Microsoft’s Windows dominates the home user computer market share, and there are several reasons for this. One of the most prominent is gaming, and for most of the history of PC gaming, the majority of titles only worked on Windows. But this has begun to change as the Linux operating system and its associated distributions have become more popular, and more developers are not just porting their games to Linux, but creating their games with Linux in mind.
Things aren’t quite perfect just yet, and this is mainly due to some driver issues with Nvidia and Windows compatibility problems. But gaming on Linux is now easier than ever before, so let’s see what it takes and whether it’s worth the effort.
First, Native Gaming
There’s no arguing that the majority of game titles were primarily designed for Windows, but there are plenty of other games that are Linux natives. This is great for casual gamers who just want to play something light every now and again, but gamers can also expect a fair amount of choice in terms of native Linux titles. Make sure to take a look through Steam’s library – there’s an entire category devoted to games that run natively on Linux, mostly without having to worry too much about having third-party software installed, like Wine.
Despite the fact that AMD has made some serious headway in the market in recent years, Nvidia remains the more popular choice among gamers, and the complexity of modern graphics cards means that they require special drivers and software to function correctly. This is fine for Windows, which Nvidia provides official support, but more of an issue for those using a Linux-based system. This is why Nvidia users will need to make sure that they have the right drivers for their system.
This is where the gamer might have to do a bit of digging into their system and determine which proprietary Nvidia drivers are needed for games to work properly. Fortunately, most of the well-known distros, including Linux Mint and Pop! _OS, have made it extremely easy to set up Nvidia drivers with just a few clicks. It might be much more difficult to achieve the same outcome on more complex distro setups, like Arch Linux.
Steam is the first platform that most people will want to turn to in order to find new games to play, but it’s not the only one. Good Old Games, or gog.com, is another excellent option, and offers players a great choice of classic titles. Check out some browser-based games, too, and there’s nothing wrong with a few rounds of mobile pokies.
If the game in question does not work natively on Linux, the next best option is by using a program called Wine. Wine emulates a Windows environment on a Linux machine, which means that Windows-only software can run. It works extremely well for some software, but not so well for others, so the performance and compatibility might vary from person to person.