We are back with our prediction game that’s been going on since 2021! In 2021 we had a lot of great insights about where the future was headed, in 2022 not as much, but let’s see if our seers have learnt anything from the last edition and if they could improve their perception power!
So we were able to gather quite a few guests this year’s edition:
- Nick from the Linux Experiment (based in France)
- James Ramey (based in the US)
- JugandoenLinux (based in Spain)
- Chris Were (based in the UK)
- Luke Short (based in the US)
- Corben (based in Germany)
- Sirmikester (based in the US)
And you will find at the end the Boiling Steam’s staff predictions too.
Just like for the previous years, everyone was asked (privately) to prepare their predictions independently from each other. None of us were aware of the nature of other’s predictions to avoid any external or peer influence. Everyone was asked to provide 5 predictions, and as much as possible keep them specific and measurable to avoid any ambiguity in interpretation.
The predictions for 2023 were collected between Feburary and March 2023, some earlier than others but roughly within a month’s window. No prediction came true before the end of the collection so there was no sudden change required before the publication of this article.
We will first start with the guest predictions, in no particular order.
Nick from The Linux Experiment
Nick is a product owner and project manager turned YouTuber. He talks about the Linux desktop, privacy, Linux gaming, and all related topics on his youtube channel, The Linux Experiment: youtube.com/thelinuxexperiment.
- The announcement of an updated Steam Deck
I don’t think we’ll see a Steam Deck 2, if only because Valve definitely said they won’t do that yet, but I would be surprised if we didn’t see at least an announcement about a revised model. Whether it’s akin to a Steam Deck “Pro”, with a better screen, better battery, or better sticks, or a Deck Mini, or a small hardware revision with various improvements, I’m expecting a new device to be announced in 2023.
- Complete Wayland support for Linux gaming
I’m expecting the Wayland driver for Wine to be completed this year, and promptly included in Proton as well. The Deck uses Wayland and runs games with XWayland, and I think they’d much prefer to remove that small performance difference ASAP, so I’d be surprised if work wasn’t completed this year on this front.
- Official Steam OS ISO
It’s long overdue, and I really think we’ll see an ISO for SteamOS in 2023. Something official, that supports Nvidia and AMD GPUs, and that can be run on any computer of your choosing. The last holdout is the Game UI of the Deck running well on Nvidia, and they’re already working on it, if the latest release notes for the Linux Steam Client are to be believed. I thought it would release before the end of 2022, and I was wrong, so we’ll see if it happens this year!
- 2% Market share for Linux on Steam
Not a very optimistic prediction, but before the end of the year, I’m expecting Linux to crack 2% of the Steam market share, at least as reported by the Steam Hardware survey. We’ve currently closer to 1.2 or 1.4%, but with the Deck available in Asia now, I’m expecting a small boost. I already had this prediction for last year, but I think we can make it in 2023!
- Passing the 50% bar of Playable Steam Games
We’re currently sitting at 38% of the top 1000 games on Steam that are Playable or Verified. I’m expecting this ratio to go up significantly, and reach 50% at the end of the year. Now that the Deck is well installed, and as new, Deck Verified games take the place of older ones in that top 1000, I think we can crack it.
James Ramey from Codeweavers
James is well known if you are familiar with our articles and interviews conducted with him in the past. He is the President of Codeweavers (the company behind most of the WINE/Proton efforts). He has also reviewed his own predictions a few days ago.
My first prediction is that we will see some sort of VR device for the Steam Deck in 2023. To clarify, this is likely NOT an Oculus Rift type device but something between the NReal Air and the Oculus Rift. With the popularity of the Steam Deck, I think it is a matter of time before someone builds out some accessories for it. I predicted this in 2022, and I am predicting it again in 2023.
Next, I believe that there will be a AAA game exclusive for the Steam Deck in 2023. This is a stretch as the Linux gaming market is still relatively small in comparison to the entire video gaming market; however, I believe that the form factor of the Steam Deck lends itself nicely to gaming to which I believe at least one game developer will capitalize on.
Linux market share on Steam will hit 3% by the end of 2023 (currently at 1.27% as of February 2023). The prevailing thought is while 3% doesn’t sound like much that was less than 1% as of June 2021. That’s a significant increase in Linux gaming (just on Steam) in a relatively short period of time.
This is my longshot… I predict a Steam-based console comparable to the Xbox or PS5 will be announced before the end of this year.
Finally (another very longshot), I predict that we will see at least two additional video game streaming services commercially available to gamers before the end of 2023. This space seems to be gaining considerable momentum and while gaming machines are still very popular I see a future where people are playing more AAA titles through their TVs and other devices.
Jugando en Linux
JugandoenLinux is the reference for Linux Gaming in the Spanish Language. That’s what they had in mind for 2023:
Valve will announce a VR system based on SteamOS, that won’t require a PC
Valve announces the Steam Controller 2
Epic provides official support for Linux on the EGS and puts Heroic Games Launcher out of business
Finally, GOG annouces official Linux support for GOG Galaxy
The Steam Linux Gaming user-base reaches 2%
My name is Chris Were, and I’m a Fediverse person. I also sometimes make videos on YouTube and now TikTok (@ludo_chris). I did very poorly with my predictions last year; let’s hope 2023 is better.
OpenMW will merge the multiplayer forks into its main branch, which will mean that a whole bunch of new people will start playing Morrowind multiplayer. Non-FOSS and non-Linux gaming YouTubers and Twitch streamers will be putting out videos of people having fun and breaking the game in multiplayer.
The Steam Deck will continue to experience steady growth in popularity following the announcement of a new release, which will be an incremental improvement and a refined version of the Steam Deck.
Ubuntu has lost its top spot as the gaming Linux platform. Despite Canonical’s attempt to bolster its status as a gaming platform, it will remain in second place.
Canonical will attempt to add proprietary games to the Snap store for sale in an attempt to legitimize it to users. This will fail to gain any traction for the platform. Flathub will also start selling games; it’ll be off to a slow start but may gain little traction in the coming years since Itch.io has already made a decent name for itself as a Steam alternative. Neither platform will come close to challenging Itch.io and certainly not Steam.
The Boiling Steam Twitter account will become inactive by the end of the year. Either Twitter will fold, or they will stop posting because the platform has become too awful.
Luke Short is the creator of winesapOS, a Sales Engineer @VMware (while he may have changed jobs recently), a Linux gamer, a cloud native developer, and of course an open source advocate. His predictions for 2023 are as follows:
- Mature Vulkan drivers on Arm.
Vulkan drivers used by Broadcom (v3dv for the Raspberry Pi 4) and Mali (panvk for Rock Pi and other Arm chips) drivers will finally achieve Vulkan 1.3 support this year. They’ll be as good as the Adreno driver (turnip for Qualcomm phones) driver which is rock solid thanks to Collabora. This also opens the way to use Zink for devices that have incomplete OpenGL drivers.
- Apple Silicon graphics drivers getting OpenGL 4.6 working.
At the end of last year, the Asahi Linux project had partial OpenGL 2 working. Recently, they got OpenGL 3 working. I think it’s possible for full OpenGL support to be added to the new “agx” driver in Mesa. The “agxv” Vulkan driver will also be started and published before the end of the year but won’t be usable.
- More Arm gaming.
More AAA titles and various x86 working on Arm devices thanks to FEX-Emu, Box64, and Hangover. This will partly depend on the Raspberry Pi normalizing which the company said should happen in the second half of 2023. That’ll open the doors again to be more accessible for community testing now that the software is maturing. The Steam Deck supports a bit more than 80% of Steam games. I predict that half of that, 40% of Steam games, will work on Arm devices that have Vulkan 1.3 support.
- Ubuntu tries to drop 32-bit application support. Again.
Now that Steam is a Snap, Canonical’s goal of containerizing Steam’s 32-bit dependencies is complete. The host operating system no longer requires legacy 32-bit libraries. They said they would only keep around the 32-bit libraries that Steam needed and work on a containerized solution for the long-term. Snap is that solution. Ubuntu 23.10 may be the first release to drop 32-bit DEB packages.
- Linux on Linux 64-bit (LoL64, similar in concept to WoW64) infrastructure.
Linux needs better 32-bit support on systems with 64-bit. Specifically without the need to build and distribute 32-bit Linux binaries. As far as I’m aware, a project like this does not exist yet. I predict a new project will come along this year to fill in this niche. Possibly made in partnership with Canonical.
I’m a software engineer from Germany, studied computer science and started to work full time in the IT 2007, working with embedded C programming for ARM devices and now full stack web development with MVC frameworks like Laravel.
The effort that Valve has put into Linux gaming has all worked towards the Steam Deck, so I guess it’s okay if most predictions are related to the Steam Deck:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
Sirmikester works on Linux-based software & devices (firstname.lastname@example.org). He frequently discusses Linux-gaming related topics, and he predicts the following for 2023:
Steam deck users will make up > 30% of all Linux users on Steam, Steam’s overall OS market share will go > 2% by the end of the year
A major game developer/publisher will add Proton to its list of officially supported configurations
Valve will announce official/beta Steam support for ARM64, enabling it to work natively on recent Macbooks, Android phones with desktop modes (e.g. Samsung DEX) and ARM-based Linux devices (e.g. RaspberryPi)
Steam will come out of BETA for Chrome OS, but adoption will be relatively low given a lack of high end gaming hardware.
(Wishful Thinking) Activision/Blizzard will release a Battle.Net client for Linux, and adopt Proton/Wine for compatibility across its portfolio of games.
The Boiling Steam Staff
And now let’s move to our own predictions! We will start with our newest team member, Nils.
Nobara Project will become a popular gaming/content creator distro. Metrics: we are going to see more of it on protondb, and it will increase positions on distrowatch (it just appeared for the first time), possibly passing garuda, and reach 5k people subscribed to their Reddit page by the end of the year.
No new handheld device will be released with SteamOS out of the box. (but some might offer support). 0 new devices by the end of the year.
For every single month of steam hardware survey, Nvidia will still be on top of AMD if you discount steam deck GPU.
Ubisoft will patch some of their games on steam to work with proton (because of deck). By the end of the year, I expect to see For Honor (EAC) first, then Six Siege last (because they are comfy with their numbers). Well, unless they forgot to fire the people who got them in NFTs, to abandon steam and whatever they are doing to report loses every single year besides sizeable gross profits.
I will play 100 different games on Linux by the end of the year, I think less than 10 will fail, and less than 5 will not have a fix by the end of the year.
In the first half of the year, Valve will release a new non-VR game in the half-life universe;
Linux will cross the 3% mark on Valve Hardware Survey until the end of the Year;
Microsoft will release a XBox portable console by the end of the Year.
A big AAA publisher will release a game that is native Linux with dxvk-native, so that it runs on the Deck
One of the big cloud publishers (Xbox Cloud, Playstation Now, GeForce Now) will start supporting VR via cloud (before the end of the year).
The Steam Deck will be available through at least one major retailer, including in-person brick and mortar stores with demo units. And in time for holiday shopping in December.
Valve will announce a new VR headset by the end of the year, but it won’t be available in 2023. The biggest upgrade to the Index will be wireless support and a new tracking system (not just base stations for the controllers).
Along with that, Valve will open source (most of) SteamVR for others to use, and for the community to finally fix long-standing bugs. This will be announced with the new headset.
Linux numbers on Steam will continue to increase, but slowly. I think we’ll break the 1.5% level by the end of summer, and hover around there by year’s end.
I did pretty bad in 2022 in terms of accuracy, let’s hope I could improve a bit this year.
Valve announces a refresh/revision for the Steam Deck, that does not fundamentally change its capabilities but builds on it (larger battery? modified shell?) based on the end user feedback.
Linux passes at least once the 2% market share on Steam before the end of the year.
Box86 and Box64 will have close to full support by the end of the year on the RISC-V architecture - and you will see numerous Windows games running on it (low-end only for now).
Despite the earlier rumors, Valve will not venture into the stand-alone VR headsets for now, because the market is not mature yet, and Steam VR for Linux has a long way to go as well.
Proton will become an additional build target for at least one middleware engine (for example Unity, or Godot?), with the premice that if you target Proton, the game will run both on Windows and on the Steam Deck without compatibility issues.
We will reconnect at the end of the year to check again how everything turned out. But before that, we will also issue the Top 5 combined predictions (as long as there was some commonlity in the above) and see if they fare better than the individual ones, too!
It’s now or never if you also want to join the prediction game - comment below with 5 statements and we will be happy to consider them as well for ratings later in the year!