In 2012, Microsoft released Windows 8 and their goal was two-fold. First, they wanted to compete in the tablet space, a space dominated by Apple’s iPad. Secondly, they wanted to create an ecosystem based around the Microsoft Store. Valve realized that Microsoft’s success in this category would threaten their entire business model, and so began their journey toward establishing itself as a platform rather than just a games client.
In 2013 they announced SteamOS, and by 2015 they were making a strong push into the console space with Steam Controller, Steam Link, and Steam Machines. While that effort didn’t see commercial success, Valve was not deterred. In 2018, they announced Proton, a compatibility layer that allows Windows games to run on Linux. The initiative has been gaining steam ever since, pun intended.
Proton has made enormous strides toward game compatibility through advances in related technologies like DXVK, which enable DirectX 9, 10, and 11 games to run through the Vulkan API. In fact, the project is so far along that Amazon has thrown its hat in the ring, working toward streaming Proton enabled games through Luna. The progress of this effort is updated all the time on ProtonDB, and today they crossed a major milestone as user reports on the site reveal that 80% of the top 100 games on Steam now run on Linux, and by extension, Steam Deck.
Games here are ranked using a medal system, similar to what’s been used over at WineDB for the last 20 years. If a game has a gold medal, you can expect it to run exactly like it does on Windows. This includes games like Microsoft Flight Simulator, No Man’s Sky, Back for Blood, Cookie Clicker, Dark Souls III, Stardew Valley, and more.
All in all, things are shaping up nicely for Valve. The Steam Deck is continually met with positive press and compatibility continues to improve. In fact, of the 21,244 games reported, 17,649 are reported to work so far.