If you’ve been listening to the rumblings from game developers, particularly Valve’s Gabe Newell, you’ll be familiar with the fact that many people in that industry see Windows 8 as a disaster. From complaints about the Windows Store being a push towards a closed software ecosystem, to complaints about the Windows 8 interface itself, there’s been plenty of good reasons given for PC gamers to shy away from the platform.
In light of this fact, Valve has begun work on a Linux version of their popular digital distribution platform, Steam. If you’re any sort of PC gamer, you’re probably familiar with Steam, as it’s the biggest digital games store in the world. It was originally available only on Windows, but has been on Mac for awhile now as well. Today, the beta version of Linux launches.
For now, it’s just a small closed beta of experienced Linux users who applied for the beta testing program. The only game included in the beta version is Team Fortress 2, though according to a report from Joystiq, there’s already 25 games on Steam that will work on Linux. Once the public version of Steam for Linux launches, all of those games (and probably a bunch more!) will undoubtedly become available.
The current beta only runs on the Ubuntu Linux distro, which has by far the biggest userbase among people who applied as testers. Valve will be looking to expand compatibility to other distros later on, but Ubuntu is the only option for the current closed beta.
Indie games have been flourishing on the Linux platform lately, and there’s plenty of reasons beyond Windows 8’s shortcomings for Steam to make its way onto the platform. Valve’s president, Gabe Newell, seemed excited about bringing Steam to another new platform, saying, “This is a huge milestone in the development of PC gaming. Steam users have been asking us to support gaming on Linux. We’re happy to bring rich forms of entertainment and our community of users to this open, customer-friendly platform.”