Steam on Linux is the Snowball Linux Needs

Whether or not you’re a gamer, if you’ve been following the “Year of Linux on the Desktop” prophecies over the years, you’ll undoubtedly have noticed that incompatibility with today’s popular games has been a significant obstacle to wide-spread adoption among the young, gaming crowd; the sons, nephews, brothers and sisters who are their families’ go-to IT guys. The people who are asked, ever so often, “What should I use?”, “What’s best?”, “What do you use?”. Their response to these questions might soon change; Valve is going to release Steam for Linux:

If Valve makes Steam on Linux a success, many of the people who are on other platforms today because they practically don’t have a choice will give Linux on the desktop a second thought, and might just recommend it to others if they stick with it. By now, there are plenty of other reasons to recommend Linux on the desktop as a serious alternative, after all.

But okay, let’s not kid ourselves. PC gaming is a much smaller market than console gaming, and adoption among gamers surely wouldn’t cause the Year of the Linux Desktop by itself. The side effects, however, will be interesting to observe. If Valve ports all of their games, including the Source engine, to both Mac and Linux, there could very well be a shift in the industry, away from the DirectX monopoly, that will benefit both Mac and Linux and widen public interest in the development of OpenGL. Not a significant shift on an Xbox scale, perhaps, but enough to shine a spotlight on Linux. That spotlight could be what Linux needs to gain momentum with the gaming generation, and, as a side effect, in general. A snowball, if you will.

Word of mouth is the most powerful kind of marketing, after all.