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The Impact of Valve’s Proton on Linux Gaming

Valve's release of Proton, as part of their rebranding of Steam Play, has revolutionized Linux gaming. Prior to Proton, the Linux gaming scene was stagnant, lacking support and compatibility for popular games. The Steam Machine, Valve's previous attempt to boost Linux gaming, did not live up to expectations. But with Proton, Valve aimed to make Linux a viable gaming platform.

Initially, Steam Play allowed users to access all versions of a game when purchased on Steam. However, Valve knew they needed more to truly improve the Linux gaming experience. They partnered with CodeWeavers and created Proton, a custom fork of Wine with additional features. This collaboration has had a significant impact on Linux gaming.

Proton's introduction has brought about a profound change in the availability of games on Linux. Valve's funding of projects like DXVK and VKD3D-Proton has improved performance and compatibility, allowing popular games to run seamlessly on Linux. The introduction of Proton has also paved the way for the release of the Steam Deck, as Valve prioritized game compatibility to avoid the mistakes made with the Steam Machines.

The expansion of Proton has been impressive. From a limited selection of Valve-approved titles, Proton now enables users to run nearly any game of their choice. The number of games reported to work on Proton is over 11,000 on the crowd-sourced platform ProtonDB. Valve's Deck Verified rating system for the Steam Deck has also reached significant milestones, with over 10,000 titles rated as Playable or Verified. This means that Linux gamers can now enjoy a vast selection of games that “just work” on the platform.

While the exact number of games playable on Linux is difficult to determine, considering the vast library available on Steam, the compatibility provided by Proton is impressive. With less than a 2% user share on Steam, Linux gamers have access to an extensive range of compatible games.

Proton has opened up opportunities for Linux gamers to discover and enjoy new favorite games. The improved compatibility has allowed users to play titles like Deep Rock Galactic, God of War, Death Stranding, Baldur's Gate 3, and Beat Saber, among others. The availability of such a diverse selection of games has made choosing what to play a delightful challenge.

Linux gamers, whether on desktop or the Steam Deck, can now anticipate new game releases with excitement, knowing that there is a high probability of compatibility. However, Proton is not flawless, and Valve and its partners continually work on addressing compatibility issues. They strive to keep up with changes in Microsoft's compatibility measures and the various ways game developers utilize APIs.

Thanks to Valve's Proton, Linux gaming has come a long way. It has revitalized the Linux gaming scene, providing gamers with a vast library of compatible titles and transforming Linux into a respected gaming platform.

– Proton: Valve's fork of Wine with additional features, enabling compatibility between Windows games and Linux.
– ProtonDB: A crowd-sourced platform where users report on the compatibility of games with Proton.
– Steam Deck: Valve's handheld gaming device that runs Linux and relies on Proton for game compatibility.
– Wine: A compatibility layer that allows Windows applications to run on Linux.

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