Linux gaming refers to playing and developing video games for the Linux operating system, as an expansion of desktop Linux, involving a Linux kernel–based operating system for the typical home computer used for surfing, office applications and additionally for gaming.
- 1 Market share vs. installed base
- 2 Supported hardware
- 3 Software architecture
- 4 Adoption by game engines
- 5 Adoption by video games
- 5.1 Free and open-source games
- 5.2 Proprietary games
- 5.3 Game porters
- 5.4 Other developers
- 5.5 Commercial games for non-x86 instruction sets
- 5.6 Source ports
- 5.7 Massively multiplayer online role-playing games
- 6 History
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Market share can be estimated based on sales numbers, e. g. during Q2 2013, 79.3% of smartphones sold worldwide were running Android. When discussing free and open-source software, the term "installed base" seems rather popular. It is installation, not embedment or pre-installation, that tailors a product to the owner's personal needs. Unfortunately, installed base, as opposed to market share, proves to be a tricky thing to gauge.
Surveys conducted by software such as Ubuntu Software Center or Steam can only tell about the "installed base" of a particular program or version or hardware, only on the machines on which the digital distribution software is already installed.
As of March 2014, Steam reports that less than 1.2% of users are using some form of Linux as their platforms primary operating system.
Linux as gaming platform can also refer to operating systems based on the Linux kernel and specifically designed for the sole purpose of gaming. Examples are SteamOS, which is an operating system for Steam Machines and computers, video game consoles built from components found in the classical home computer, (embedded) operating systems like Tizen and Pandora, and handheld game consoles like GP2X, Nintendo 3DS and Neo Geo X. The Nvidia Shield runs Android as an operating system, which is based on a modified Linux kernel.
The Linux kernel has been ported to numerous instruction sets and platforms; where the middleware has not been ported, new middleware was written. Where the most parts were released under the GNU GPL, which is a strong copyleft license, these platforms have remained open for everybody. The achievable performance when running a game on top of the Linux kernel with the available device drivers is the only limit.
The openness of the Linux software platform will always keep the door open for x86 and ARM competitors such as MIPS and others to design and sell a hardware platform, or various peripherals. As an example, Oculus Rift, which is an upcoming virtual reality head-mounted display, supports the Linux gaming platform.
When employing current (27 October 2013) proprietary Linux drivers from Nvidia respectively AMD, the real-world performance of games running on Linux is mostly comparable with them running on Windows 8.1. It is mostly software engineers and programmers who further compare the performance of these proprietary drivers with the performance of the available free and open-source graphics device drivers.
Intel is known for distributing their graphics drivers only as free and open-source software for all operating systems they support. Compared to the AMD APUs, Intel dedicates much less die-surface to the GPU.
The article free and open-source graphics device driver should mention all existing designers of graphics accelerator SIP, for the existing support for Linux and the achieved performance under Linux please see there.
An operating system based on the Linux kernel and customized specifically for gaming, could adopt the vanilla Linux kernel with only little changes, or—like the Android (operating system)—be based on a relative extensively modified Linux kernel. It could adopt GNU C Library or Bionic or something like it. The entire middleware or parts of it, could very well be closed-source and proprietary software; the same is true for the video games. There are free and open-source video games available for the Linux operating system, as well as proprietary ones.
The subsystems already mainlined and available in the Linux kernel are most probably performant enough so to not impede the gaming experience in any way, however additional software is available, such as e.g. the Brain Fuck Scheduler (a process scheduler) or the Budget Fair Queueing scheduler (an I/O scheduler).
Similar to the way the Linux kernel can be, for example, adapted to run better on supercomputers, there are adaptations targeted at improving the performance of games. A project concerning itself with this issue is called Liquorix.
Available software for video game designers
Several game development tools have been available for Linux, including GNU Debugger, LLDB, Valgrind, glslang and others. VOGL, a debugger for OpenGL was released on 12 March 2014. See also Game Editor, APITrace and GtkRadiant. AMD CodeXL.
Available interfaces and SDKs
There are a couple of interfaces and Software Development Kits available for Linux, almost all of them are cross-platform. Most are free and open-source software subject to the terms of the zlib License, making it possible to static link against them from fully closed-source proprietary software. One difficulty due to this abundance of interfaces, is the difficulty for programmers to choose best suitable the audio API for their purpose. The main developer of the PulseAudio project, Lennart Poettering, commented on this issue. Physics engines, audio libraries, that are available as modules for game engines, have been available for Linux for a long time.
The book Programming Linux Games covers a couple of the available APIs suited for video game development for Linux, while The Linux Programming Interface covers the Linux kernel interfaces in much greater detail.
|SDL||zlib License||C||C++?||C#, Pascal, Python||EGL, Xlib, GLX?||GDI, Direct3D||Quartz, Core OpenGL?||PSP-stuff||a low-level cross-platform abstraction layer
Game Development with SDL 2.0 on YouTube
|SFML||zlib License||C++||C, D, Python, Ruby, OCaml, .Net, Go||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ClanLib||zlib License||C++||Python, Lua, Ruby||Yes||Yes||N/A||N/A|
|GLFW||zlib License||C||N/A||Ada, C#, Common Lisp, D, Go, Haskell, Java, Python, Rebol, Red, Ruby, Rust||Yes||Yes||Yes||GLFW is a small C library that lets you create and manage windows with OpenGL contexts, enumerate monitors and video modes as well as handle inputs such as keyboard, mouse, joystick, clipboard and time.
|Allegro||zlib License||C||Yes||Yes||Yes||Android, iOS|
|Grapple||LGPL-2.1+||C||Yes||Yes||Yes||Grapple is designed to be a simple network layer, allowing the addition of multiplayer features to a game (or other application) for as little as a dozen lines of code. However it is also fully featured, so if you want more from your networking, you can have it. Try their demos: http://demos.linuxgamepublishing.com/|
|RakNet||3-clause BSD||C++||C++, C#||N/A||Yes||Yes||Yes||PlayStation 3, iOS, ...||game network engine for multi-player|
|OpenPlay||APSL||C||Yes||Yes||Yes||N/A||networking library authored by Apple Inc.|
|Nvidia GameWorks||Proprietary||unknown||WIP||Yes||N/A||N/A||As the result of their cooperation with Valve, Nvidia announced a Linux port of GameWorks. As of June 2014, PhysX, and OptiX have been available for Linux for some time.|
|Pygame||LGPL-2.1||Python||Yes||Yes||Yes||build over SDL|
Beside majority of the software which acts as an interface to various subsystems of the operating system, there is also software which can be simply described as middleware. A multitude of companies exist worldwide, whose main or only product is software that is meant to be licensed and integrated into a game engine. Their primary targets is the video game industry, but the film industry also utilizes such software for special effects. Some very few well known examples are
- classical physics: Havok, Newton Game Dynamics and PhysX
- audio: Audiokinetic Wwise, FMOD
- other: SpeedTree
A significant share of the available middleware already runs natively on Linux, only a very few run exclusively on Linux.
Available IDEs and source code editors
Microsoft Visual Studio is not available for Linux.
A multi-monitor setup is supported on Linux at least by AMD Eyefinity & AMD Catalyst, Xinerama and RandR on both X11 and Wayland. Serious Sam 3: BFE is one example of a game that runs natively on Linux and supports very high resolutions and is validated by AMD to support their Eyefinity. Civilization V is another example, it even runs on a "Kaveri" desktop APU in 3x1 portrait mode.
Voice over IP
The specifications of the Mumble protocol are freely available and there are BSD-licensed implementations for both servers and clients. The positional audio API of Mumble is supported by e.g. Cube 2: Sauerbraten.
Wine is a compatibility layer that provides binary compatibility and makes it possible to run software, that was written and compiled for Microsoft Windows, on Linux. The Wine project hosts a user-submitted application database (known as Wine AppDB) that lists programs and games along with ratings and reviews which detail how well they run with Wine. Wine AppDB also has a commenting system, which often includes instructions on how to modify a system to run a certain game which cannot run on a normal or default configuration.
Many games are rated as running flawlessly, and there are also many other games that can be run with varying degrees of success. The use of Wine for gaming has proved controversial in the Linux community as some feel it is preventing, or at least hindering, the further growth of native gaming on the platform.
There are numeral Emulators for Linux, a list: There are also APIs, virtual machines, and machine emulators that provide binary compatibility:
- Basilisk II for the 68040 Macintosh;
- DOSBox and DOSEMU for MS-DOS/PC DOS and compatibles;
- DeSmuME for the Nintendo DS;
- Dolphin for the Nintendo GameCube, Wii, and the Triforce;
- FCE Ultra, Nestopia and TuxNES for the Nintendo Entertainment System;
- Frotz for Z-Machine text adventures;
- Hatari for the Atari ST, STe, TT and Falcon;
- gnuboy for the Nintendo Game Boy and Game Boy Color;
- MAME for arcade games;
- Mednafen and Xe emulating multiple hardware platforms including some of the above;
- Mupen64Plus and the no longer actively developed original Mupen64 for the Nintendo 64;
- PCSX-Reloaded, pSX and the Linux port of ePSXe for the PlayStation One;
- PCSX2 for the PlayStation 2;
- ScummVM for LucasArts and various other adventure games;
- SheepShaver for the PowerPC Macintosh;
- Snes9x, higan and ZSNES for the Super Nintendo;
- UAE for the Amiga;
- VICE for the Commodore 64;
- ColEm for the 8-bit masterpiece, Colecovision;
- VisualBoy Advance for the Game Boy Advance;
- vMac for the 680x0 Macintosh;
Linux homebrew on consoles
Linux has been ported to several game consoles, including the Xbox, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, GameCube, and Wii which allows game developers without an expensive game development kit to access console hardware. Several gaming peripherals also work with Linux.
Adoption by game engines
The game engine is the software, i.e. some algorithms, solely responsible for the game mechanics. Thus there are completely different game engines for First-person shooters, strategy video games, etc.
Besides the game mechanics we also need software to do calculations regarding graphics, audio, video, physics, vegetation, input-handling, you name it. Computer games are considered to be among the most complex software there is!
- Graphics: for FPS e.g., game mechanics calculates with vector data and 3D polygon mesh data. This 3D data needs to be transformed into a picture that can be sent to the computer monitor. This is called rendering. Well known rendering techniques used in computer games are rasterisation and (real-time) ray tracing. The software doing the rendering is called the rendering engine. The rendering is software completely distinct form the game engine. It augments the game engine, but since almost any computer games are played via Monitor, a rendering engine is obligate. And since it can be much more difficult to program an efficient rendering engine that some game engine, instead of pairing game engines with rendering engines, it is done the other way around.
- Audio: 3D audio effect and other techniques require calculations as well. Software doing such calculations, could be called the "audio engine". E.g. FMOD is software doing this. SoundRenderer as well but not for computer games.
- Other software augmenting the game engine, the most common term is game engine middleware.
- a physics engine is definitely NOT a game engine and cannot be considered to be such. It is a potential augmentation, that can be incorporated by a game engine. A well-known one is Havok.
- various: e.g. SpeedTree is middleware solely concerned with trees, and Euphoria is middleware solely concerned with human body mechanics
- game editor: software to create the game levels and other game elements can be distinct such as e.g. GtkRadiant or heavily interwoven with the game engine.
Software such as CryEngine, that can be licensed, is much more than just a game engine. It is rather a software suite, that includes most of the above-mentioned software and more. And when it is licensed by some 3rd party, the code for the "game engine", is probably the one being adjusted the most! CryEngine has more in common with an integrated development environment (IDE) or a software development kit (SDK) than with a mere "game engine"!
Game engines that are used by current video games and run on top of Linux include:
- Epic Games: Unreal Engine 1, Unreal Engine 2, Unreal Engine 4
- Crytek: CryEngine
- Id Software: Id Tech 1, Id Tech 2, Id Tech 3, Id Tech 4, and Id Tech 5. (Quake Army Knife)
- Unigine Corp: Unigine
- Valve: Source Engine
- Leadwerks Engine
Adoption by video games
There are many free and open-source video games as well as commercially distributed proprietary video games that run natively on Linux. Some independent companies have also begun porting prominent video games from Microsoft Windows to Linux.
Free and open-source games
A few original open source video games have attained notability:
- 0 A.D. is a real-time strategy game of ancient warfare, similar to Age of Empires.
- AssaultCube is a first-person shooter.
- AstroMenace is a 3D scroll-shooter.
- BZFlag is a 3D First person tank shooter (With jumping).
- Battle for Wesnoth is a turn-based strategy game.
- Blob Wars: Metal Blob Solid is a 2D platform game.
- Chromium B.S.U. is a fast paced, arcade-style, top-scrolling space shooter.
- CodeRED: Alien Arena is a sci-fi first-person shooter derived from the Quake II engine.
- Crimson Fields is a turn-based tactical wargame.
- Cube 2: Sauerbraten is a 3D first-person shooter with an integrated map editing mode.
- Glest is a real-time strategy game, with optional multiplayer.
- NetHack and Angband are text-based computer role-playing games.
- Netrek is a Star Trek themed multiplayer 2D space battle game.
- Nexuiz is a first-person shooter. Although, this has been replaced by Xonotic.
- Project: Starfighter a multi-directional, objective based shoot-em-up.
- Slingshot two-person spaceship shooting near planetary gravity.
- TORCS (The Open Racing Car Simulator) – considered one of the best open-source racing simulators, with realistic graphics and vehicle handling.
- Tremulous is a 3D first-person shooter/real-time strategy game.
- Tux Racer is a 3D racing game featuring Tux.
- Urban Terror is a standalone Quake III Arena first-person shooter. (Proprietary mod).
- Vega Strike is a space flight simulation.
- Warsow is a Quake-like, fast-paced first-person shooter.
Clones and remakes
There are a larger number of open source clones and remakes of classic games:
- FreeCiv is a clone of Civilization II.
- FreeOrion is inspired by Master of Orion.
- Frets on Fire is a clone of Guitar Hero.
- Frozen Bubble is a clone of Puzzle Bobble.
- Grid Wars is a clone of Geometry Wars.
- Head Over Heels, a ZX-Spectrum action platformer, was remade for Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, and BeOS.
- Hedgewars is a clone of Worms. Worms replaced with hedgehogs.
- Minetest is a free and open-source C++ clone of Minecraft with mods.
- OpenClonk is a free and open-source remake of Clonk.
- OpenTTD is a remake of Transport Tycoon Deluxe.
- OpenXcom is a clone of UFO: Enemy Unknown game. It is an open-source, multiplatform reimplementation meant to faithfully mimic the original game, with optional add-ons
- Performous is a remix of the ideas behind Guitar Hero, SingStar and Dance Dance Revolution.
- Pingus is a clone of Lemmings.
- Scorched 3D is a 3D adaptation of Scorched Earth.
- Spring originally is a clone of Total Annihilation, but actually is a platform for real time strategy games.
- StepMania is a clone of Dance Dance Revolution
- SuperTuxKart and TuxKart are clones of Mario Kart.
- SuperTux and Secret Maryo Chronicles are both clones of Super Mario Bros.
- The Dark Mod is a stealth game inspired by the Thief (series) games (particularly 1 and 2) from Looking Glass Studios
- The Zod Engine is an actively developed open source remake of the game Z.
- Train Simulation Framework is a train simulator which can read the formats originally used for BVE Trainsim.
- UFO: Alien Invasion is heavily influenced by the X-COM series, mostly by UFO: Enemy Unknown.
- UltraStar is an open source clone of SingStar
- Ur-Quan Masters is based on the original source code for Star Control II
- WarMUX is a clone of Worms using free software project mascots instead of worms.
- Warzone 2100 is a real-time strategy and real-time tactics hybrid computer game. Originally published by Eidos Interactive and later released as open source.
- Widelands is a clone of The Settlers 2.
- Bill Kendrick has developed many free software games, most inspired by games for the Atari 8-bit and other classic systems.
Available on Steam
Valve officially released Steam for Linux on February 14, 2013. On June 5, 2014, the number of Linux-compatible games on Steam reached 500. Listed below are some of the games available on Steam for Linux:
- Amnesia: The Dark Descent
- And Yet It Moves
- Civilization V
- Counter-Strike: Condition Zero
- Counter-Strike: Source
- Crusader Kings II
- Day of Defeat
- Dota 2
- Dungeon Defenders
- Europa Universalis IV
- Football Manager 2014
- Half-Life 2
- Kerbal Space Program
- Killing Floor
- Metro: Last Light
- Natural Selection 2
- Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45
- Serious Sam 3: BFE
- Shank 2
- Team Fortress 2
- The Cave
- Trine 2
- Wargame: European Escalation
- World of Goo
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Independent game developers
Independent developer 2D Boy released World of Goo for Linux. Role-playing video game titles like Eschalon: Book I, Eschalon: Book II and Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness were developed cross-platform from the start of development, including a Linux version. Sillysoft released Linux versions of their game Lux and its various versions.
Hemisphere Games has released a Linux version of Osmos. Koonsolo has released a Linux version of Mystic Mine. Amanita Design has released Linux versions of Machinarium and Samorost 2. Irrgheist released a Linux version of their futuristic racing game H-Craft Championship. Gamerizon has released a Linux version of QuantZ. InterAction Studios has several titles mostly in the Chicken Invaders series.
Kristanix Games has released Linux versions of Crossword Twist, Fantastic Farm, Guess The Phrase!, Jewel Twist, Kakuro Epic, Mahjong Epic, Maxi Dice, Solitaire Epic, Sudoku Epic, Theseus and the Minotaur. Anawiki Games has released a Linux versions of Path of Magic, Runes of Avalon, Runes of Avalon 2, Soccer Cup Solitaire, The Perfect Tree and Dress-Up Pups. Gaslamp Games released a Linux version of Dungeons of Dredmor. Broken Rules has released a Linux version of And Yet It Moves.
Frictional Games released Linux versions of both Penumbra: Black Plague and Penumbra: Overture, as well as the expansion pack Penumbra: Requiem. They also released Amnesia: The Dark Descent for Linux simultaneously with the Windows and Mac OS X versions. S2 Games released Linux clients for their titles Savage: The Battle for Newerth, Savage 2: A Tortured Soul and Heroes of Newerth. Wolfire Games released a Linux version of their game Lugaru and they will release its sequel Overgrowth for Linux. David Rosen's Black Shades was also ported to Linux. Arctic Paint has released a Linux version of Number Drill. Charlie’s Games has released a Linux version of Bullet Candy Perfect, Irukandji, Space Phallus and Scoregasm.
Illwinter Game Design released Conquest of Elysium II, Dominions: Priests, Prophets and Pretenders, Dominions II: The Ascension Wars, and Dominions 3: The Awakening for Linux. Introversion Software released Darwinia, Uplink, and DEFCON. Cartesian Theatre is a Vancouver, Canada, based software house specializing in free, commercial, games for GNU/Linux. They have one title currently under active development, Avaneya. Kot-in-Action Creative Artel released their Steel Storm games for Linux. Hazardous Software have released their game Achron for Linux.
Unigine Corp developed Oil Rush using its Unigine engine technology that works on Linux. Unigine Corp was also developing a "shooter-type game" that would have been released for Linux, currently the development on this game is frozen until OilRush is released. The MMORPG game Syndicates of Arkon is also supposed to be coming to Linux. The game Dilogus: The Winds of War is also being developed with Unigine and is planned to have a Linux client.
A number of visual novel developers support Linux. Winter Wolves has released titles such as Spirited Heart, Heileen, The Flower Shop, Bionic Heart, Card Sweethearts, Vera Blanc, Planet Stronghold, and Loren The Amazon Princess for Linux. Hanako Games has released Science Girls, Summer Session, Date Warp, Cute Knight Kingdom, and are considering porting Fatal Hearts to Linux. sakevisual has brought Jisei, Kansei, Yousei, RE: Alistair and Ripples to Linux. Four Leaf Studios has also released Katawa Shoujo for Linux and Christine Love released Digital: A Love Story, both of which, along with Summer Session mentioned previously, are powered by the free software Ren'Py tool. In March 2012 Marcel Weyers released the horror visual novel Sleepless Night.
The voxel-based space sandbox game, ScrumbleShip by Indie developer Dirkson is currently under development for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows.
The realistic replay baseball simulation Out of the Park Baseball by OOTP Developments is currently available for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows, for single player and multiplayer online leagues.
Grappling Hook, a first-shooter like puzzle game.
Independent companies have also taken on the task of porting prominent Windows games to Linux. Loki Software was the first such company, and between 1998 and 2002 ported Civilization: Call to Power, Descent³, Eric's Ultimate Solitaire, Heavy Gear II, Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K.², Heretic II, Heroes of Might and Magic III, Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns, Myth II: Soulblighter, Postal, Railroad Tycoon II, Quake III Arena, Rune, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, Sim City 3000, Soldier of Fortune, Tribes 2, and MindRover to Linux.
Tribsoft created a Linux version of Jagged Alliance 2 by Sir-Tech Canada before shutting down in 2002. Linux Game Publishing was founded in 2001 in response to the impending demise of Loki, and has brought Creatures: Internet Edition, Candy Cruncher, Majesty: Gold Edition, NingPo MahJong, Hyperspace Delivery Boy!, Software Tycoon, Postal²: Share The Pain, Soul Ride, X2: The Threat, Gorky 17, Cold War, Knights and Merchants: The Shattered Kingdom, Ballistics, X3: Reunion, Jets'n'Guns, Sacred: Gold, Shadowgrounds, and Shadowgrounds Survivor to Linux. Some of these games were ported for them by Ryan C. Gordon.
LGP-associated but freelance consultant Frank C. Earl is porting the game Caster to Linux and has released the first episode and also developed the Linux version of Cortex Command being included in the second Humble Indie Bundle. He is also working towards other porting projects such as the entire Myth series. He is largely taking recommendations and he comments as part of the Phoronix community. icculus.org has ported beta releases for Medal of Honor: Allied Assault and Devastation, versions of America's Army, and the titles Prey, Aquaria, Braid, Hammerfight and Cogs.
The German publisher RuneSoft was founded in 2000. They ported the games Northland, Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood, Airline Tycoon Deluxe, Ankh, Ankh: Heart of Osiris, Barkanoid 2, and Jack Keane to Linux, as well as porting Knights and Merchants: The Shattered Kingdom and Software Tycoon, for Linux Game Publishing. Hyperion Entertainment ported games to several systems, they have ported Shogo: Mobile Armor Division and SiN to Linux, as well as porting Gorky 17 for Linux Game Publishing. Wyrmkeep Entertainment has brought the games The Labyrinth of Time and Inherit the Earth: Quest for the Orb to Linux. Alternative Games brought Trine and Shadowgrounds, and Shadowgrounds Survivor for Linux Game Publishing
Some id Software employees ported the Doom series, the Quake series, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. Some games published by GarageGames which have Linux versions include Bridge Builder, Marble Blast Gold, Gish, ThinkTanks, Tribal Trouble, and Dark Horizons: Lore Invasion.
MP Entertainment released Hopkins FBI and Crack dot com released Abuse for Linux, becoming one of the first developers to release a native port. Inner Worlds, another early commercial Linux title, was released for and partly developed on Linux. Philos Laboratories released a Linux version of Theocracy on the retail disk. Absolutist has supported Linux for a number of years. GLAMUS GmbH released a Linux version of their game Mobility.
Lava Lord Games released their game Astro Battle for Linux. Xatrix Entertainment released a Linux version of Kingpin: Life of Crime. Bioware released Neverwinter Nights for Linux. Croteam released the Serious Sam series, with the first game ported by Ryan C. Gordon and with the second self-ported. Ryan C. Gordon also ported Epic Games' shooter games Unreal Tournament 2003 and Unreal Tournament 2004.
|“||We strongly want to get into Linux for a reason," Gustavsson said. "It took Halo for the first Xbox to kick off and go crazy — usually, it takes one killer app or game and then people are more than willing [to adopt it] — it is not hard to get your hands on Linux, for example, it only takes one game that motivates you to go there.||”|
Commercial games for non-x86 instruction sets
Some companies ported games to Linux running on instruction sets other than x86, such as Alpha, PowerPC, Sparc, MIPS or ARM. Loki Entertainment Software ported Civilization: Call to Power, Eric's Ultimate Solitaire, Heroes of Might and Magic III, Myth II: Soulblighter, Railroad Tycoon II Gold Edition and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri with Alien Crossfire expansion pack to Linux PowerPC. They also ported Civilization: Call to Power, Eric's Ultimate Solitaire, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri with Alien Crossfire expansion pack to Linux Alpha and Civilization: Call to Power, Eric's Ultimate Solitaire to Linux Sparc. Linux Game Publishing published Candy Cruncher, Majesty Gold, NingPo MahJong and Soul Ride to Linux PowerPC. They also ported Candy Cruncher, Soul Ride to Linux Sparc and Soul Ride to Linux Alpha.  Illwinter Game Design ported Dominions: Priests, Prophets & Pretenders, Dominions II: The Ascension Wars and Dominions 3 to Linux PowerPC. Hyperion Entertainment ported Sin to Linux PowerPC published by Titan Computer and Gorky 17 to Linux PowerPC which later was published by LGP. Runesoft hired Gunnar von Boehn which ported Robin Hood – The Legend of Sherwood to Linux PowerPC. Later Runesoft ported Airline Tycoon Deluxe to Raspberry Pi was running Debian GNU/Linux.
Several developers have released the source code to many of their legacy titles, allowing them to be run as native applications on many alternative platforms, including Linux. Examples of games which were ported to Linux this way include Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, Rise of the Triad, Ken's Labyrinth, Seven Kingdoms, Warzone 2100, Homeworld, Call to Power II, Wolfenstein 3D, Heretic, Hexen, Hexen II, Aliens versus Predator, Descent, Descent II and Freespace 2. Several game titles that were previously released for Linux were also able to be expanded or updated because of the availability of game code, including Doom, Abuse, Quake, Quake II, Quake III Arena and Jagged Alliance 2. Some derivatives based on released source code have also been released for Linux, such as Aleph One and Micropolis for Marathon 2: Durandal and SimCity respectively.
Certain game titles were even able to be ported due to availability of shared engine code even though the game's code itself remains proprietary or otherwise unavailable, such as the video game Strife or the multiplayer component of Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force. Some games have even been ported entirely or partially by reverse engineering and game engine recreation such as WarCraft II through Wargus or Commander Keen. Another trick is to attempt hacking the game to work as a mod on another native title, such as with the original Unreal. Additionally, some games can be run through the use of Linux specific runtime environments, such as the case of certain games made with Adventure Game Studio such as the Chzo Mythos or certain titles made with the RPG Maker tool. Games derived from released code, with both free and proprietary media, that are released for Linux include Urban Terror, OpenArena, FreeDoom, World of Padman, Nexuiz/Xonotic, War§ow and Excalibur: Morgana's Revenge.
Massively multiplayer online role-playing games
- A Tale in the Desert III (2003, eGenesis) – A trading and crafting game, set in ancient Egypt, pay-to-play.
- Auteria (2007) – A fantasy 3D free-to-play MMORPG.
- Crossfire (1992) – A medieval fantasy 2D game.
- Diaspora (1999, Altitude Productions) – 2D Space trading MMORPG. (Project Diaspora version has a Linux client.)
- Dofus (2005, Ankama Games) – A 2D fantasy MMORPG.
- Eternal Lands (2003, Radu Privantu) – A 3D fantasy free-to-play MMORPG.
- PlaneShift – A 3D fantasy free-to-play game.
- Regnum Online – A 3D fantasy game, free-to-play with premium content.
- RuneScape – Java fantasy 3rd person MMORPG.
- Spiral Knights – Java fantasy 3rd person game.
- The Mana World – 2D medieval fantasy MMORPG, free to play and open source (GPL'd) – Home page, first released in 2005.
- The Saga of Ryzom – has a Linux client and source code available.
- Tibia – A 2D Medieval fantasy game. Free-to-play with premium content.
- Ultima Online has an unofficial Linux client.
- Vendetta Online – A 3D spacecraft MMOFPS with growing RPG elements, pay to play. Maintains both Linux/32 and Linux/64 clients.
- WorldForge – A game engine. There are Linux clients available.
- Wurm Online – A Java-based MMORPG.
- Wyvern – A 2D fantasy MMORPG that runs on Java.
- Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates – A puzzle game which runs on Java.
- Many Virtual Worlds – (such as Second Life) also have Linux clients.
Linux gaming started largely as an extension of the already present Unix gaming scene, with both systems sharing many similar titles. These games were either mostly original or clones of arcade games and text adventures. A notable example of this is was the so-called "BSD Games", a collection of interactive fiction titles. The free software and open source methodologies which spawned the development of the operating system in general also spawned the creation of various early free games. Popular early titles included NetHack, Netrek, XBill, XEvil, xbattle, Xconq and XPilot. As the operating system itself grew and expanded, the amount of free and open source games also increased in scale and complexity.
The beginning of Linux as a gaming platform for commercial video games is often credited to have begun in 1994 when Dave D. Taylor ported the game Doom in his spare time to Linux as well as many other systems. From there he would also help found the development studio Crack dot Com, which released the video game Abuse, with the Linux port being published by Linux vendor Red Hat. id Software, the original developers of Doom, also continued to release their products for Linux. Their game Quake was ported to Linux in 1996, once again by an employee working in his free time. Later id products continued to be ported by David Kirsch and Timothee Besset respectively. In 1995 DUX Software contracted Don Hopkins to port SimCity to Linux. Other early commercial Linux games included Hopkins FBI, an adventure game released in 1998 by MP Entertainment, and Inner Worlds in 1996, which was released for and mostly developed on Linux. In 1998 two programmers from Origin ported Ultima Online to Linux.
On November 9, 1998, a new software firm called Loki Software was founded by Scott Draeker, a former lawyer who became interested in porting games to Linux after being introduced to the system through his work as a software licensing attorney. Loki, although a commercial failure, is credited with the birth of the modern Linux game industry. Loki developed several free software tools, such as the Loki installer (also known as Loki Setup), and supported the development of the Simple DirectMedia Layer, as well as starting the OpenAL audio library project. These are still often credited[by whom?] as being the cornerstones of Linux game development. They were also responsible for bringing nineteen high profile games to the platform before its closure in 2002. Loki's initial success also attracted other firms to invest in the Linux gaming market, such as Tribsoft, Hyperion Entertainment, Macmillan Digital Publishing USA, Xatrix Entertainment, and Philos Laboratories. During this time Michael Simms founded Tux Games, one of the first still active online Linux game retailers.
After Loki's closure, the Linux game market experienced some changes. Although some new firms, such as Linux Game Publishing and RuneSoft, would largely continue the role of a standard porting house, the focus began to change with Linux game proponents encouraging game developers to port their game products themselves or through individual contractors. Influential to this was Ryan C. Gordon, a former Loki employee who would over the next decade port several game titles to multiple platforms, including Linux. Around this time many companies, starting with id, also began to release legacy source code leading to a proliferation of source ports of older games to Linux and other systems. This also helped expand the already existing free and open source gaming scene, especially with regards to the creation of free first person shooters.
The Linux gaming market also started to experience some growth towards the end of the decade with the rise of independent video game development, with many "indie" developers favouring support for multiple platforms. The recent Humble Indie Bundle initiatives have helped formally demonstrate this new trend, with Linux users representing a sizeable population of their purchase base, as well as consistently being the most financially generous in terms of actual money spent. The release of a Linux version of Desura, a digital distribution platform with a primary focus on small independent developers, has also been heralded by several commentators as an important step to greater acknowledgement of Linux as a gaming platform.
In July 2012, game developer and content distributor Valve Software announced a port of their Source engine for Linux as well as stating their intention to release their Steam digital distribution service for Linux. The potential availability of a Linux Steam client has already attracted other developers to consider porting their titles to Linux.
In November 2012, Unity Technologies ported their Unity engine and game creation system to Linux starting with version 4. All of the games created with the Unity engine can now be ported to Linux easily.
In September 2013 Valve announced that they were releasing a gaming oriented Linux based operating system called SteamOS with Valve saying they had "come to the conclusion that the environment best suited to delivering value to customers is an operating system built around Steam itself."
In March 2014 GOG.com announced they would begin to support Linux titles on their DRM free store starting the same year, after previously stating they wouldn't be able to due to too many distributions. GOG.com began their initial roll out on July 24, 2014 by offering 50 Linux supporting titles, including several new to the platform.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Linux video games.|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Linux gaming|
Directories and lists
- Linux Game Database is a large database for native Linux games. It contains more than 1460 games as of November 9, 2013.
- The Directory of Linux Games is an online (& offline with Tellico) database for native Linux games (3134 games & 487 tools on January 8, 2014).
- Penguspy claims to "contain only the best games", and as such does not contain all native titles. It currently only contains 186 games.
- LinApp is a database of commercial Linux software, including games.
- The Linux Gamers' Game List is a detailed list of games for Linux.
- Libregamewiki offers detailed coverage, exclusively of free software games with free content media.
- AllForLinux is another list of Linux games.
- 100 Linux Games provides a list of 100 best free Linux games.
- Games On Linux is a database of commercial Linux games.
- Universal Videogame List is a database that includes a list of over 4500 Linux games.
News and commentary
- L.G.C. Weekly podcast – Venn, Jordan, and Pedro scream about whats what in the world of Linux gaming.
- GamingOnLinux is an active Linux gaming news website.
- Linux Gaming News – Unique Linux gaming news and interviews.
- linuxgames.com – LinuxGames is one of the oldest Linux gaming news sources, since 1998
- Linux Game Cast – Linux gaming news, reviews, and video how-to's.
- Linux gaming articles at Play This Thing
- PlayOnLinux is a Front-End for wine