How to Play Steam Games on Linux

Playing Steam games on Linux has become more straightforward thanks to Valve’s Steam Play, which includes a compatibility layer called Proton. Proton allows many games that are available only on Windows to run on Linux with varying degrees of success. Here’s how you can get started with playing Steam games on Linux:

Step 1: Install Steam on Linux

  1. Open Terminal and update your package repository with the command:
    sudo apt update
  2. Install Steam using the package manager:
    sudo apt install steam

    Alternatively, you can download the Steam installation package from the Steam website and install it manually.

Step 2: Enable Steam Play

  1. Launch Steam and sign in to your account.
  2. Go to Steam’s Settings by clicking on ‘Steam’ in the upper left corner of the client and selecting ‘Settings’ (or ‘Preferences’ on some distributions).
  3. Find the Steam Play settings under the ‘Steam Play’ section.
  4. Enable Steam Play for supported titles by checking the box. You can also enable it for all other titles by checking “Enable Steam Play for all other titles,” but be aware that this might lead to variable performance in games not officially supported.
  5. Restart Steam for the changes to take effect.

Step 3: Install and Play Games

  1. Browse or Search for a game you want to install. Games that are officially supported will show a SteamOS icon on their store page, but many games without the icon can still work thanks to Proton.
  2. Install the game by clicking the “Install” button as you would on Windows.
  3. Play the game by clicking the “Play” button once the installation is complete.

Step 4: Check Compatibility

  1. If you want to check how well a game runs on Linux with Proton before purchasing or installing it, you can visit ProtonDB, which is a community-run site where players report and share their experiences with running Windows games on Linux with Proton.

Troubleshooting and Tips

  • If a game doesn’t work immediately with Proton, you might need to install additional drivers or libraries. The community reports on ProtonDB often include necessary tweaks.
  • Performance can vary depending on your hardware, the game, and the version of Proton.
  • Graphic Drivers: Make sure you have the latest graphic drivers installed. For NVIDIA, it’s often recommended to use the proprietary drivers for the best gaming performance. AMD and Intel graphics usually work best with the open-source Mesa drivers.
  • Use Native Linux Versions When Available: If a game offers a native Linux version, that will typically give you the best performance and stability.
  • Tweak Proton Versions: Sometimes, specific games run better with specific versions of Proton. You can select different versions for individual games by clicking on the game in your library, choosing ‘Properties,’ then ‘Compatibility,’ and choosing the Proton version you want to use.
  • Consider Gaming-Oriented Linux Distributions: Some Linux distributions like Pop!_OS or Manjaro are known for being particularly good for gaming and may come with drivers and utilities pre-installed to enhance the gaming experience.

With these steps, you should be able to play many of your favorite Steam games on Linux.

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