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Milestones of Linux as a Gaming Platform

A lot of things have improved since Valve released Steam for Linux in 2013.

Linux was developed by Linus Benedict Torvalds in 1991 when he was still a student at the University of Helsinki. It was just a hobby at first and he never intended it for large-scale use. Today, you’ll find Linux on servers and on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones (Android is based on Linux). Governments, universities, and businesses are also now using Linux.

However, Linux is still not that popular when it comes to gaming even if its use for gaming dates way back in the 1990’s. A lot of things have improved since Valve released Steam for Linux in 2013 but the problem is few talks about the current and true state of Linux as a gaming platform. Online publications that are focused or writes articles about PC gaming do not mention milestones of Linux as a gaming platform.

Related Readings:
Newbie Friendly Guide to Using Linux for Gaming
Playing Windows Games on Linux the Easy Way

Try searching “F1 2017 Vulkan” and “Mad Max Vulkan” in Google and you won’t find anything from popular online publications such as Eurogamer, Tech Power Up, Tech Report, PC Gamer, and Tech Spot. And when someone popular talks about Linux gaming, information is usually misleading. There are still many naysayers spreading false information such as Linux is not suitable for gaming. The milestones of Linux as a gaming platform proves otherwise. This will be an on-going work and will be updated as more information becomes available. If we forgot something or if you have any questions, kindly let us know in the comments section.

NOTE: For quicker browsing of the milestones, press “Ctrl + f” then type the year you’re interested in.

2013

February 14, 2013 – Valve released Steam for Linux. The release was accompanied by big discounts on all Linux games such as Team Fortress 2, Crusader Kings II, Bastion, and Serious Sam 3: BFE. Team Fortress 2 has more than 40,000 players per day since January 1, 2013 and currently belongs to the Top 10 Most Played games on Steam.

July 2, 2013 – Left 4 Dead 2 was officially released for Linux. It has more than 10,000 players per day since January 1, 2013.

July 18, 2013DOTA 2 was released on Linux 9 days after its release on Windows. It has more than 150,000 players per day since January 1, 2013 and currently belongs to the Top 10 Most Played games on Steam.

November 4, 2013Metro: Last Light was released on Linux in less than 6 months after its release on Windows.

December 13, 2013 – Valve released SteamOS 1.0 beta.

2014

June 11, 2014 – Aspyr Media, a Mac game developer founded in 1996, released their 1st Linux game, Civilization V.

June 19, 2014 – Feral Interactive, a Mac game developer founded in 1996, released their 1st Linux game, XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

August 19, 2014GOG started supporting Linux.

September 30, 2014Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was released on Linux. It has more than 50,000 players per day since January 1, 2014 and currently belongs to the Top 10 Most Played games on Steam.

2015

January 27, 2015Dying Light was released simultaneously on Linux and Windows.

March 10, 2015Cities: Skylines was released simultaneously on Linux and Windows. It has more than 5,000 players per day since January 1, 2016.

April 9, 2015 – Valve started giving all their games for free to developers of Mesa (open source driver).

July 30, 2015 – Feral Interactive released Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor on Linux.

September 1, 2015 – The Linux beta of Arma 3 was released by Virtual Programming. The game has more than 20,000 players per day since January 1, 2015.

December 10, 2015 – Feral Interactive released GRID Autosport on Linux.

2016

February 16, 2016Khronos Group released the v1.0 specifications of Vulkan, a royalty-free open standard API.

February 20, 2016The Talos Principle became the 1st game to support Vulkan on Linux.

March 22, 2016PAYDAY 2 was released on Linux. It has more than 30,000 players per day since August 1, 2017.

April 22, 2016 – NVIDIA released a GeForce Linux driver with Vulkan support.

June 29, 2016Radeon RX 480 was released with support for Mesa.

August 26, 2016RADV, an open-source Radeon Vulkan driver developed by David Airlie and Bas Nieuwenhuizen, was able to render DOTA 2 correctly.

August 30, 2016 – Phoronix tested RADV and found it to be slightly slower than AMD’s proprietary Vulkan driver when running DOTA 2 at 1080p. RADV was slower than AMD’s proprietary Vulkan driver by more than 40% at 4K resolution.

September 8, 2016Rocket League was released on Linux. It has more than 40,000 players per day since July 1, 2016.

November 3, 2016Deus Ex: Mankind Divided became the 1st game of Square Enix that was released on Linux in less than 3 months after its release on Windows. The Linux port was developed by Feral Interactive.

December 8, 2016 – AMD released AMDGPU-PRO 16.50 (proprietary driver) with support for Free Sync on Linux.

2017

February 16, 2017 – Feral Interactive released HITMAN on Linux. It’s the 1st game in the Hitman game franchise to become available on Linux.

March 2, 2017 – Feral Interactive released DiRT Rally on Linux. It’s the 1st rally racing game on Linux.

March 9, 2017GeForce GTX 1080 Ti was released with working drivers on Linux.

March 30, 2017 – Feral Interactive updated Mad Max to support Vulkan on Linux.

March 31, 2017 – Unity 5.6 was released with full Vulkan support on Linux and Windows.

April 11, 2017Unigine Superposition was released on Linux and Windows.

May 17, 2017 – Ballistic Overkill was updated to support Vulkan on Linux.

May 24, 2017 – Unreal Engine 4.16 was released with improved Vulkan support on Linux.

June 3, 2017Dolphin, an emulator for Nintendo GameCube and Nintendo Wii, dropped Direct3D 12 in favor of Vulkan.

June 6, 2017SteamOS 2.117 was released. AMDGPU-PRO was dropped in favor of Mesa.

June 8, 2017 – Feral Interactive released Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III on Linux in less than 2 months after its release on Windows. Vulkan is supported on its Linux release day.

June 23, 2017 – Croteam updated Serious Sam 3: BFE to support Vulkan on Linux and Windows.

July 3, 2017RPCS3, an emulator for Sony PlayStation 3, adds Vulkan support on Linux.

August 14, 2017Radeon RX Vega 64 and Radeon RX Vega 56 were released with support for Mesa.

September 19, 2017 – The experimental Linux port of Arma 3 was updated with 64-bit game executable.

October 17, 2017 – Croteam updated The Talos Principle to support VR (Virtual Reality) on Linux and Windows.

November 2, 2017 – Feral Interactive released their 20th Linux game, F1 2017. It is the 1st game on Linux released without support for OpenGL and only uses Vulkan.

November 4, 2017 – Phoronix tested RADV and found it to be slightly faster than AMD’s proprietary Vulkan driver when running F1 2017 at 1080p. RADV was slower than AMD’s proprietary Vulkan driver by about 10% only at 4K resolution.

November 9, 2017 – Croteam updated Serious Sam 3: BFE to support VR on Linux and Windows.

November 14, 2017 – The experimental Linux version of Arma 3 was updated to have multiplayer compatibility with the Windows version.

December 22, 2017 – AMD released their open-source Vulkan driver for Linux which is also known as AMDVLK.

2018

January 26, 2018 – Helium Rain was updated to support Vulkan on Linux.

March 7, 2018 – Khronos Group released the Vulkan v1.1 specifications to expand Vulkan’s core functionality with features requested by developers.

April 17, 2018 – RUINER, an indie game using Unreal Engine 4, gets an official Linux version release on Steam. The Linux release on GOG followed a day after.

April 19, 2018 – Feral Interactive released Rise of the Tomb Raider on Linux. It’s their 2nd game on Linux released without support for OpenGL and only uses Vulkan.

May 9, 2018 – EVERSPACE, an indie game using Unreal Engine 4, gets an official Linux version release on Steam.

May 26, 2018PPSSPP, an emulator for Sony PSP, adds Vulkan support on Linux.

May 31, 2018 – Overload, a 6DoF (6 Degrees of Freedom) game, was released simultaneously on Linux and Windows.

June 7, 2018 – Feral Interactive released Total War Saga: THRONES OF BRITANNIA on Linux. It’s their 3rd game on Linux released without support for OpenGL and only uses Vulkan.

June 14, 2018 – The unofficial Vulkan support of War Thunder showed a 150% increase in performance compared to OpenGL.

August 21, 2018 – Valve updated the Linux Steam client to include Proton, a modified version of Wine. It enabled Windows games to be run directly from the Linux Steam client. Some of the notable games to officially support Proton are Doom (2016), NieR: Automata, and Tekken 7.

September 19, 2018GeForce RTX 2080 Ti was released with working drivers on Linux.

September 21, 2018LowSpecGamer promoted Linux gaming because of the new version of Steam Play.

September 22, 2018 – Linus Sebastian of Linus Tech Tips promoted Linux gaming because of the new version of Steam Play.

November 7, 2018 – Unreal Engine 4.21 uses Vulkan API by default.

November 13, 2018 – Valve included Dark Souls III in the whitelist for Steam Play.

November 20, 2018 – Feral Interactive released Total War: WARHAMMER II on Linux. It’s their 4th game on Linux released without support for OpenGL and only uses Vulkan.

2019

January 8, 2019GeForce RTX 2060 was released with working drivers on Linux.

February 7, 2019Radeon VII was released with Day 1 driver support on Linux.

February 8, 2019Craft Computing revisited gaming on Linux. Due to the new version of Steam Play, they now recommend Linux for PC gamers.

February 25, 2019GeForce GTX 1660 Ti was released with working drivers on Linux.

March 1, 2019 – Steel Rats was released on Linux. It is the 1st game using Unreal Engine 4 that supports Vulkan on Linux.

March 28, 2019 – Feral Interactive released DiRT 4 on Linux. It’s their 5th game on Linux released without support for OpenGL and only uses Vulkan.

April 19, 2019 – Linus Tech Tips believes Linux is the future of PC gaming.

April 26, 2019GeForce GTX 1650 was released with working drivers on Linux.

May 23, 2019 – Feral Interactive released Total War: THREE KINGDOMS on Linux. It’s their 6th game on Linux released without support for OpenGL and only uses Vulkan.

August 11, 2019 – Misou Games, a Philippine game developer, released the Linux version of Towertale.

August 22, 2019 – After a year, Steam Play has 6,000 Windows games playable on Linux.

October 12, 2019 – Project RIP, an indie game using Unreal Engine 4, was released on Linux and supports both OpenGL and Vulkan.

November 5, 2019 – Feral Interactive released Shadow of the Tomb Raider on Linux. It’s their 7th game on Linux released without support for OpenGL and only uses Vulkan.

November 8, 2019 – The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters, a Korean survival horror game, was released into Steam Early Access with support for Linux.

December 17, 2019 – Feral Interactive released Life is Strange 2 on Linux.

2020

February 5, 2020MangoHUD had its first public release on GitHub. It is a performance on-screen display that has the capability to log data on frame rate, GPU usage, and CPU usage.

February 8, 2020Proton, the core technology behind Steam Play, was updated to version 5.0-1. One of the major changes is old Windows games such as Dead Space will now use DirectX9-to-Vulkan conversion by default on Linux.

March 14, 2020MangoHUD v0.3.0 was released. The biggest change is it now works with OpenGL and Vulkan.

April 20, 2020 – Subset Games, the developer of the highly successful FTL: Faster Than Light, has updated Into The Breach to support Linux.

May 2, 2020Proton, the core technology behind Steam Play, was updated to version 5.0-7. It enabled Street of Fighter V and Streets of Rage 4 to be playable on Linux.

May 16, 2020Half-Life: Alyx, Valve’s first and top-rated VR game, was updated to support Linux and Vulkan.

September 20, 2020GeForce RTX 3080 was released with working drivers on Linux.

November 13, 2020Streets of Rage 4 Linux version was released on Steam. It was ported to Linux by Ethan Lee who also ported Bastion, Pyre, and Transistor to Linux.

December 1, 2020GeForce RTX 3060 Ti was released with working drivers on Linux.

December 18, 2020Wasteland 3 was released on Linux 3.5 months after the release on Windows.

2021

February 25, 2021GeForce RTX 3060 was released with working drivers on Linux.

Written By

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

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. TechInformation

    January 18, 2018 at 11:30 pm

    Worlds best fan right here

  2. GamersOnLinux

    January 19, 2018 at 1:17 am

    Very nice Timeline! Thank you for supporting Linux and doing the research. We are slowly coming along.

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