Valve’s Steam Service has officially launched for the open-source Linux operating system. Having gone through several months of beta testing, it marks the first step towards a dedicated Steam Box that could challenge traditional games consoles for a place beneath your TV.
Steam first appeared for Windows in 2003, adding Mac OS X support in 2010 and growing into the world’s biggest digital games distributor, with over 50 million accounts and more than 2,000 titles. Its jump to Linux means it now supports all three major PC platforms.
Steam is a free download, available through the Ubuntu Application Center. As the most favorite Linux distribution, Ubuntu presently has more than 20 million users around the world, with many presently forced to either dual-boot or run Windows in a virtual machine in order to play the latest games.
The introduction of Steam to Ubuntu demonstrates growing demand for open systems from gamers and game programmers,” David Pitkin, director of consumer applications at Canonical, said of the release. “We expect a increasing number of game developers to include Ubuntu among their target platforms. We’re excited to seeing AAA games developed with Ubuntu in mind as part of a multiplatform day and date release on Steam.”
To celebrate the release of the new service for the open-source community, Valve discounted over 50 Linux-compatible titles available through the Steam marketplace. Many Valve titles, like Half Life, Counter Strike 1.6, Counter Strike Source and Team Fortress 2 are now fully playable on Linux, with TF2 gamers receiving a free in-game item the first time they log in through Linux.
As well as games, Steam for Linux also includes the newly introduced Big Picture mode, the full-screen user interface designed for TVs. This is seen by many analysts as the first step towards having a Steam games console in the living room.
More details regarding Steam for Linux, such as community discussion and official announcements, are accessible on the Steam for Linux Community Hub at http://steamcommunity.com/linux.