Steam is now officially available for Linux users. Just this past week, Steam for Linux exited the beta phase and has gone full service. This means that the platform is now available for a free download via the Ubuntu Software Center. As part of the celebration, Valve will have certain titles for sale at up to a 75% discount. The sale will include about 50 titles such as Defcon, FTL, Trine 2 and Counter Strike Source among others. The sale will only last until Feb. 21st.
The sale is aimed at not only celebrating the launch of Steam for Linux but as a way to ease devotees into the world of gaming. Linux has long been a strategic goal for Valve as arguments for Windows 8 became more prevalent. This is especially true as Microsoft becomes more heavily involved in game sales through the Windows 8 Store, giving stiff competition to Apple. Proponents of Linux say that this move is the last best hope in the world of open gaming.
In the past, Linux has been held back by the lack of progress from graphics card developer to create optimized drivers for the system. Another fact is the lack of developers to create Linux ports that are needed for the small number of long time Linux gamers. This lack of progress is where the introduction of Steam will give things a much needed boost. A gaming market place the size with the influence of Steam will definitely change the potential desirability of Linux on both sides of the supply and demand equation. All mysteries aside, Valve is definitely looking to have a reference for Linux that is designed to give users hassle-free gaming.
The speed at which the Linux client was developed clearly shows commitment to the situation. Both the closed and open beta phases were released only about a month apart and now just a mere two months after the open beta phase, the product is ready for general release and available through Ubuntu’s software center for download.
This announcement is definitely a good start for Valve and Linux as a step in the journey for more open computing and a more competitive operating system. The combination of a serious entity like Linux with a mega game developer and digital retailer like Steam can only be a huge success for both. The question is the gaming world ready to go full steam ahead with Linux?