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To provide compatibility with a wide range of Windows-only games to all Linux users, a Beta version of the new and improved Steam Play is now available. It uses Proton, a modified distribution of Wine, to allow games which are exclusive to Windows to run on Linux and macOS operating systems.

Proton is an open source tool, allowing advanced users to alter the code to make their own local builds. The included improvements to Wine have been designed and funded by Valve, in a joint development effort with CodeWeavers.

In order to identify games that currently work great in this compatibility environment and solve the issues, if any, they are testing the entire Steam catalog. The list of games that they are enabling with this Beta release include: Beat Saber, Bejeweled 2 Deluxe, Doki Doki Literature Club!, DOOM, Fallout Shelter, FATE, FINAL FANTASY VI, and many more.

Using Steam Play the gamers can purchase the games once and play anywhere. Whether you have purchased your Steam Play enabled game on a Mac, Windows, or Linux, you will be able to play on the other platform free of charge.

What are the improvements introduced?

  • You can now install and run Windows games with no Linux version currently available, directly from the Linux Steam client, complete with native Steamworks and OpenVR support.
  • Improved game compatibility and reduced performance impact is facilitated by DirectX 11 and 12 whose implementations are now based on Vulkan.
  • The support for fullscreen games is improved allowing them to seamlessly stretch to the desired display without interfering with the native monitor resolution or requiring the use of a virtual desktop.
  • The support for game controller is improved enabling games to automatically recognize all controllers supported by Steam.
  • Improved performance for multi-threaded games as compared to vanilla Wine.

They have mentioned that there could be a performance difference for games where graphics API translation is required, but there is no fundamental reason for a Vulkan title to run any slower.

You can find out more about the Stream Play Beta, the full list of supported games, and how Proton works in the Steam post.

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