Interesting news that Valve has developed and integrated a WINE fork called Proton into the Linux version of their game launcher. The consideration now becomes whether to buy games that work through this compatibility layer but don’t otherwise support Linux.
There are always a lot of people on forums that speak of dual-booting, and that class will mostly buy games regardless of Linux support. For them, lack of Linux support was never a deal breaker, even if they would have liked to have support. Game access comes first, and they’ll be happy to keep buying the games they want, playing them in a Linux environment when they can.
There are people that have used WINE or similar layers all along from Linux, and they would buy whatever games they liked that they could verify would work via the WINE database (plus natively supported games). For this group, access via Linux, by any means, comes first. But they’ll still happily keep doing their thing.
There are also plenty who will want first-class Linux support, and that group is harder to judge now. If a game’s support is via WINE/Proton, does that count as first class? Especially if they are willing to fix bugs that arise, either by contributing to Proton or by changing their own game. One issue there is that updating games for Windows to fix bugs for Linux seems weird. It’ll be up to Valve and developers to decide whether having a “Windows-WINE” flavored repository makes sense for developers that use that approach.
But I digress. Some of the purist camp will not want to play games via compatibility, but if the developers signal they support Linux through WINE/Proton, others will consider support support.
The main long-term benefit of adding a compatibility layer may actually be bigger than Linux gaming. Due to WINE’s potential for portability, there may be places that Windows games end up working in the distant future that nobody planned on.
I installed and tried the old Katamari Damacy clone, The Wonderful End of the World (Dejoban Games). It worked just fine. There were only one or two models without rendered textures (black instead), and only one occasion where mouse-capture was partially lost (alt-tabbing out and in fixed that).
When I get a chance, I’ll try some other games I haven’t played in the years since I left Windows. I suspect most of them will mostly work.
Whether I’ll buy games that work through “Steam Play,” I haven’t decided just yet. I’ll certainly consider it, though.