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Not even a decade ago, native gaming on Linux Linux Gaming, an Overview: What You Can And Can't Expect Linux Gaming, an Overview: What You Can And Can't Expect While desktop Linux may be a tempting platform, there's one thing stopping a lot of people from making the plunge: PC gaming. Like it or not, Windows is the de facto platform for PC gaming.... Read More was barely a conceivable reality save for a few open source cross-platform games 8 Awesome Free Open-Source Games You Can Enjoy On Windows, Mac and Linux 8 Awesome Free Open-Source Games You Can Enjoy On Windows, Mac and Linux Read More . Today, it’s clear that the “no games on Linux” myth is dead 5 Lies Linux-Haters Like To Tell 5 Lies Linux-Haters Like To Tell Linux may have been a scary operating system before, but all of that has changed in recent years. These myths, which are more accurately called lies, are now dead. Read More .

Sure, hardcore gamers will probably still choose Windows over Linux Should I Use Linux Or Windows? 3 Deal-Breaker Questions You MUST Answer Should I Use Linux Or Windows? 3 Deal-Breaker Questions You MUST Answer Linux. Windows. We aren't here to tell you which one is better; rather, we're here to help you decide which one is better for you. Read More , but there’s more than enough evidence that many high-quality games can be played on Linux, and the number of available games is just going to keep increasing.

The hard part is knowing which games work on Linux and finding them for digital download. Fortunately, there are a few services you can use to make the whole process more convenient on your end.

Steam

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Steam is the frontrunner platform for digitally downloading PC games. I still remember when Steam first debuted and nearly everyone screamed about how much it sucked and that it had no future. Well, look where we are now.

It’s great that Valve is embracing the Linux environment. In fact, they’re even going as far as developing a Linux distro dedicated to gaming Is SteamOS a Good Choice for a Gaming System? Is SteamOS a Good Choice for a Gaming System? Can you rely solely on SteamOS with good performance, or should you still keep that dual-boot with Windows? Let's take a look. Read More . Linux users don’t have many champions in the gaming industry, so Valve deserves some respect for this.

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First things first, you’ll have to install Steam on Linux How to Install Steam and Start Gaming on Linux How to Install Steam and Start Gaming on Linux Installing Steam on Linux computers is straightforward, and the result is usually the same seamless gaming experience you had on Windows. Read More . It’s actually not that painful of a process and you’ll be up and ready to go within just a few minutes. Then, you can either use the Steam interface itself or hop on over to the online Steam store to browse the selection of games. Be sure to filter the database by “Linux platform” to only see the games you’re able to install.

At the time of writing this, there are 2790 games and software under the Linux filter. If you’re only interested in games, that number still sits at a healthy 1447 games. But if you cut it down to free games only, you’re left with 66.

But those numbers are always on the rise, and as far as gaming on Linux is concerned, Steam is definitely the best place to start — it’s even better than using Wine Using Wine to Play Games On Linux? Here's Why You Should Switch To Steam Right Now Using Wine to Play Games On Linux? Here's Why You Should Switch To Steam Right Now In the last couple of months, Steam has been getting a lot of attention. Not necessarily because of the games that it's been carrying, but because of its expanding support of different operating systems. If... Read More .

Hint: Improve your Steam experience with these lesser-known Steam tips 8 Things You Didn't Know About Steam 8 Things You Didn't Know About Steam Steam started out as an annoying program that came with Half-Life 2, but it’s grown into the PC game store of choice for most PC gamers. Although some people aren’t fans and prefer alternative stores,... Read More and these Steam client secrets 5 Secrets Of The Steam Client That You Should Be Using 5 Secrets Of The Steam Client That You Should Be Using Are you sure that you're getting the most out of your Steam client? If you aren't careful, there are some really useful features and tools that you could be looking over. Read More .

GOG

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As far as digital games distribution is concerned, Steam has no peers. Many consider GOG (formerly Good Old Games) to be an alternative to Steam, but even so, it’s not even in the same league in terms of popularity or number of games available.

It wasn’t until mid-2014 that GOG even supported Linux at all, and when we look at how that support was implemented, it turns out most of those games just run using Wine anyway. However, that doesn’t mean GOG is bad.

GOG is great. It loses to Steam in a handful of areas, but GOG’s customer support is lightyears ahead of Steam’s customer support — which is so lackluster that it seems disingenuous to call it “support” at all — and this reason alone could be enough to consider GOG the superior service.

Two features distinguish GOG from all other games distribution platforms. First, all of its games are free from DRM restrictions What Is DRM & Why Does It Exist If It's So Evil? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is DRM & Why Does It Exist If It's So Evil? [MakeUseOf Explains] Digital Rights Management is the latest evolution of copy protection. It’s the biggest cause of user frustration today, but is it justified? Is DRM a necessary evil in this digital age, or is the model... Read More . Second, its prices are some of the lowest you’ll see (except during Steam sales 5 Ways To Make Sure You Get The Best Deals On Steam Games 5 Ways To Make Sure You Get The Best Deals On Steam Games Steam is known for being super convenient for managing one’s video game library, and it’s also useful in a few other ways, but did you know that with a bit of effort you can obtain... Read More and Humble Bundles Looking for Great Games at Pauper Prices? Score Some Game Bundles Looking for Great Games at Pauper Prices? Score Some Game Bundles Read More ).

Of GOG’s database of 1216 games, there are 331 games that will work without any hassle on most Linux machines — a fraction of Steam’s offerings, but certainly not a pittance. Ideally, you should buy games on GOG if they’re available, otherwise look on Steam.

Itch.io

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Itch.io is a newcomer to digital distribution, but it has surged in popularity over the last year or so. Why? Because it makes it incredibly easy for indie developers to publish their games, create product pages, and earn revenue.

Ethically speaking, Itch.io is one of the best platforms due to their “open revenue sharing” business model. Developers get to choose what percentage of each transaction goes to Itch.io, whether that’s 0%, 10%, or even 50%.

So is it surprising to find that Itch.io’s database contains 18,453 games and counting? What’s even more surprising is that 3,020 games are available to play on Linux, and all of their games are DRM-free.

The one downside to Itch.io is that it’s almost entirely comprised of indie games. This isn’t an inherently bad thing — indie games are quite good these days 10 Indie Games So Good, You’ll Forget They’re Indie At All 10 Indie Games So Good, You’ll Forget They’re Indie At All There may be times, however, where you want something different from the indie norm. A game that follows indie values, yet is made with the quality that top-shelf AAA games are known for. Titles like... Read More — but don’t expect to find games like The Witcher, Bloodborne, or even Splatoon here.

Desura

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Like Itch.io, Desura is mainly known as a publishing platform for indie developers. It used to be a viable alternative to Steam 4 Digital Distribution Gaming Clients You Might Like More Than Steam [MUO Gaming] 4 Digital Distribution Gaming Clients You Might Like More Than Steam [MUO Gaming] Although we've been taught to worship anything Steam's Gabe Newell pushes out at us, it's very important to remember that you have other options to explore. I won't argue that anything beats Steam's annual sale... Read More , but news broke of potential bankruptcy in mid-2015 and it’s still too early to tell if Desura will collapse for good.

However, for as long as Desura remains standing, it remains a good source of games for those on Linux.

Of the 3,103 games available, 761 games can be played on Linux, and not all of them are purely indie. Amnesia, Mount & Blade, and Postal 2 are some examples of high-profile games that you can purchase through Desura.

Desura is the sister site to two other places where you can find new games to play: IndieDB and ModDB. The former is all about indie games currently in development while the latter covers modifications to popular games.

GamersGate

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GamersGate celebrates its 15th year in business this year, which is a bit shocking because most of the gamers I know actually haven’t heard of this site before.

In comparison to a lot of other digital distribution platforms, GamersGate doesn’t have much of a unique spin. It has a lot of games, which is good, and they’re all available at fair price points, which is also good, but ultimately it’s “yet another place to download games”.

Out of 6,310 total games, 506 games are available for Linux. The good news is that most of these games are not indie titles that random people have uploaded from their basements. Civilization V, Borderlands 2, and BioShock Infinite sit among the top sellers right now.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t any indie games here. Stealth Bastards, Hotline Miami 2, and Dungeon Defenders are selling well here, too.

Lutris

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Lutris is an open source games manager that prioritizes free and open source games, which naturally makes it a perfect fit for the Linux gaming community. Like Steam, it’s a downloadable client that manages all of your games using one clean interface.

What’s great about Lutris is that it can manage and launch all manner of games — even ones purchased through Steam or Desura.

Just to be clear, Lutris doesn’t sell or distribute games, but it is a great tool for finding new games to play. The website includes a list of recommended open source games that can be run without much hassle through the Lutris client along with download links for each game.

In short, the list includes 252 games that are compatible with Linux and 56 of them are free in one way or another. It’s a great tool and we recommend all avid Linux gamers to support Lutris in some way, even if that means just using the program regularly.

Linux Gaming Is Growing

While there might be plenty of differences between Windows and Linux 7 Key Differences Between Windows & Linux You Should Know About Before Switching 7 Key Differences Between Windows & Linux You Should Know About Before Switching Read More , “ability to play games” is slowly but surely being knocked off that list. Developers like Valve are starting to see Linux as an important platform, and we’ve only seen the beginning.

If the above digital distribution services aren’t enough for you, check out these websites for finding free Linux games Top 4 Websites To Discover Free Linux Games Top 4 Websites To Discover Free Linux Games We (as in Linux users) have all wished that some of those popular games we see in commercials would be readily available for Linux. Finding good, native games for Linux can be a bit tricky.... Read More to cap off your collection.

Linux gamers, which distribution services do you like the best? Were there any that we missed? How do you install and manage your library of games? Share with us in the comments below!

  1. Michael Tunnell
    August 30, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Humble Bundle is also a good source for getting games and you do not have to worry about paying attention to all of the Bundles because they now have the Humble Bundle Store. - https://www.humblebundle.com/store

    • Joel Lee
      September 2, 2015 at 5:20 pm

      Thanks Michael! I totally forgot that Humble Bundle has a store, which is embarrassing because I've bought a few games from there before.

  2. Matthew Hughes
    August 30, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    You forgot one really big one: The repositories themselves. Some of the games they have are actually surprisingly decent, like Warsow and Wesnoth.

    • Joel Lee
      September 2, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      Yeah, good point! I just installed Ubuntu MATE (thanks for the nudge, Michael) and was surprised to see how many games were on the package manager right off the bat. It could be better, but it's pretty good anyway.

      • Mihir Patkar
        September 2, 2015 at 5:41 pm

        Stop telling Matty he's making good points, Joel. Don't feed the beast.

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