Valve is working to bring more games to Linux users by rolling out a new beta version of Steam Play, which includes a modified version of Wine, called Proton, to provide compatibility with Windows game titles, the company announced. This essentially allows Linux users to run native Windows games without a Linux port or major hoops to jump through.
"This goes hand-in-hand with an ongoing testing effort of the entire Steam catalog, in order to identify games that currently work great in this compatibility environment, and find and address issues for the ones that don't," Valve said.
For anyone who is not familiar, Wine is an ope-source compatibility project for running Windows applications in Linux. Valve has worked to support Wine and other existing compatibility projects in an effort to expand the compatibility of games on its popular Steam platform. Some of those tools have been integrated into the Steam client for a plug-and-play experience.
Proton is Valve's latest effort. To move things along, Valve says DirectX 11 and 12 implementations are based on the Vulkan API, resulting in improved game compatibility and better performance. Through the new Proton compatibility layer, Valve says Windows games without Linux support can now be installed and run directly from the Linux Steam client, with native Steamworks and OpenVR support to boot.
There are other benefits to the Steam Play update as well, including better fullscreen support and improved gamepad recognition. And compared to the vanilla Wine software, Valve says performance for multi-threaded games is better with Steam Play.
While this move is expected to significantly enhance gaming on Linux, the beta supports just 27 games out of the gate, including titles such as Doom, Final Fantasy VI, Quake, Tekken 7, and others. Valve says it will be enabling more titles in the near future after it's had a chance to test things out.