In Other News as June Begins


This week has been pretty rich in announcements so let’s try to cover everything. Let’s go bullet-point like, because it’s more efficient this way…

  • SteamOS 2.80 is in beta. You may not have to wait too long for an update from the current 2.70 version. The good news for AMD users is that it will include the latest AMD GPU PRO graphics drivers with Vulkan support. That is only enabled for “Bonaire” GPU at that time of the beta, but other GPU are said to be included when testing is finished. Not sure if it’s very relevant for many folks, but SteamOS 2.80 will also include hardware support for numerous logitech devices.
  • Alien Hunters DLC for XCom2 is now available for Linux, a little later than for the other platforms.
  • Dead Island and Dead Island Riptide Definitive Editions are now available for Linux, and apparently they run quite nicely (a little slower vs the Windows version, but not too bad) according to a video available on youtube.
  • Apparently Valve has sold about 500 000 Steam Controllers since its release. Since it’s about 200 days since its release (actually more if you account for pre-orders, but let’s round it up to 200), it means they have been selling/shipping about 2500 units per day. It’s not bad but that’s not huge either - remember back in December when they released their video about their manufacturing process, I mentioned they were probably producing 2000 units per hour of shift, so selling about 2500 days means they have been stocking up on a while without having to produce new batches too often most likely. On top of that if we assume 125 millions of active steam users, this means that only less than 5 in 1000 users bought one. For something that was prominently featured many time on the store, it’s not a huge conversion rate. It’s also fair to assume that the Steam Controller is by-far the most successful part of the Steam Machines initiative. If we do a very quick and dirty estimation based on the last Q4 2015 results and we assume a ratio of ownership of 1 Steam Machine for 25 Steam Controllers (and maybe this is EVEN too optimistic!), we could derive something like 20 000 Steam Machines sold up until now. Maybe this figure seems very low, but I would not be surprised if that number’s not too far from the reality. But again, it could be completely wrong. Who knows…
  • The Pocket CHIP (49$) was in demo at the Maker Fair 2016. It does not look great but for the price it’s a great little machine that has some interesting possibilities.
  • GPU Wars: There’s something new from AMD pretty soon with the upcoming release of the RX480 card at 200 USD at the end June 2016. It’s going to be apparently similar to the R9 390 card, at a more competitive price and lower power consumption. No idea about it will perform on Linux since the AMD drivers are what they are right now, but this could be an option to consider in the near future. nVidia is going to make the 1070 commercially available very soon, and based on the benchmarks it’s basically between the level of a 980 Ti and a Titan X for the price of a GTX 970 (350 USD I guess?) - while being almost twice as fast as a GTX970. That’s an impressive step up, and probably the first affordable card that’s 4K ready. Not sure how much performance we will get on Linux but so far nVIdia models have been fairly consistent on Windows and Linux in terms of how much performance they bring up.
  • Atari Vault is apparently on SteamOS now, in case you care about super-old retro games. One nice thing is that all games come with their own Steam Controller config.
  • D, the Game, a title from the 3DO era from Kenji Eno (who unfortunately passed away in 2013) has now a Linux client on GOG, DRM-free. It probably hasn’t aged very well graphically, but it’s kept a cult following after its release (as well as D-2).
  • The Mean Greens is now released on Linux, using a UE4-based engine. Only problem, it’s a multiplayer-only game, and there are only about 30 players at peak right now. This is sad, but also a major problem since most multiplayer games cannot hope to get much traction versus the much bigger titles out there.
  • Eve Online has now an unofficial Linux launcher (the launcher is native but the game runs with WINE) provided by one of the dev team members. That’s a really nice gesture to offer an easy option for Linux gamers to hop on.

That was a mouthful! Now you can enjoy the rest of your Friday or the beginning of your Weekend!