Corben Reviews His Linux Gaming Predictions for 2023


In February we are going to spend a bit more time reviewing the predictions made about a year ago by our different hosts about the future of Linux Gaming (for 2023). Today, here’s what Corben had to say about how his own predictions panned out!

SteamOS as a new Arch Linux based distribution on Desktops and other gaming devices

We see this already happening with the community driven holoiso, though currently only working properly with AMD GPUs. Probably this will be expanded to nVidia as well. Valve stated they would like to see SteamOS on more devices. Having a ready-to-use Distribution, with gaming focus and still be usable by the not-so-well-versed (Linux) user could be turning point for people to give it a try.

This did not happen. Yet? Valve still emphasizes they’d like to see more devices using SteamOS. Though some other big players were jumping onto the handheld gaming device hype, e.g. Asus with their ROG Ally, Lenovo with their Legion Go and soon MSI with their Claw, only one vendor now announced to ship their upcoming device with HoloISO: The new Ayaneo Next Lite. Windows 11 shipping on the other devices is not a great experience. I have both the Ally and the Go, and… well SteamOS would suit them so much better! But we do have some new distributions targeting this: ChimeraOS and Nobara. Would be great to be able to update the BIOS from Linux for those devices too, but here dual booting seems necessary.

Steam Deck as Desktop replacement

Valve is happy with the success of the Steam Deck, their team is motivated to improve the experience, and though it is mainly a gaming device, it is also a (Linux) PC. But it lacks some features to have it mainly as a Desktop PC if people choose to, e.g. currently a feature for battery “saving” is missing if you use the Deck mainly docked (so it keeps the battery between 40% and 60% to increase lifespan), booting into Desktop mode needs extra steps. But I also hope we see features like a 1:1 mirror of the gaming mode when docked or attached to an external monitor (currently it’s using the resolution of the external monitor).

There have been many improvements on SteamOS, but it didn’t get any setting to make it easier to boot directly into Desktop mode. Decky loader and the Power Tools plugin make it possible to keep the device from fully charging though and extend the battery lifespan if mostly plugged in. We’ve seen how Valve is natively implementing great features the community added via plugins, so this might become integrated at some point. With the Nested Desktop feature it’s not too much of a hassle to get into the Desktop from gaming mode though. A missing feature is to use the Steam and Quick Access button via keyboard. Ctrl+1 and ctrl+2 work only when not in a game.

Steam Deck in retail stores

So far the Deck has only been sold via Valve’s store page, except in certain Asian regions (Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea), where they are selling the Deck via a local partner. With Valve being able to have the Deck in stock, they can now start selling it in retail stores, which will increase its reach even more. Which means more Linux gamers!

Still only in Japan. The only other handheld gaming devices in retail stores are the likes of ROG Ally and Legion Go. Valve seems to have enough devices in stock, maybe distributing them in retail stores is much easier in Japan than in other countries though. In Japan they have teamed up with a 3rd party reseller for this, maybe that’s a requirement there to be able to sell it at all as a non-Japanese vendor.

Valve will encourage devs to build native Linux versions

During the announcement of the Deck, they said devs don’t have to worry much about Deck compatibility, as Proton will take care of it. They also said it wasn’t yet the time to talk about Linux versions. 2023 it is the time! This will increase demand of devs to be able to do this with the common Game engines. So the Engine tools will improve and make it more easy to create native versions for other platforms, especially for the Deck and Linux. The dream of a one-click export shall come closer!

So far I haven’t read about Valve trying to encourage devs to build native Linux versions for better Deck support. And reality shows it’s more of the opposite. Engines still aren’t optimized for Linux, devs are much better versed with the Windows API, and we’ve seen several games dropping Linux support or canceling Linux ports as the costs don’t justify the effort but go with Proton. Proton has matured a lot and performs really well. We can play these games on our favorite operating system, that’s what we want. Sure a native version would be preferred, but if Proton does the job so well, I prefer a better game instead.

Reaching 2% on the Steam hardware survey

Probably not, but I’m out of ideas and my recent predictions haven’t come true really. 2% will eventually happen, probably not this year though. Same for the Deckard, we’ll see more on it, more work behind the scenes shining to the surface for us to witness, but an official announcement could be still a few years out and they are currently having their focus on the Deck.

We didn’t reach 2%, but we got really close with over 1.9% recently, topping at 1.97%. Linux has outperformed MacOS on the Steam Hardware survey, and back then when Linux was below 1% while MacOS having about 2% devs were creating native Mac ports without hesitation. So shouldn’t it be easy to get Linux ports now? Unfortunately not, we do get Steam Deck support though, and that’s enough for me. Looking forward to seeing Linux rising as a gaming platform in general.

Thanks Corben! Here’s a few useful links on this topic: