Opinion & Editorials

The Misconstrued Truth About Linux Gaming

I started playing games on Linux in January 2016 and it has been more than 6 months now since I deleted my Windows 10 partition. Playing PC games exclusively on Linux is not as bad as what online publications and YouTube channels would tell. Sure, I had some minor issues during the transition but, for the most part, I enjoy playing PC games on Ubuntu MATE which is my favorite Linux distribution. My overall gaming experience on Ubuntu MATE is great and I’m looking forward to playing and benchmarking Rise of the Tomb Raider using Vulkan. I’m really curious why very few gamers are aware that there is a viable alternative to Windows when it comes to playing PC games so, I checked some of the popular online publications and searched for Linux gaming articles.

Editor’s Notes: This is an independent opinion piece and does not reflect the opinions and/or position of Back2Gaming as an organization.

AnandTech used to publish Linux gaming articles

AnandTech was one of the review sites I used to regularly visit when I started on being a PC enthusiast so, I checked them first. I searched their articles tagged with Linux and was surprised to find out that they used to publish Linux gaming articles and benchmarks. Kristopher Kubicki was one of their writers that published many articles on Linux and he even experimented on installing SUSE 9.1 on an XBOX. I’m not sure what happened but it seems he stopped writing Linux articles in 2004. Ryan Smith, the new Editor-in-Chief that succeeded Anand Lal Shimpi in 2014, also wrote a few articles on Linux prior to 2010. The noteworthy of those is his review of Ubuntu 8.04. I wonder why AnandTech stopped publishing Linux gaming articles and benchmarks when we are in a time that Linux has improved a lot on gaming. I searched “Vulkan” and articles tagged with Vulkan but only found benchmarks of DOOM and The Talos Principle. Is AnandTech really not aware that F1 2017, Dawn of War III, Mad Max, and Serious Sam 3: BFE are games that support Vulkan?

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One of the famous game performance comparisons between SteamOS/Linux and Windows

Ars Technica published an article in November 2015 wherein they compared gaming performance between SteamOS 2.0 and Windows 10. In that article, Linux had been shown to be 21 – 58% slower than Windows in a variety of games. They did state that testing six games on a single hardware set up is far from comprehensive and Vulkan could change the performance gap. However, as of March 2018, Ars Technica has not made any follow up article to show the recent improvements on Linux gaming. I searched “Vulkan” and only found their 2016 article on The Talos Principle. Is Ars Technica really not aware that F1 2017, Dawn of War III, Mad Max, and Serious Sam 3: BFE are games that support Vulkan?

PC Gamer claims to be the global authority on PC games so, I searched their site for Linux gaming articles and benchmarks. I tried to search “Vulkan” but only found a 2016 article wherein they did a Vulkan vs. OpenGL performance comparison on Doom. For an online publication that claims to be the global authority on PC games, not having Vulkan benchmarks of F1 2017, Dawn of War III, Mad Max, and Serious Sam 3: BFE is kind of weird. The only recent article they have that is somehow related to Linux gaming is What happened to Steam Machines? which was published on July 7, 2017. It’s more focused on Steam Machines but, near the end of the article, it asked why use SteamOS / Linux if few games support it. “Few games on Linux” is one of the most popular misconceptions about Linux gaming. What most people forget to consider is Steam was released in 2003 and only started supporting Linux in 2013. It means 10 years passed wherein all games being released on Steam are games that support Windows but not Linux.

Even YouTubers have not escaped the trend of not being updated with the latest information about Linux gaming. Shown below are some of YouTube channels who covered SteamOS about 2 – 3 years ago but never made a follow up on the recent improvements on Linux gaming.

Machinima

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYUA7r3AyJs

There are many online publications and YouTube channels and we cannot cover them all but we have shown you a glimpse as to why very few gamers are aware that there is a viable alternative to Windows when it comes to playing PC games. Linux gaming still has room for improvement but it is definitely much better now compared 3 – 5 years ago.

Milestones of Linux as a gaming platform.

To be fair with our readers and other online publications, listed below are the Linux articles wherein we mentioned both the good stuff and bad stuff about Linux gaming. If you are interested to see all our Linux gaming articles, click this. We also have a YouTube play list for all our Linux game play videos.

Back2Gaming’s Linux Gaming Benchmarks

Playing Games on Linux
Can a Gamer Use Linux and Still Enjoy PC Gaming – Part 1
Motherboard Linux Compatibility List

Can a Gamer Use Linux and Still Enjoy PC Gaming – Part 2
The Hidden Truth About PC Gaming
Radeon Mesa Game Compatibility List
Game Developers That Support Cross-Platform PC Gaming
An Interview with Croteam

Back2Gaming is open to replies. If representatives of the online publications and YouTube channels mentioned in our article wish to respond, we will update our article and publish the response. Kindly comment or email me directly.


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Pinoy Linux Gamer

I'm a PC gamer and Ubuntu MATE is my recommended OS for gaming.

3 Comments

  1. Games released before 2013 not supporting Linux would IMO be forgivable by most people, but the majority of new games do not support Linux. While most are indeed shovelware, they’re still numbers to look at. There is actually a lower percentage of Linux games on Steam now than there was a few years ago. We used to have over 25% Linux games, now we have 21% (4268/20377).

    And if your argument is “quality over quantity”, many would argue that we don’t have the “quality” games (AAA) even though we have the majority of the top-rated Steam games. As a side note, the highest rated non-Linux game is The Witcher 3, ironically a game from a company that Linux users suck up to like crazy for some reason despite them not caring about Linux at all.

    Linux users sucking up to CDPR and buying their games and using GOG anyway is exactly why they don’t care. I personally do not care about CDPR or GOG at all, they aren’t even the best Steam competitor. Itch supports Linux with their client, their client is open-source, their client is the only one that securely sandboxes games, and they’re an open platform where anyone can publish.

  2. That was a terrible article. So they say that those articles got it all wrong but refuse to provide evidence proving so.

    1. Hi Matthew,

      Kindly read the article again. I never said they were wrong. The question is why haven’t they updated their information.

      Regards,

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