Valve officially revealed that they are planning to bring their Steam distribution service to the Linux platform via an Ubuntu port. In a new blog on the Valve web site, it was revealed that a team of eleven people have been working on “strengthen[ing] the gaming scene on Linux for both players and developers” and that work began on bringing the Steam client back in 2011.
Valve has remained tight lipped so far on when Linux users can expect to see Steam on their systems but are reassured in knowing that Valve is currently refining the software. The team aims to have the Steam client on Linux with full functionality, a version of Left 4 Dead 2 running at a high frame rate with OpenGL, and ports of other Valve titles. The blog itself is a medium that will track the progress of the Linux team in their development efforts.
On the topic of their progress, the company said:
“The goal of the Steam client project is a fully-featured Steam client running on Ubuntu 12.04. We’ve made good progress this year and now have the Steam client running on Ubuntu with all major features available.
“Since the Steam client isn’t much without a game, we’re also porting L4D2 to Ubuntu. This tests the game-related features of the Steam client, in addition to L4D2 gameplay on Ubuntu.”
The software will be available on the latest version of Ubuntu, version 12.04. As of right now, Valve is focusing on a single deployment environment, but they’re willing to consider expanding into other supporting avenues if their efforts with Ubuntu prove successful. Valve outlines why Ubuntu was chosen in their blog post:
“Why Ubuntu? There are a couple of reasons for that. First, we’re just starting development and working with a single distribution is critical when you are experimenting, as we are. It reduces the variability of the testing space and makes early iteration easier and faster. Secondly, Ubuntu is a popular distribution and has recognition with the general gaming and developer communities. This doesn’t mean that Ubuntu will be the only distribution we support. Based on the success of our efforts around Ubuntu, we will look at supporting other distributions in the future.”
Analysis: The day Mac owners got a working version of Steam was one I celebrated, and I’m glad my Linux brothers will be joining our ranks. Until this point, Linux owners have had to resort to dual booting with Windows for any video game fix they might need. This came with a whole assortment of issues, including capability, bugs, and so on and so forth. It was an achievement in itself that you could get a game running as well as it did on its primary Windows counterpart, but it appears this may no longer be an issue.
But how much will this pay off for Valve? Essentially, is there a big enough demand for an Ubuntu port of Steam for Linux owners to warrant the work needed to get it done? I actually happen to think so. Remember that Humble Indie Bundle that came along and happened to be utterly amazing not so long ago? If you take a gander at the average payments made, you’ll notice that Linux owners paid almost $5 more than Windows owners and about $2.50 more than Mac owners. Now, given that a significantly lower amount of people purchased it for Linux instead of Windows and Mac, there is definitely a demand for it. Even if it doesn’t turn out to be the best financial decision, it pleases quite a number of people and creates a bunch of good press for Valve.
News that is just good, no matter which way you look at it, has become harder to come by lately in an industry full of bad DRM, shady business models, and greedy publishers. But checking my computer to see this news landing on my lap has brought a smile to my face, and for the rest of the day, I don’t think anything could put a dampener on my current mood.