Looks like Steam’s getting built-in tools to run Windows games on Linux

A few lines of code uncovered in Steam suggest that Valve is working on compatibility tools to allow users to play games regardless of operating system. Put another way, Steam’s going to let you run Windows games on Mac and Linux with a set of software built directly into the client.

Uncovered strings all come under the “Steam_Settings_Compat” header, and all reference back to Steam Play. That’s currently the moniker Valve used to distinguish games that come as a single purchase playable across Windows, Mac, and Linux, but the strings suggest a new definition on the way.

Of particular note is “Steam_Settings_Compat_Info,” with the description “Steam Play will automatically install compatibility tools that allow you to play games from your library that were built for other operating systems.” As a group of Redditors have noted, that sounds a whole lot like WINE, and though the data uncovered by SteamDB doesn’t mention any compatibility tool by name, it certainly sounds like something a whole lot like it is on the way.

Further strings suggest there will be a distinction for games tested to support Steam Play, though you’ll likely have an option to force games to run in the compatibility layer regardless. It’s worth noting that strings with similar implications have been in the database at least since January, so this is definitely one of those infamous “Valve time” projects – though one that seems to still be progressing.

Valve’s own SteamOS is built on Linux, and this could be part of a renewed push for the platform. There are rumblings around the internet about SteamOS 3.0 being on the way, even after Valve removed Steam Machines from the Steam store. At the same time, Valve reiterated its support of Linux and Vulkan for PC gaming – if built-in compatibility tools for non-Windows OSes is on the way, the company’s certainly backing up those plans.


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