After topping 700 Linux games back in October, Steam now offers over 1000 games for Linux and those upcoming Steam Machines. And all that software's getting some hardware to match: Steam Machines themselves appear to be back with a vengeance, in spite of Origin PC's CEO recently saying the Steam Machine name was "dead." They'll ship with Valve's Linux-based SteamOS, and all the delays mean more native Linux games will be available when Steam Machines finally launch.
1005 games and counting
At the moment, there are 1005 games that support Linux and SteamOS on Steam. That's out of 4817 total games for all platforms on Steam, or 20.8% of all the games on Steam. And that's just games--not DLC items, software, demos, or trailers. But, if you expand the search to include everything, there's 1856 items in the Linux + SteamOS category.
It's a solid start when no Steam Machines have actually shipped yet, and when only about 1 percent of Steam's users are actually using Steam on Linux. After all, Steam Machines will be competing with consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, which also don't have the most massive back catalog of games, either.
If Valve can convince developers to support SteamOS and Linux going forward, that's the most important thing--not migrating all of Steam's massive back catalog to SteamOS. Those old games can always be played on a Windows computer and streamed to a TV with Steam in-home streaming, whether you have a Steam Link box or a dedicated Steam Machine.
Big-name games are coming to Linux--and SteamOS
Valve is convincing more and more developers to support SteamOS and Linux going forward. The recent SteamOS sale on Steam was a statement of intent for Valve, showing that they're committed to SteamOS and promoting the games on it. It's likely most of the people buying those SteamOS games will just play them on Windows--but Valve offered extra promotion for these games on the Steam storefront, and that extra promotion on Steam can be a carrot they dangle in front of game developers.
The sale included big-name games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, Batman: Arkham Knight, Dying Light, Metro Redux, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Transistor, Payday 2, and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. It's not just that older, popular games are being ported to Linux after they're released. New games like The Witcher 3 and Batman: Arkham Knight are announcing SteamOS and Linux support before they're ever released.
But don't take my word for it: Here are 25 killer, big-name games that now call Linux home. And they're all games you can buy and play today.
If Steam Machines can keep the momentum up, they could have a serious shot of taking on consoles. It's not just about Linux vs. Windows--it's about PCs vs. PlayStation.
As today's next-gen consoles become older and older, Steam Machines will offer more powerful hardware for less money every year. With the same games releasing on both SteamOS and consoles, Steam Machines will be the place to be for the best graphical quality and performance in the living room. And Steam Machines also make it easy to play games with your friends who game on PCs, and play the same games on your PC or in your living room--no tricks like Microsoft's one-way Xbox streaming to Windows 10 PCs.
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Now Valve just has to ship all those Steam Machines they announced. They're not scheduled to launch until November, 2015, so we have quite a wait left to go. But all those rumors about SteamOS's imminent demise look exaggerated, and it's good to see SteamOS--and Linux gaming in general--showing some life again.