In April, game maker and online retailer Valve promised it wasn’t over with his Steam machine PC gaming platform, determined to create Microsoft’s alternative to Windows. Now Valve has found a shortcut: emulate Windows games.
Smart Reddit users discovered in the Steam Client GUI files, via a “Steam Tracker” via the GitHub open source codebase, references to an unannounced “Steam Play” system primarily to emulate games that were not designed for Valve’s Linux-based SteamOS operating system (OS), ArsTechnica Reports.
“Steam Play will automatically install compatibility tools that will allow you to play games in your library that have been designed for other operating systems,” the text uncovered read.
While you can certainly play games on a Mac, there really is only one other operating system for playing PC games, and that is Windows – specifically. Windows 10.
The uncovered text then suggests that this Steam Play feature will offer both official and unofficial compatibility thanks to the tools it provides, which is believed to be based on the Wine emulator, which allows Windows applications to run. run on linux.
To play Steam games in your library that are not officially compatible with SteamOS, you can always try it out yourself with existing tools, but Valve cautions against using it which can cause crashes and lost save files. .
If you can’t beat them, join them … somehow?
This decision to essentially emulate Windows games both officially and unofficially would certainly bring better parity between the game libraries available on SteamOS and Windows, although it is rather subversive.
Prior to this discovery, Valve seemed determined to inspire PC game developers to use the Khronos Group’s open-source Vulkan GUI application programming interface, rather than the Windows-exclusive DirectX tools that all dominate the industry. This would eventually make more PC games compatible with Linux, especially SteamOS.
Well, it’s clearly taking too long, so Valve seems to be trying a shortcut. However, shortcuts almost always have their pitfalls. Here is that the emulation always requires a certain amount of additional processing power to drive the emulated environment in which the application is running.
This in turn might require more powerful, and therefore more expensive, hardware to run emulated games on a Steam Machine in order to achieve a similar experience to playing on a Windows PC. This would go against Valve’s original position that steam engines are generally cheaper to buy and own than Windows PCs, due to the free operating system.
A faster pickup from Vulkan might help mitigate that, but it probably won’t be quick enough for Valve’s ambitions.
Of course, there is no indication by this leak that Valve intends to publicly release Steam Play or when it will for that matter. We could wait months – even years – to see Valve’s emulation solution come to SteamOS.
But, given Valve’s current stance on “the push towards a competitive and open gaming platform,” as said in April, and the high-profile resentment of Valve founder and CEO Gabe Newell, with regard to Windows as it serves gamers on PC, we cannot be so far off.
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