The Evolution of the Linux Games Catalog

racinggames

Shortly after the launch of BoilingSteam in late 2014, I had written about the lack of certain genres of games on the Linux platform – if you remember, in that grim period we only had about 800 games available – that seems like a long time now since we have then crossed the 2 thousands titles’ bar. But more games does not necessarily mean we get more games in all genres. There’s already quite a good selection of RPGs, strategy games, adventure games, platformers, FPS, some TPS… but let’s see what changed versus the previous assessment of the situation back then.

Racing Games

grid

Well that’s one area where we have clearly seen some serious improvement, thanks to VP and Feral so far. VP produced the port of Dirt:Showdown – a decent arcady driver, yet not a real car simulator in the traditional sense of the term. Feral then released in the same year GRID:Autosport, the most convincing title so far. There were talks about a Linux port of Project Cars, but that ship seems to have sailed long ago after they dropped the WiiU port and shifted their attention on Project Cars 2 – Even though PCars2 is supposed to come out for SteamOS, I personally won’t believe it until I see a beta build running on Linux. How about other hardcore simulators ? Unless anything has changed there is no sign we would get Assetto Corsa either, easily one of the most serious simulators out there. But let’s not lose hope, we just got the F1 2015 port, and probably within this year we can hope to see Dirt Rally as well, while there is no official announcement yet. There are even some indie games (Distance is one, while it’s not really a realistic racer). One thing is sure, that genre’s grabbing some attention, and I am all for it.

Sports Games

jacknicklaus

Well, it’s still mostly a huge void. That’s kind of natural, since most of big names in the field are part of EA or Konami, companies not known to be very friendly/open towards Linux in the first place. EA has virtually no incentive in supporting Linux since they now compete against Valve with their own game store, Origin – and Linux gaming is still very much a byproduct of Valve’s efforts. The only hope is 2K Games with their 2K Sports franchises, but since the end of 2014 I have not seen any movement there. Rejoice, at least we got a golf game recently, so I guess it’s better than nothing. But hardly. Rocket League should fall in that kind of category when it’s out… if it ever comes out.

CCG/TCG (Collectible/Trading Card Games)

There hasn’t been much evolution there, if we look at the most popular options. It’s normal since we are not going to get any official Hearthstone port anytime soon (and honestly it does not matter THAT much since it runs perfectly under WINE with PlayonLinux) or Magic Duels, or Hex for that matter. [ EDIT: I missed Faeria (thanks Liam) which is for now only in early access. ] Still, I bet these kind of games would be pretty popular, it may be something worth looking into if you are in the business of porting games.

MMORPG

top-ARK

While there has been no major IP coming to Linux since late 2014, there’s at least some cool alternatives these days. ARK:Survival Evolved is a new take on the MMORPG genre (and the Linux client performance has apparently improved quite nicely since our first impressions came out). We should not forget Runescape‘s recent Linux support. There’s even the old Ryzom which made a come-back via Steam using a pseudo Free-to-Play model (while it makes a difference between Free and Paying subscribers in terms of capabilities) – graphics-wise it looks ancient though. EDIT: it seems I also missed Albion Online (Thanks Liam again).

Fighting Games

skullgirls

While this category has hardly seen the same amount of activity, there’s changes in the air. First, we have finally got the port some Linux users paid for when they supported Skullgirls‘ kickstarter. Second, Valve has announced in late 2015 the upcoming port of Street Fighter V, which was a huge surprise since virtually no-one expected such a big game to make it so soon on Linux. Well, we are still waiting on them to make good on their promise, looks like it’s delayed (Rocket League all over again?)… There’s definitely space for more, I would not mind something like Tekken (Tekken 7 may be coming to Windows), Dead or Alive (the 5th episode is already on Windows),Soul Calibur (still a console exclusive so far) or Blaz Blue (already on Windows) for that matter, but we can’t expect to have things all at once.

Japanese Games

donganronpa

That was not a category per se in my 2014 post, but actually it should be, especially for RPGs and Adventure games – where the Japanese take on the genre gives radically different games. I must say there are been surprising developments recently, with the port of Danganronpa 1 and 2, as well as the upcoming release of Corpse Party. True, those are not really AAA games in their genre, especially if you compare them to Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, but they are still very decent and fun to play. It’s still a drop in the ocean compared to what’s available on Windows (or even consoles for that matter), but it’s a start. Note that we are getting some visual novels as well, such as Higurashi when they cry. Visual Novels are a big thing in Japan, and there’s definitely some good ones that are worth porting.

A Clear Improvement

It’s natural to still feel a little constrained when looking at some categories, but there are now clear signs that not only the number, but also the horizon and overall variety of games we are getting on Linux is increasing. Changes are more obvious in some genres than others – it seems that we tend to get more of the complex games than the fast, action-paced ones in terms of priority – but as the Linux gaming crowd expands bit by bit, the offering is meant to evolve with the audience. Now a word to the wise: when there is a VERY limited offering for a particular genre, it could be a good target for professional porters to focus on since they would get a lot more visibility if theirs is the only game in the genre versus the hundredth.


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Ekianjo

7 Comments

  1. For sports games, you missed out the management subgenre, where the Football Manager and Out of the Park baseball games have been out for two or three iterations, and Motorsport Manager is upcoming. Also, if you’re bringing up Rocket League, Frozen Cortex – a futuristic sports game that DID get released – should probably warrant a mention.

    • I don’t really consider management games to be sports game, since they are more akin to strategy than the games themselves. Managing a team is kind of like managing resources in a RTS or in a 4X strategy game, so for me they don’t really fall in the same category.

      • But they are sports games and Football Manager is obviously the best title we have. The series are some of the most popular games on Steam!

  2. I got onto steam using linux last year when the catalog looked interesting. A year later there’s been a huge improvement.

  3. There is also duelyst, which is working very well in the browser (google chrome only) on beta.duelyst.com.

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