Why this matters: By comparison, Steam offers nearly 6,500 Windows games, and 2,323 games for Mac. While Linux is still squarely in third place—and could really use support from more major publishers—the level of growth over the last 18 months is impressive. And if you compare Steam Machines to a traditional console launch, Valve will have a huge number of titles supporting its platform out of the gate.
Little progress among megapublishers
Now for the bad news: Most large publishers continue to keep SteamOS and Linux at a distance, either avoiding the platforms or offering just limited support. Valve’s catalog still doesn’t sell a single game from Activision, Bethesda, Capcom, Electronic Arts, or Square Enix, while Ubisoft only offers a couple of free-to-play online titles.
Without their support, the biggest third-party publishers on Linux are Warner Bros. (Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Dying Light) and 2K Games (Sid Meier’s Civilization V, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Borderlands 2), though even they haven’t brought all of their recent releases over.
Meanwhile, some developers who have launched games on Linux have expressed frustrations, either because it’s difficult to write for or the sales just aren’t there. Perhaps Valve can at least address the latter issue by pushing Steam Machines into the wild, offering a highly-visible platform for developers to target.
Jared Newman has been helping folks make sense of technology for over a decade, writing for PCWorld, TechHive, and elsewhere. He also publishes two newsletters, Advisorator for straightforward tech advice and Cord Cutter Weekly for saving money on TV service.