You May Not Want To Use Linux For Gaming

With the Steam Deck imminent, I need to get something off my chest; namely, linux is not a viable platform for the majority of people who play video games. I will try to explain why I think this but first a preface; this does not mean I think linux is terrible for gaming. A lot of people enjoy what linux has to offer and the gaming experience has improved a lot in the past decade; but it is still not where it needs to be in order to give Windows any meaningful competition in the PC gaming experience.

The first reason I have for not recommending linux as a gaming platform is the reason I moved away from it and back to consoles. If you want the path of least resistence to playing your games, give linux a miss. There will inevitably be times where you need to tinker and troubleshoot just to make a game launch, never mind perform to an acceptable standard. PC gaming in general is like this (I remember having to edit a file in a hex editor on Windows to make a game work) but you can times the tinkering you have to do on Windows by 10 for linux. I would actually say the true path of least resistence is console but if you are bent on PC gaming stick with Windows. That being said if you actually enjoy tinkering then linux would be great for you.

This brings me nicely into my next reason, if your social circle is built around playing multiplayer games then give linux a miss. There is nothing worse than spending your limited gaming time with friends struggling to get a game working while they are busy having fun. That is inevitably going to happen. You will get an update to a driver or a crucial library that will break the game at that most inconvenient of time. Or Proton will update and introduce a regression that will stop a previously working game from working. Maybe the game itself will update and the compatibility will break. All these things have happened to me and I cannot express enough how frustrating it is when you are looking forward to a gaming session with some friends. Then there is the anti cheat conundrum where many multiplayer games just flat out refuse to work no matter what you do. Yes, EAC and BattlEye now have Proton compatibility but we have yet to see a big publisher enable it on their flagship titles so we have no idea how well it performs. Of course, if your friends are also on linux you can play the “let’s figure out what’s broken” game :)

The final reason is a more general reason why I have stopped recommending linux in general; a huge number of people that make up various linux and FOSS communities are extremely self sabotaging. Look some of the reaction to the recent LTT linux gaming challenge, many people in these communities don’t want to hear criticism of their beloved OS no matter how constructive. They want to live in an echo chamber where everything on linux is perfect even though it obviously is not. Windows isn’t even perfect for gaming, how can anyone think linux would be perfect? Many linux and FOSS users are also very mistrustful of anything proprietary or even open source if it comes from a source they don’t like even if it would progress the linux gaming experience. We need to get over that and adopt a more pragmatic approach if linux is to close the gap with Windows in terms of gaming viability.