Extraterrestrials deserve to die on every computing platform.
Linux gamers will finally get their chance to fight off an alien invasion thanks to XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Publisher 2K Games and developer Firaxis are enlisting the help of studio Feral Interactive to bring the tactical strategy game to the open-source operating system. Feral is working on the port right now, and it expects to release it this summer. This is the latest established triple-A game to make the leap from traditional gaming platforms to Linux, which may help with developer Valve’s battle to establish an open PC alternative to Windows.
XCOM will debut specifically for a branch of Linux called Ubuntu, but it should also work for SteamOS since both are based on the same underlying software. SteamOS is developer Valve’s version of Linux that it built for living-room PCs and comes bundles with the Steam Machine console-like gaming rigs. This makes for another big-name game that works with Linux, but it is also once again an older title.
2K Games debuted XCOM: Enemy Unknown for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 in 2012. It’s a reboot of the classic PC franchise that has gamers researching technology and fighting off aliens in small, turn-based skirmishes. The release received numerous accolades, and Firaxis supported it with additional content as well as a port to Mac. In June, 2K released an iOS port that sells for $10, and XCOM finally made the leap to Android last month.
For the Linux version, Feral plans to release all of the downloadable content. That includes the major Enemy Within expansion. Naturally, if you already own XCOM: Enemy Unknown for PC or Mac on Steam, you’ll automatically have access to the Linux release when it goes live.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is $30 on Steam right now.
SteamOS is one of Valve’s plays to create a space in PC gaming that does not rely on Microsoft’s Windows platform. Valve release it in December, but it’s still in an early phase — one that is mostly devoid of software.
Very few major games have made the jump to Linux as Windows has dominated the PC-gaming space since the 1990s. While XCOM will join hits like the Valve puzzler Portal and Double Fine adventure release Broken Age, most publishers do not invest in ports to the open OS.
Last week, developer CD Projekt Red released its fantasy role-playing game The Witcher 2 for Linux. That game and XCOM are perhaps proof that some companies are slowly warming to the idea of releasing their games on Linux and SteamOS, but it is also likely an experiment. 2K and CD Projekt Red maybe want to see if their games catch on with a new audience, and then who knows — maybe we’ll get a SteamOS version of Civilization: Beyond Earth and The Witcher 3 at the same time as their Windows launches.