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Alienware say Steam Machine will increase Linux gamers by “20, 30 fold. Overnight”

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Linux gaming has seen massive growth in the past two years, ever since Valve began openly supporting the open source operating system. That growth is nothing compared to what it will be after the launch of their Steam Machines, says Alienware’s product manager, Marc Diana.

Talking to us at E3 he said “It’s going to be 20, 30 fold. Overnight.

“I mean Valve, you never want to underestimate their initiatives and what they are going to do with Steam Machine’s OS is going to be unparalleled in PC gaming.”

Diana ties his prediction to the uptake in developers using OpenGL over DirectX. Till now there’s been little competition between the two graphics libraries, Microsoft’s DirectX has been the go to choice for developers. However, in recent years that trend’s started to reverse.

“There’s more games that are linux powered today than have ever been available in the market, and that continues to grow,” Diana said. “It’s projected that whenever SteamOS comes out, there’s going to be 700 plus titles on SteamOS that are OpenGL games.”

One reason for this is that it’s become much simpler to convert your game to OpenGL.

“The CryEngine today is probably the best example of seamless transition between OpenGL and DX. You can build a game on CryEngine and the CryEngine will do the conversions to OpenGL for you.

“[Crytek] is a great example of company that has looked at OpenGL and said ‘You know what, this is the future of game development, we’re going to invest in it, and we’re going to make it extremely easy to publish on multiplatform.’”

Diana admitted that adoption of new technologies is always “cumbersome at first” and that effects growth but the Steam Machine is “going to take that away.” At its core the machines are running a Linux operating system so people who buy into Valve’s hardware are buying into that platform and, with it, OpenGL gaming. “They’re going to increase user adoption rate 20 fold,” Diana predicts.

“Imagine how many people are gaming today on linux, and how many people will be gaming once Steam Machine launches. It’s going to be 20, 30 fold. Overnight.”

The Steam Machine’s official launch has been delayed into 2015, till Valve are happy with the controller. However, that’s not stopping Alienware releasing the device that was going to be their first Steam Machine, the Alpha. It can even run Valve’s SteamOS if you’d like it to but, unlike later releases, this one will come running Windows 8.

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subedii's picture
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I'd say that's an optimistic figure, but eh.

Personally I'm _hoping_ that linux gaming starts taking off, and there are some pretty good indicators in that regard. Aside from all the points she mentioned about engine adoption and transition to OpenGL, more of the bigger hitters are starting to do Linux versions.

Indies have already been making the move for a while now. Valve's a given, and bring them some much needed big names. But I was surprised to read that Witcher 3 is going to be on Linux / SteamOS as well now (especially when around that time, CDP Red were also announcing their own client). Civ 5 just dropped on Linux, Rome II is on its way (and presumably future titles from those studios depending on how things go). Serious Sam 4. Chris Roberts hinted that Linux is in Star Citizen's future (given it's a CryEngine game, this seems all the more plausible).

If someone like 2K should hop on-board then I think it'll be safe to say there's real momentum there. I'm not putting much expectation in EA doing so though, at least not until it gets really solidly established.

I was kind of surprised recently when I installed Steam on my Mint partition around a month ago and found out of maybe 200 games, approximately 50 were already linux compatible.

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Tim Edwards's picture
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I'm sort of more interested in seeing companies that aren't on Steam picking up Linux - at that point it shows there is momentum beyond just the Steambox. A vote of confidence from Riot, or Wargaming, or Blizzard would be phenomenally interesting.

Sidenote: a little while ago, we were flirting around the idea of having a little Mac gaming site as a side-project, and did some research into the numbers of Mac gamers using Steam. The numbers were teeny, teeny tiny. It strikes me that Linux could quite easily surpass Mac clients within a year - if it gets the growth Alienware are predicting.

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subedii's picture
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According the last Steam hardware / software survey, Linux users are around 1% of userbase, with Mac at 3%. Technically 3x as many users, but in the grand scheme of things it wouldn't take much to edge over Mac gaming in that respect.

There's needs to be a serious snowball effect in order for things to get moving. Personally the main reason I _don't_ game on Linux is simply because for the proportion of games I regularly play, most are still on Windows, so that's what I'll boot into when I want to play. It wouldn't take much of a push to make spending most of my time in Linux the preferable option.

With Steamboxes it may be less of an issue, since it will have in-home streaming. Which could be a subtle way to start transitioning things over.

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Mountain_Man's picture
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Keep in mind that the Steam hardware survey is rather unreliable for a number of reasons including the fact that it's a non-comprehensive, random sample of Steam users, it's voluntary, and it has no way of accounting for people who have it installed on multiple operating systems. I rather suspect that Steam greatly underestimates the number of Linux users, especially compared to the Humble Bundle which shows Linux gamers accounting for anywhere from 10% to 25% of purchases.

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subedii's picture
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Fair point. I've always wondered whether the proportions in the humble bundle were because Linux gamers were more prolific with indie stuff, or just gave more money.

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NihlusGreen's picture
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On the bright side hopefully In-Home Streaming will progress a lot further

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