In 2010, we announced Steam Play: a way for Steam users to access Windows, Mac and Linux versions of Steam games with a single purchase. More than 3000 of the games that have been added to Steam after that point have included Linux support, with more titles being added every day. Since then, we've continued to look for ways to make more titles easily accessible to Linux users.
So, two years ago, we started an effort to improve the quality and performance of Windows compatibility solutions for Steam games. A lot of our work has been in the form of supporting Wine[www.winehq.org] and other existing compatibility projects. We have also been integrating these tools into the Steam client to provide the same simple plug-and-play experience offered by regular Linux games.
Our goal for this work is to let Linux Steam users enjoy easy access to a larger back catalog. We think it will also allow future developers to easily leverage their work from other platforms to target Linux. This would give them the option of focusing on areas that would make a meaningful experience difference for all users instead, such as supporting Vulkan[www.khronos.org].
As a result of this work, today we are releasing the Beta of a new and improved version of Steam Play to all Linux users! It includes a modified distribution of Wine, called Proton, to provide compatibility with Windows game titles. Here are some of the improvements it brings to the table:
Windows games with no Linux version currently available can now be installed and run directly from the Linux Steam client, complete with native Steamworks and OpenVR support.
DirectX 11 and 12 implementations are now based on Vulkan, resulting in improved game compatibility and reduced performance impact.
Fullscreen support has been improved: fullscreen games will be seamlessly stretched to the desired display without interfering with the native monitor resolution or requiring the use of a virtual desktop.
Improved game controller support: games will automatically recognize all controllers supported by Steam. Expect more out-of-the-box controller compatibility than even the original version of the game.
Performance for multi-threaded games has been greatly improved compared to vanilla Wine.