Linux gaming milestones to be announced into 2013 -- next week already I'm going to be visiting another L.A. game studio due to their unpublicized Linux interest (it's a major studio, but not the one I go surfing with in that area, for those that keep up to date on hints via Twitter and earlier Phoronix news postings).
2013 is just looking really fantastic for Linux gaming. The marked progress in the area of Linux hardware support and commercial gaming is part of the reason I feel it's getting time to step aside and focus on other Linux opportunities. There's a lot to be happy about, but there's also a few shortcomings and limitations to gaming on Linux that must be overcome, which will be shared in another Phoronix article on Sunday.