Valve isn’t the only PC-gaming company with a digital-distribution service that’s improving its support for Linux.
GOG.com, the online game store that sells new and classic PC games without digital-rights management, is debuting a number of games that work with the open-source operating system Linux today. The company previously announced plans to introduce support for Linux in 100 games by fall, but it went live today with more than 50 games already operational on the OS. This includes newer releases as well as old shooters that originally only worked on Microsoft’s DOS.
GOG.com, a wing of The Witcher developer CD Projekt Red, is part of an informal alliance of PC studios and publishers looking to provide an alternative to Windows OS, which dominates gaming on PC. GOG.com and Steam proprietor Valve are both hoping to shift gamers to Linux by making older games compatible with it while they also plan to release their newest games for Linux and Windows simultaneously.
CD Projekt Red will release its next major game, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, on Linux at the same time as its Windows and console release Feb. 24.
“GOG.com has put in some serious work,” reads the company’s press release. “As promised in their announcement earlier this year, the team has just leveled up on its quest to bring all gamers together: welcome, Linux community. It’s still summer, and over 50 of the 100 games GOG.com promised for Autumn are already here! Additionally, 23 of those titles are officially Linux-compatible for the first time ever thanks to GOG-made custom builds and the hard work of its cracking team of testers.”
Game makers and publishers are seeking an alternative to Windows because of fears that Microsoft will lock down the experience in a “walled garden.” In July 2012, Valve chief executive officer Gabe Newell called Windows 8 a “catastrophe” due to its Windows Store. He sees that as the potential precursor to Microsoft shifting away from an open model that enables anyone to install anything on their personal computers.
GOG.com will officially support the Ubuntu and Mint builds of Linux, which are two of the most popular forks of the software. This means that if you are running Ubuntu or Mint, you can get an easy installer directly from GOG.com that should have you playing quickly. People running other versions of Linux are not out of luck. The site will also provide the base Linux archives for each game so that anyone on the platform can play.
Adventure game Kentuck Route Zero, high-seas simulator Pirates! Gold Plus, and twitchy reflex-tester Super Hexagon are all available on Linux through GOG.com. Of course, if you already own any of these through the site, you can go ahead and download the Linux versions.
“Diversity and freedom of choice have always been an important part of the GOG.com way,” reads the company’s blog. “We’re very glad that we could improve our service with the addition of the free — and DRM-free — alternative to the commercial operating systems.”
While GOG.com and Steam now both offer Linux games, most PC releases are Windows only with the occasional support for Apple’s Mac. Selling older and smaller games on Linux may convince some people to play games on that OS, but Valve is also hoping to facilitate the shift by introducing its Linux-based SteamOS platform and the console-like PCs that run it, called Steam Machines. Those devices are due out in 2015 — although anyone can download and install SteamOS on any PC right now.