Top 7 Predictions for Linux Gaming in 2021

Following yesterday’s piece about predictions for 2021 for the world of Linux Gaming, let’s have a second look by combining the predictions of all people involved in order to get a better picture. After all, if the wisdom of crowds holds true, the more often a prediction is made, the more likely it is to be correct (as long as the predictions are made independently).

1. EAC will be supported by Proton in 2021

This was one of the most popular predictions, with 6/15 mentioning it. However, two respondents thought it was unlikely that EAC would be working on Linux in 2021. We know the WINE developers have been working on redesigning WINE from the ground up for several years now to support this kind of capability. Whether this will actually make it in this year is still pretty much a wild guess at this stage.

2. Wayland will explode in 2021

After years of resistance by Nvidia to officially support Wayland, 2021 may be the year when things ease up a little and Wayland gains traction across the board – 5 of our respondents strongly believe in this possibility. If Nvidia announces anything beyond XWayland, things could change very rapidly in 2021, indeed. Or is 2021 too soon for such developments?

3. Linux will Gain Market Share on Steam in 2021

While the different respondents supporting this one vary in their estimation of the actual market share gains, they follow the same direction. On the other hand, I predicted the opposite, as in a stable Market Share around 1% at least in the course of 2021. Needless to say, if I happen to be wrong, I will be pretty happy about it!

4. There will be less and less native ports in 2021

While nobody was specifically asked to predict on that aspect, this came spontaneously from 4/15 respondents. It’s hard to argue for the opposite, since the trend has been fairly clear over the past couple of years, as shown by this graph below. Now, it’s entirely possible that something happens and breaks that trend – imagine that Valve tomorrow adds incentives for Linux ports? That could reverse the trend rapidly, at least for indie titles.

native ports over time on Linux

5. New Hardware from Valve / New SteamOS in 2021

Another popular prediction so far (4/15), while the details vary from one person to another. It makes logical sense: why would Valve spent so much resources and efforts on just 1% of the Market instead of conveniently ignoring it? Making Linux stronger is in line with having a platform they can use the day they decide to get back into having their own, truly independent platform. Such a platform would make more sense in 2021 now that Proton is a lot more mature.

Then again, maybe we are fooling ourselves and all the Linux efforts could remain as an insurance policy against bad actors (like Microsoft trying to lock things down)? After all, Gaben himself called Steam machines a “mistake”:

6. Proton’s compatibility will be more visible on Steam in 2021

3 respondents pointed to something along such line. It is certainly in the realm of possibilities. Valve has not whitelisted games for a while now, which may indicates they may be working on a different system to clarify if a game works out of the box with Proton on it. Could it be something akin to user-based feedback system, aggregating the experience of Linux users a la ProtonDB? Or some kind of automated checks that could be conducted in their testing farms using Machine Learning/AI? One way or another, it seems like a low hanging fruit to make Proton a lot more accessible and useful for newcomers.

7. Steam on ChromeOS leads the growth of Linux in 2021

3 respondents gravitate around that idea. To be honest, I am not sure what leads them to believe that ChromeOS will gain official Steam support in this year. Most ChromeOS devices are low-powered machines made for productivity rather than gaming, and they typically lack large storage usually required for games. But AndroidPolice previously heard from a Google Employee that it was indeed a project they were working on (in 2020).

ChromeBooks are indeed fairly popular and them being based on a Linux base would make them good candidates for a specific Steam Client. If they do, it could certainly drive the market share of Linux on Steam in a meaningful way, and help make prediction 3 a reality.

Of course, there were a lot more predictions made yesterday, about VR, Cloud Gaming, Epic, multi-store launchers, etc. But the 7 above seem to reach some kind of consensus, and they would certainly be first on the list to be tested as we reach the later parts of the year.

Place your bets!

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