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back to article Valve chief confirms Steam-centric console-killing PC

Expect to see a Steam-brand console-style living room PC in 2013, Gabe Newell, the head of Valve, has revealed. There have been hints the company is working on such a box. The debut earlier this year of a TV-centric UI for the Steam client, called Big Picture, which came out of beta last week, is perhaps the most important one …

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Coat

Here we go

Expect this to be like Half Life 2 all over again (And HL3), will be 10 years away from this I assume.

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Alert

Re: Here we go

I threaten you with a crowbar!!

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Steamy Windows?

nah, that wouldn't get past the TM police.

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Re: Steamy Windows?

But what about the undercover agent?

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Joke

Re: Steamy Windows?

"nah, that wouldn't get past the TM police."

If they teamed up with Nintendo they could always use 'Wii Steam', but only on cold days of course.

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Seems promising

I wonder how this will work out for gamers, both the PC and console types.

Quite looking forward to seeing what name they settle for as well. Not sure there are many words that will sit with the Valve/Steam naming convetion... Possibly Pump? I would definitely buy a console called Pump, but would much prefer to buy one called "Tyrannosaurus"

Note to Apple, this means I thought of it first, so dont go trademarking or patenting anything.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Seems promising

Upvote solely for the Apple note at the bottom

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Trollface

Re: Note to Apple...

This needs to become a meme.

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Pint

Come on Valve, work on linux, then work on half life 2ep. 3 and then do you set top box / console.

Can't wait. Having struggled to get windows 8 to work all weekend on anything graphic related I can see newell's point, I gave up and rolled back to a fully working windows 7.

Steam on linux means I can finally get rid of windows from my house. For me the metro wasn't the issue, that was pants and confusing and hopeless and no use whatsoever. But when windows 8 can't detect or run your gfx card after 3 full reinstalls (which invalidated the upgrade licence), 49 updates and a blue screen of death. Yet nvidia says it is running fine and steam kinda works, there really is no hope for it running games.

All you MS fanbois can open up now on how it is great and new and 'woot' for joy. I am happy for you, but I also don't care anymore.

Beer to hope the day windows 8 is declared vista 2 comes soon and a beer to celebrate steam consoles...

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Re: Come on Valve, ...

Too right,

all it will take is a couple of the big games software houses to jump ship from DirectX and start coding OpenGL natively and I can finally be rid of Windows.

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Your title is too long!

The problem isn't getting Steam to work on Linux, that part is pretty easy (and done). The problem is getting the gaming companies to produce versions that run on Windows, OSX and Linux. Windows is a no-brainer, the market share for Windows is so high that not producing a game for it is a bit daft, OSX has a lower marketshare (single digits or is it now in double?) so maybe popular games that will sell, maybe indy titles but not really a huge amount of games. Linux, the marketshare is pretty low so it'll take companies dedicated to getting their games to run on Linux to make it financially viable, as well as Linux users buying the games.

So no, just getting Steam running on Linux doesn't mean you can dump Windows, you'll still need Windows to run the vast majority of games that are on Steam. Case in point, Skyrim.

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Re: Your title is too long!

As soon as companies realise that they can get an extra 25-50% of the purchase price again for launching on another platform, plus new users, they'll be there.

What's needed first is enough momentum to get people asking for it. A handful of geeks that didn't buy their OS is hardly the target market here. We just need the tipping point where enough people realise what happens.

And that's coming. Valve are making their games work on Linux. Most indie titles and a lot of the larger commercial titles have Linux versions. If you're programming for Windows, Mac, and consoles, (not to mention Android!) it's actually not that much more difficult to throw in a Linux version too.

Have you bought a humble bundle recently? Something like 75% of the games have native Linux versions.

The first to jump on will be the casual game makers (so Angry Birds on Steam / Android might actually create more fuss than anything else), then the middle-market, then the top titles like Skyrim. Valve are working to penetrate their own upper layers and have got the geeks gabbing by a (unreleased) build of L4D2 with huge framerate increases on the same hardware using Linux. It's only a matter of time for that to propagate.

In context, this is the most "linux-related" gaming news there's been since Transgaming set up shop. That's pretty huge, and there's a real chance that the necessary momentum could build, especially against some Windows 8 FUD (nice to see turn-about-is-fair-play) and a bit of a stagnation in the console markets.

The fact is, though - you don't *need* everyone. You just need enough.

And, as someone else pointed out here and I've pointed out in the past, give HL3 a one-month headstart on Linux, and you'll have people falling over themselves to install it even if just to get to that game. And once they're there, a nice app-store aimed at gaming supported on the platform and necessary to play the game. That's an MS-style tactic that's worked more than once.

I've been saying for years that Steam, or a competitor, should have done this a long time ago (imagine if Origin had been Linux-supporting even if only in a limited amount... that would have actually given people a reason to go to it over Steam). I hope it pans out, but I don't expect things like Skyrim or the other junk that costs too much and I never play. Gimme even 10% of my gaming software library and it's worth installing and trying, and shouting to other games makers that they should be getting onboard.

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Re: Your title is too long!

I think you're forgetting about WINE. Apparently Skyrim runs particularly well...once the Linux store is up and running them packaging up the game with a tweaked version of WINE for the Linux version (a-la the existing games on there that just use DOSBox to wrap the old DOS binaries) becomes a viable way forward.

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Re: Come on Valve, work on linux, then work on half life 2ep. 3 and . . .

So, by your own admission, the problem isn't Windows it's the nVidia drivers? Why would you do a full reinstall of the OS when you clearly had a single driver issue? And if Windows 8 didn't detect the graphics card, how did you see the message? Did you try to manually select your card? And so on.

And i'm neither going to up or down vote you, I expect I shall get rampantly down-voted though, for suggesting that PEBKAC.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Your title is too long!

Isn't it more likely to go the other way? So instead of using WINE to run the game there'll be Linux on a stick so you can run Steam games and then boot back to Ubuntu, other flavour of Linux or Windows when you've finished.

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Anonymous Coward

@Lee Dowling

"If you're programming for Windows, Mac, and consoles, (not to mention Android!) it's actually not that much more difficult to throw in a Linux version too especially if you're just dashing off a quick comment on a website somewhere and don't actually have to write the code and debug it and test it and support it but if you are then that's your problem, not mine, and if you don't like it, look for a new career."

Fixed it for ya!

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FAIL

Re: Come on Valve, work on linux, then work on half life 2ep. 3 and . . .

Eadon - he wasn't blaming the user, he was clearly saying that it's more than likely the NVIDIA drivers and NOT Windows 8. That much is clear to me too.

PS Windows 8 installs in 15 mins flat, with one reboot and everything works. So I don't see what was your point

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Re: Come on Valve, work on linux, ...

Not sure what your hardware setup is like but win8 + latest stable nvidia drivers works like a dream for me. Performance is just fine and if anything better than it was on win7. I'm just using a laptop with an nVidia 525GTX and I've been playing borderlands 2 with no problems at all.

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Re: Your title is too long!

re: needing extra incentives to make Linux versions, I think that actually it shouldn't be that much of a burden to most developers to add Linux versions to an existing roster of Windows/Mac versions. The key, really, is that once you've got an OpenGL version working for the Mac platform, you won't need to do much to port this to Linux. After all, they've both got a fairly standard Unix heritage (not that most games use the OS for much anyway) and both have industry-standard OpenGL. The biggest problem is the variety of graphics hardware that Linux users might have driving their displays and what level of OpenGL the Linux drivers support, but that's really more of a problem for the users to sort out: if they want to be able to play games, they know that they have to shell out for decent graphics cards and do their homework in terms of checking whether the card is properly supported and being prepared to delve into the forums when things don't quite go to plan. If anything, it's the state of graphics drivers, though, and not Linux itself that is the main stumbling block for users. The graphics card manufacturers really need to do a much better job with its Linux drivers...

The real question is whether the market exists for Linux games. I think that there have been signs from a long way back that Linux users would love to have native games for their platform, and even that they'd be willing to pay a premium for them over the Windows versions. Like "Linux on the desktop", though, it always seems that proper gaming support is always 2--3 years off. It's very interesting to see this new Steam development and, to a lesser degree, the way that OpenGL (ES) has become the de-facto graphics tech on the various mobile platforms. I think that if things continue along the same arc, we will begin to see a lot more of a market for Linux gaming, though I think that the actual OS will not be as relevant as the division between games designed for DirectX, OpenGL and OpenGL ES.

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Re: Come on Valve, work on linux, then work on half life 2ep. 3 and . . .

"he wasn't blaming the user"

If you don't know what PEBKAC means you can always google it

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FAIL

You must have something really crud..

Strange...you must have some really weird or crap PC. I mean, I'm no defender of Windows 8's rather grotty Start menu, but I installed it, then downloaded and installed the nVidia graphics drivers and it all worked perfectly....

....albeit with one small exception. Some games, and some programs, need you to run them as an administrator. I'm not sure if this is a flaw in Windows 8, the games/programs, or Windows 7's security.

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Re: Come on Valve, work on linux, ...

@NB When I installed Windows 8 it assumed I had a UK keyboard. I live in Australia, so I don't. This would normally only be a trivial problem, except that during installation it asked for my email address, which of course contains the @ symbol. Problem is, then I typed @, I got ".

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Anonymous Coward

@ eadon Re: Come on Valve, work on linux, then work on half life 2ep. 3 and . . .

Not only that. Notice how the MS fanbois/astroturfers blame Linux for driver problems, but don't blame MS for driver problems?

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Re: David Webb

"Windows is a no-brainer, the market share for Windows is so high that not producing a game for it is a bit daft, OSX has a lower marketshare (single digits or is it now in double?) so maybe popular games that will sell, maybe indy titles but not really a huge amount of games. Linux, the marketshare is pretty low so it'll take companies dedicated to getting their games to run on Linux to make it financially viable, as well as Linux users buying the games."

From what I remember OSX has about 8% market share whereas Linux has about 2%. Getting accurate numbers is difficult though, especially if they're based on sale figures of operating systems shipped with new PCs (most Linux users end up paying the 'Windows tax' or buy a PC with no OS installed).

Although this is pure guesswork, I'm willing to bet real currency that even if the 8% and 2% figures are accurate, Linux still has more gamers in its user-base than OSX.

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Re: David Webb (@Fibbles)

It's not a fantastic dataset but looking at the Humble Bundle stats (because they're readily available), Mac users have been responsible for about 40% more purchases than Linux users. Though Linux have been willing to pay more on average so that's turned into Mac users supplying only about 10% more revenue.

Windows users were only about 63% of the buyers. Assuming that the Humble Bundle and the Steam crowd has a reasonably high degree of crossover (and there's a reasonable case for that given that the Humble guys provide Steam keys as part of the purchase in many cases), it would therefore seem that if you can take what would otherwise be a Windows release and make it a cross-platform release then you can add about 50% to your sales figures.

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Linux

Re: Your title is too long! (re: Wine)

There are a couple of issues:

1. Most existing steam users probably won't want this because they will probably lose some of their purchased games if they go linux-only. I haven't seen the native client running games under wine, but I assume it isn't that hard to do.

2. The native steam client isn't out of beta yet. It works pretty well, but I'd be adding more games before release, even if you are targeting the "we don't have a console yet" market. There are plenty of old games they could run under emulation. They could go back to 8-bit for retro gaming too as they tend to be controller-friendly. All the space-invader/centipede/miner 2049er type games from Apple ][, C64, Spectrum days. Just tweak the graphics a bit - these games were not designed for 27"-44" screens... ;)

3. Bluetooth controllers for tv play - yes we want them! :) (and we're willing to nick the Wii controllers too)

4. PC games will need dumbing down to console level if you're using controllers. You can't just slap a game controller interface onto a pc version of COD and expect... oh wait, bad example... Anyway, you get the idea. On the other hand, I would have thought that Wii console game publishers would jump at the chance to port.

5. Ranked games. These are desirable, but you need to be able to deal with different platforms. People won't want to lose rankings because they happen to be over at a friend's house using built-in intel graphics rather than their quad SLI GTX680/i7 box at home. I suspect this is a non-trivial problem.

Wouldn't it be funny if wine became the games target of choice?

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Re: Your title is too long!

Can't see why a tweaked WINE couldn't be employed like you say.

If they unify the hardware then it's a dead cert winner!

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Re: Come on Valve, work on linux, then work on half life 2ep. 3 and . . .

@evilgav 1

It certainly isn't PEBKAC.

Install 1, I told it to use the SSD. It used SSD and then stuck a reserved partition on my 3TB without asking or telling me, marking it as an MBR and due to the MS known fault (shock) of only being able to work a 2.2GB it locked out 800Gb of HDD as completely unusable. Untouchable by 3 partitioning software tools I used.

Reinstall 2, I told it to use SSD, and checked in BIOS to make sure it was the first HDD to use. it found the MBR partiion and reinstalled everything on the 3TB and made the SSD my D:\ drive. Ignoring user directions and choices in the process. Then got confused with itself because windows 8 was already installed on the SSD.

Reinstall 3, had to unplug the 3TB, install on SSD and then plug in 3TB and format. It then became a normal 3tb drive. Basically the windows partitioner is nothing on the linux one, in fact it is nothing of worth. Typical crud for moron users with nothing for someone that actually wants a working PC.

Because of the reinstalls to get it to work my upgrade licence became invalid, microsoft answers tell me I have to buy a new licence and go backwards to 7, so the upgrade will work again (or you can reinstall windows 8 on top of it, or do a reg hack) Wow that is efficient of M$.

BSOD was when trying to copy files onto the computer from network. From my windows home server 2011 actually, which you would assume MS had tested or still supported.

Ran memtest+ for nearly 8 hours and that reported all ok. And BIOS is the latest version.

The gfx issue was windows 8, NVIDIA drivers installed fine according to Nvidia, games played okay (l4d2) so steam didn't have an issue running them. I did everything to try and get it to run, 14 years in IT support, supporting MS (for my sins) But windows always complains they were broke when rating or running performance monitor. So the error was definitely in the windows 8 camp. The fact windows 8 couldn't detect it but managed to output through at the correct resolution (1920x1200) to tell me it couldn't detect it is probably some default program inside windows, as it also in device manager managed to show it correctly at a hardware level.

Since installing windows 7, it runs, rates at 7.7 and works. While I accept your initial assumption, I limited my original post to stop sounding like someone that has wasted 3 days of my life in an effort to work with windows 8. A lot of people on here hate it for the front end reasons, I detest it for the metro / desktop interface, but as I only want to play games on it, I limited my post to supporting steam because I just can't use windows 8 as intended. I did try but the software is still being written by monkeys.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Come on Valve

Maybe you shouldn't be using PC's. It seems that an Apple would be more suitable for your lack of skills.

The one point I would agree with you on is that it would be good to be able to move over to Linux and perhaps having a Steambox would provide that impetus. Not that I'm unhappy with MS, the computer I'm writing this on has been running win7 faultlessly for 2 years with only the occasional reboot for updates and prior to that I had one running XP 24/7 for at least 5 years. The main reason I'd like to move to Linux is that with Win8 MS is looking too much like a toy and I suspect it's future product pathway will take it too close to the Apple model for my liking.

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Re: Come on Valve, work on linux, ...

You should realise that you will get downvoted here for telling the truth.

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Re: Come on Valve

Why the AC? Never mind, I don't care really.

What part of M$ do you work for? My lack of skills? The entire community of M$ in their official web page and they officially tell me to buy another licence? So please add our comments on their, MCP and all the other acronyms would love to hear from your excellent judgement.

Large amounts of support from various areas and the power of google couldn't fix windows 8 install on the new machine. But feel free to blame Samsung, Nvidia, Kingston, Intel and shuttle if you feel you can't blame the only common denominator which was windows 8. Lack of support by Ebuyer perhaps for selling them?

I have four flavours of linux, and now a windows 7 gaming machine. So roll on Steam to linux so I can replace the last windows machine.

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Just hurry up with the Linux port

Not too fussed about playing on my telly tbh but they need to get working on the Linux port now.

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Re: Just hurry up with the Linux port

Not too fussed about playing on my telly tbh but they need to get working on the Linux port now.

You know that's in beta, right? I'm in it. The client looks identical to the Windows one, the overlay is a million times faster, and it's currently about as stable as Mel Gibson.

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Re: Just hurry up with the Linux port

Yeh I know it's in Beta but it needs to get finished :)

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final blow for Windows

"That will undoubtedly suggest to some - as has been mooted in the past - that the Steam machine will run Linux rather than Windows."

Well, quite an understatement IMHO. This is a sure thing for me ... Why putting it on Windows and incur all the usual MS burden (costs, security issues, management) ?

This move, that will probably be followed by other companies (EA anyone ?) indeed, will probably be the final blow for Windows. In a couple of years, when office-like products will be on all tablets, there'll be absolutely no point in having a PC with Windows.

As far as I'm concerned, my games portfolio has already moved to Macos and I'm looking forward to seeing it on my TV, with a box !

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Re: final blow for Windows

Your games portfolio must be pretty small. :E

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Re: final blow for Windows

Your games portfolio must be pretty small. :E

You're only thinking in terms of old software. If they marketed it as a console and got people to develop for it, they'd develop for it as a new platform. I'm pretty certain that the PS3 isn't Windows underneath.

There are thousands of old games that will never get a Mac or Linux port, but if they can encourage major developers to cross-platform the coming games, then in time Windows will become redundant.

Gotta get AMD to fix their drivers first, though. They're horrendous.

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Re: "Gotta get AMD to fix their drivers first, though. They're horrendous."

Agreed, also why is the ATI 4850 now considered legacy? It's still better than 90% of integrated solutions.

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Re: final blow for Windows

Final blows for windows - they are a bit like final farewell concerts for Status Quo - they seem to have one every few months.

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Re: final blow for Windows

http://store.steampowered.com/browse/mac/

Should have gone to specsavers.

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Re: final blow for Windows

yep.

But non uk dwellers are not going to understand it...

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Re: final blow for Windows

I don't see why a non-Windows console is a killer blow for Windows PCs - we already have plenty of non-Windows consoles.

"In a couple of years, when office-like products will be on all tablets, there'll be absolutely no point in having a PC with Windows."

Ah yes, Windows 8 is doomed because no one wants to use touch at all, but everyone will throw away their PCs and run pure touch tablets. Which is it? Given the usual strong dislike of replacing keyboards/mouse with touch, I've got to laugh that the opinion is suddenly voted up when it's used to criticise Windows again.

What, office workers are supposed to spend all day holding up their arms with a touchscreen? Yet, go to one of the Windows 8 threads, and I dare you to suggest that touchscreens are good for replacing PCs, and see how quick you get voted down. The double-standard is ridiculous.

"As far as I'm concerned, my games portfolio has already moved to Macos and I'm looking forward to seeing it on my TV, with a box !"

Ah, an Apple user. I do find it odd that people are smug to have moved away from MS - and then you find they're an *Apple* user. Sorry, I don't see how being stuck with one company for hardware and OS is better than being stuck with one company for OS! And your vapour TV, if they ever release it, will presumably be running IOS rather than OS X (unless you just mean plugging your computer into a TV, which anyone can do...)

Personally I like Linux and Windows - but above all, I like my choice of PC hardware. A world where there's only one choice of hardware, and we have to use only tablets, is not what many of us want! Nor do any of the advantages of Linux/Android over Windows apply to OS X or IOS.

(And for other readers advocating Linux - if PCs get replaced with consoles and tablets, whilst many may be running the Linux kernel, it will also be the end of the GNU/Linux distributions running on machines with keyboards that we love - there seems to be little attempt to get them onto tablets, and phones with Linux distributions like Maemo/Meego are no longer available.)

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If Gabe was smart, REALLY smart; he would make HL2 Ep3 or HL 3 (whatever it comes out as) available on the steam box only for the first three months.

Linux is much more stable for gaming than windows. I will be getting one, maybe. For those with memories, I did once say I would never get a console, but I already own 50+ Steam games so as long as I can access them it is worth my while to get a TV interface to play them.

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Anonymous Coward

Linux is much more stable for gaming than windows

Yeah, sure. For Tuxracer maybe. The rest has to be forced to work with a half-assed Windows emulator.

Pathetic.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Linux is much more stable for gaming than windows

Xonotic.

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Re: Linux is much more stable for gaming than windows

Yeah, sure. For Tuxracer maybe. The rest has to be forced to work with a half-assed Windows emulator.

Pathetic.

Pathetic, eh? OK, what frameworks does Windows have for running Mac games?

Never mind that the major game engines are pretty much all Linux compatible from the get-go.

Tit.

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Re: Linux is much more stable for gaming than windows

@AC 1303

I'm sorry I can't provide a constructive reply at the moment, I'm too busy blowing the gibs off forty foot tall chaingun weilding scorpions in Serious Sam 3.

On my Ubuntu box.

Natively.

I'm not even joking, it's an excellent port, very good, solid framerates, no frameskips or other 'minor' bugs you'd expect from a port, as far as I can tell it's indistinguishable from the Windows version in every respect.

I don't know how it compares frame-for-frame on the same hardware, but on an A8-3850/HD7770 it's extremely playable - I've not noticed or been hindered by any framerate issues (and anyone who has played Serious Sam will know how important framerate/control is when things get hectic - which is the whole last half of the game). Seems comparable enough given the distinctly mid-range hardware I have (which it is, these days).

Beta testing has never been so much fun. And massive kudos to CroTeam for doing such a hugely impressive and polished job of the port.

Steven R

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