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Valve starts push toward Linux gaming

PC game publisher Valve has upped the stakes on its move to bring a more robust gaming presence to Linux, advertising the Linux beta of its Steam distribution service directly to Windows-based gamers.

MORE VALVE: Valve's Steam Box controllers may use biometrics and gaze tracking

A splash screen on the "install Steam" page prominently features the well-known "Tux" mascot for Linux, and advertises the service's growing collection of Linux-compatible games. There's even a link to a download of Ubuntu 12.04.

Valve CEO Gabe Newell, a highly influential figure in the PC gaming community, has publicly castigated Windows 8 as a "catastrophe" for gamers, and has pushed his company toward Linux as an alternative platform.

"I think [users] are going to find that they hate [Windows 8]," Newell told GameTrailers.com in August. "I think they're going to basically rage-quit computing. ... Things that used to be incredibly simple are very complicated and hard."

In addition to porting titles over to Linux, Valve is experimenting with dedicated gaming hardware based on the open-source platform, and showed off potential "Steam Box" designs recently at CES 2013.

At the moment, Steam offers 43 titles for Linux, including popular multiplayer shooter Team Fortress 2. By contrast, however, the service has 1,870 games for Windows and 346 for Mac available. Windows has long been more or less the only platform of note where PC gaming is concerned, although a small but dedicated Linux gaming ecosystem has existed for some time. Gamers can also use a product called WINE as a compatibility layer for Linux to get Windows-based games to run on their systems, though this can sometimes be challenging for less-technical users.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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