- Wayland use will rapidly increase on account of NVIDIA’s next major driver supporting it. I still will not have figured out how to make the maximize button go away for fixed-size windows using xdg-decoration due to gross incompetence.
- Pipewire use will rapidly increase on account of an audio stack finally being kind of good. I still will not have figured out GetAudioDeviceSpec regardless of backend due to gross incompetence
- EAC will still not be supported, but that won’t stop people from asking about it anyway like it wouldn’t be front-page news on every site, subreddit, mobile phone alert, and repurposed stock ticker the literal attosecond that a test build becomes available
- People will still file reports utterly shocked that a Bethesda game has bugs in it
- People will still keep telling me to just not bother anymore, then file an FAudio report the next day
- Microsoft will continue intentionally sabotaging Mono and .NET on Linux, but my patches to fix it will end up sabotaging it even more due to gross incompetence
- I will learn to group similar predictions together instead of scattering them around randomly
- I will learn to check my list numbers before sending replies to members of the press
- Nope, still no EAC, thanks for asking though just in case everyone forgot!
- Oh wait did we talk about native at all, does anyone other than me even care, oh whatever I’m just putting off work aren’t I
- Everyone reading this will not laugh at anything I wrote and take revenge for having their time wasted by sponsoring me, boy that would show me https://github.com/sponsors/flibi
- As Valve has already shown a real long breath with Linux gaming and VR, I expect something is about happen there. Of course I am biased, with being a big fan of VR and enjoying games like Beat Saber and Synth Riders among other VR games a lot. Nevertheless, to bring this to more attention, where I think the best way to show those games is through streaming (vods are nice, but the live interaction is more appealing) and streaming VR is done best in a mixed reality view, and Valve just recently mentioning to look into more ways to advertise Linux gaming, I guess something in this direction will happen. On Windows, many VR games have the LIV SDK integrated, and LIV can do an easy MR setup. This is missing on Linux yet, but when talking to LIV they said they plan to join the Kronos Group for working on and with OpenXR. so I’d expect Linux streamers having the possibilty to show more games in mixed reality. As this has to be done right now with a trick: another view into the game, a 3rd person cam that barely any game has integrated. Beat Saber has it as a hidden feature or via a modification. Only Synth Riders has it configurable from the game menu. Atm I’m not aware of any other game. The sooner this happens, the more Linux mixed reality VR streams will happen, raising the awareness for gamers of being able to play VR games on Linux.
70% of games work gold or Platinum out of the box 2. I’d also expect that more and more games will “just” work on Linux, especially with release. Probably still mostly via Proton, but devs are about to see a rise in more people playing their games on Linux, and at least have awareness that Linux is evolving to a viable gaming platform. So devs will start to support Proton, as Valve hasn’t whitelisted any games for a while now.
Especially with Valve’s move to use a containerized environment since Proton 5.13, it’ll give game devs the one single environment to make things work, no hassle with different library versions on different distributions.
Also as Stadia is a Linux platform, thus needing devs to target Linux, I’d also expect that more games will come to the Linux desktop eventually. Game engines will evolve, being able to target Stadia and/or Linux more easily, and this causing less trouble for game devs to port their game over. I don’t know any details, but if Google doesn’t pay publishers and game devs money for exclusivity, I’d expect to have games that are available on Stadia eventually being available on Desktop Linux. Especially if they are single player experiences and don’t need any anti-cheat mechanisms. The Linux version is there, so why not reaching more potential customers. (I don’t expect EAC to work on Linux by end of 2021 though)
maybe by seeing 2 or 3 native open source linux launchers/projects, that can download and start games from stores like Origin and Ubi Connect 3. More a wish than a real expection would be, that big game companies would open up their stores for the open source community, and not blocking but kind of working together with them. The Linux community is up for helping out for free, as their motivations aren’t necessarily monetary based. Sure, everybody needs money in our economy, but still. I’m referring to alternative launchers like legendary, or the UI based version heroic (I’m not aware of alternative launchers for Origin or Ubisoft Connect, the formerly Uplay Launcher). With this, these stores might even consider to have Linux depots and support native Linux versions. As there often are Linux versions of their games already available (looking at all the Stadia games, e.g. Immortals Fenyx Rising), it could mean more sold copies for the studios. History has shown, that they just don’t want to pay the support costs, but here the open source community might be willing to help. Depends all on the circumstances and the tone we are all communicating. And after a while, when the share is big enough to cover the costs or even turn into profit, we get official support.
As it looks quite good for Linux gaming nowadays with its awareness already rising, I’m expecting people be more tolerant. There are way too many people still making fun of Linux users, especially if something doesn’t work: “just use Windows”, “porting for the 3 people using Linux must be really worth it”, “you really must hate Microsoft”, etc pp. I mean, you don’t tell a vegetarian to eat meat, just because there is no vegetarian meal on the card, do you? People have made a decision, this should be respected as with any other decision people have made based on their experiences, their wishes and their desires. And this will change more and more, with more people using Linux. We will see less toxic comments on forums, with Linux rising and its gamers to be equally treated like any other gamer.
Epic will officially start to support Linux, triggering the switch for Origin, Uplay, GOG, etc. to also actively support Linux.
- I do think that the COVID-19 boost to gaming will attenuate, and some developments might be slower. PC sales growth might stall.
- wine-eac WILL get back on track, but just slightly. It will start working for a few games with Easy Anti-Cheat only, and will break often.
- A few notable games using Godot 4.0 with Vulkan will appear on Steam. At least one of them, being Linux native, will sell more than a million licenses.
- Raytracing via dxvk will happen. First for NVIDIA users, then for AMD RX 6000 series users.
- A new Linux-compatible VR HMD will appear on the wild.
- EAC will be supported in 2021 for the first time through Proton and while it may not work for all use cases some games will run with it.
- Valve will announce a new hardware project that will make use of all the work they did on Vulkan and Proton.
- Linux Gaming Market Share on Steam will remain safely below 1%.
- Nvidia will announce their official support for Wayland as X11 turns into maintenance mode
- Dirt 5 will be playable on Proton
- Proton will be the future of Linux gaming, as native ports will continue to decrease
- EAC will no longer be an obstacle
- Epic won’t have as much of a stronghold on game exclusives
- SteamOS 3.0 or the next-gen Steam controller will arrive
Michael Labowicz (@mlabowicz on twitter)
- ChromeOS will be the leading Linux distro on Steam
- we’ll start seeing proton-enabled games advertised as supported on linux on steam
- Linux will overtake Mac on X86 in terms of Steam marketshare.
- We’ll see more open source games like OpenTTD release on steam to get exposed to a larger audience, in particular 0.A.D.
- VR on Linux will be almost non-existent: no new native port of VR games to Linux (Valve games do not count)
- Valve releases his cloud gaming service along with steam OS 2.0
- Steam for Chrome OS boosts linux adoption
- Godot increases significantly its user base and there are more comercial games using it
- Wayland takes off without performance problems, an so will Xwayland. Nvidia officially adopt Wayland with their new drivers
- SteamVR for Linux takes off with the new Monado API
Stalemate: no new support or product will be announced by a major company
One major distribution (not already using Wayland) goes Wayland by default
Steam Play gains one breakthrough that expands its compatibility noticeably
One more critically acclaimed and/or commercially successful game developed on Linux
Cloud Gaming: Even more gaming services will be officially available on Linux by the end of the year
We are in a stalemate
When Ekianjo approached me to ask about my Linux gaming expectations for 2021, I had to stop and think for a while.
It has been a good while since Valve’s Steam for Linux debut, Steam Machines, fully cross-platform Humble Bundles, partial support from big names like CD Projekt and their GOG.com, or Paradox and their Plaza. Since all those great ports released by Feral, Aspyr, Virtual Programming, and many less known porting heroes. Vulkan being pushed as a new industry standard and with it, the dawn of new fantastic tech, such as DXVK. Many of us prophesized the end of Wine era. Era of endless tinkering with configurations and workarounds. It was safe to talk about growth of the dreaded Linux percentage share in the gaming market.
And yet, just as unexpectedly as it started, it stopped. Less dedicated ports from big publishers, no fully-fledged support from SteamVR, GOG Galaxy, Epic Games Store. No interest from the biggest of fish: EA, Ubisoft, or Blizzard. Linux gaming only mentioned in context of Google products, Stadia and ChromeOS.
That is when we were pushed again into the loving arms of Valve and trusted companionship of Wine. Steam Play Proton has arrived. And with it? Support for thousands of Windows games, often right after their premieres. We could no longer count on porting studios but we could count on the company that made Linux their business over 20 years ago - CodeWeavers. And, as always, on ourselves. The community. Because it was yet again an enormous, valiant community effort that picked up Steam Play and carried it way beyond anyone’s expectations.
Look, I am not a doomsayer. But I am not an incurable optimist either. I think we all can admit that we progressed some, then regressed some. And then progressed again. It is true that the Linux gaming is right now in the best state it ever was. But Linux is still not easily available on gaming laptops worldwide. We are still less numerous than macOS users. And we are still hearing about games releasing on “PC”, and not “Windows and Linux”.
And that is how I am gonna begin this list. With a stalemate. The time of spectacular breakthroughs is over. And in 2021, I expect nothing ground-breaking to happen in the Linux gaming area.
- More seamless Steam Play
Just like I said, Steam Play is the hottest topic these days and for a damn good reason. Even I, the old “no tux no bucks” principle follower, spend more time in Windows games (made easily available thanks to Proton) than in Linux native games. But Steam Play capabilities have been expanded. Thanks to the commendable community work tools like Luxtorpeda, Boxtron and Roberta make it possible to use not only Proton to run Steam titles, but also ScummVM, DOSBox, OpenMW, ioquake3, Arx Libertatis and many more. After trying it out I am completely sold on the idea.
And the Proton itself? From month to month its compatibility and efficiency grows.
All of that makes it pretty clear that Steam Play still has a lot to offer. And in this year I want to see what else that will be. Perhaps it will not be a proper support from the nasty anti-cheat mechanisms, constantly locking out Linux gamers from multiplayer sessions in Fortnite and PUBG. But I am sure that it will be worth waiting for.
- Wayland gaming is a thing
Recently we have heard that NVIDIA is putting together final work towards supporting XWayland. The Wine project does not waste time either - Collabora has shared an update on this topic just days ago. Nearly 10% of GamingOnLinux users who participate on the website’s survey declared the use of a desktop Wayland session. Maybe you and your friends do not use it yet for gaming but I guarantee there will be someone on Reddit who does, sharing their experiences in the comments.
We might be waiting for Wayland for well over 10 years to truly introduce Linux displays into modern times. But it is happening and it is only a matter of time until all popular game engines and libraries stop depending on X server in their new releases.
Who knows? Perhaps 2021 will be the year for many major distributions (hi Ubuntu!) to push with new strength for that generational shift.
- Game development on Linux is becoming more viable
Thanks the unstoppable power of open source, Linux was always a safe shelter for tech geeks, programmers, developers. People always were and always will be developing games on Linux. This list, curated by Cheeseness confirms it: list.
For many years engines and frameworks such as Love2d, RenPy, Cocos2d, MonoGame, FNA, Cube, HaxeFlixel, Irrlicht, Kivy, Twine, Ogre3D, libGDX, Torque were the weapon of indie developers. But only quite recently this group was joined by the popular in the industry editors. The famous Unity Editor is pretty much THE game making tool, holding majority of the game development market by sheer game numbers. Defold and Godot also have quite a lot of Steam, Google Play and App Store titles. And there are others, like Stencyl, RPG Maker MV, GDevelop, Visual Novel Maker.
The super-seller Valheim proves one more thing: Linux is not just a platform for developing games, it is a platform for making commercially successful titles. There is more to come, I am sure.
- Cloud gaming on the rise
Like it or not, the gaming market’s latest craze are cloud gaming services. Big tech names: Microsoft, Google, Amazon are investing insane money in it. The streaming technology and the internet infrastructure around the world have matured a lot in the last decade. Many services, including Stadia, GeForce NOW, Shadow, Luna, Blacknut offer first class Linux support. So why not use it?
With to this technology, games otherwise unavailable even to Wine and Proton are playable right from the Linux desktop. In my case, they are, among many, Call of Duty: Warzone or Destiny 2.
If you are not convinced, you can easily give the streaming a go for free, by utilizing Steam Remote Play, Parsec, or Rainway.
James Ramey (President of Codeweavers):
- I predict that Linux gaming will experience its greatest growth for market share in 2021 (relative to the past 20 years). I believe that this growth will come at the direct expense of macOS. And while Linux gaming market share will not surpass macOS gaming market share in 2021, I predict that by the end of this year we will be able to extrapolate a time in the future when it likely will.
- I expect that more Linux distros dedicated (or centered on gaming) will come to market in 2021.
- I expect that a handful (5) of AAA titles will have native Linux versions upon release in 2021.
- I expect that it will be Linux gaming on Chromebooks (in the Linux partition) will replace Stadia in 2021.
- I expect that years from now people will look back at 2021 as the ‘Year of Linux Gaming’ in that much of where we will be 20 years from now can be traced back to this year.