How To Play Windows Games On Linux
How to play Windows games on Linux – If you are sick of Windows but don’t want to give up your PC games, don’t worry. Today, playing games on Linux is much easier than it used to be thanks to Steam Play and compatibility layers like Proton and WINE.
There is no one “best” distro for gaming, but Ubuntu-based distros like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and Pop!_OS are good choices for their wide support and helpful community. If you have a different Linux environment on your system,
You may have to research the best way to install the right packages and drivers. However, you can almost certainly get the game working. Before trying anything, you should make sure your distro is equipped with the necessary graphics drivers.
Otherwise, Nvidia users will have to take the company’s official proprietary drivers, and AMD users will have to install the open-source Mesa driver. The procedure for installing drivers may vary from system to system, so we won’t go into it too deep here, but I used these instructions for Linux Mint for drivers and these instructions for some additional Vulkan packages, which yielded good results.
Now, before we move on, temper your hopes just a tad. While Linux gaming is easier than ever, it’s still not on par with Windows. Some games won’t run at all, and others may have minor graphic quirks or a drop in performance. Others may require some Googling and command line tweaking to play with.
The experience isn’t quite as buttery smooth yet — it’s still very Linux-y — but once you’ve got the basics down, you might be surprised at how many games you can run. Here are your options.
Find Linux Compatible Games
Linux has gained quite a bit of ground in the gaming world, and several valuable titles are natively played on the platform. When you’re gaming shopping, try filtering your digital store with Linux-friendly titles. On Steam, for example, go to the Store tab, click the Games drop-down, and choose SteamOS + Linux to see all of Steam’s Linux-native games.
You can also search for the title you want and see which platforms are compatible. If you see the little Steam logo next to the Windows logo, it means it’s compatible with SteamOS and Linux. You’ll find plenty of indie games alongside some of the biggest names in the game like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Civilization VI, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Other stores have similar filters. On GOG.com. Head to Store > Browse All Games > All Games for Linux. Every game with the little penguin icon must be compatible. The same goes for The Humble Store, where you can go to Browse > All and then filter Platform to Linux — look for that penguin icon. You might be surprised how many games were developed specifically for your favourite open-source OS. But don’t stop there—it just gets better.
How to play Windows games on Linux With Proton / Steam Play
Thanks to a new tool from Valve called Proton, which takes advantage of the WINE compatibility layer, many Windows-based games are actually playable on Linux via Steam Play. The jargon here is a little confusing—Proton, WINE, Steam Play—but don’t worry, using it is dead simple.
When you open Steam on Linux, look through your library. Some games have a blue, clickable Install button even though they are not listed as compatible with Linux in the store. The game is cleared to run under Proton, and playing it should be as easy as clicking Install. In my case, both NieR: Automata and Doom are proton-ready out of the box.
If you’re shopping for a Proton-compatible game, you’ll run into trouble because the Steam Store doesn’t show you which games are compatible. Instead, you’ll have to look at your existing game library to see which titles can be installed. What makes things even less obvious is that a lot of games will work with Proton, even if Steam hasn’t officially cleared it up for duty.
This is where ProtonDB comes in handy. This is a community-curated list of games that work under Steam Play with Proton, along with details on what hardware, which version of Proton, and any tweaks needed for optimal performance. For example, Dishonored does not have a blue Install button, but is reported as “Gold” by ProtonDB users, meaning it should be very playable.
To install an unsupported game, go to Steam settings, go to the Steam Play tab, and check the Enable Steam Play for All Other Titles box. You can then install and play any game in your library. Keep in mind that many won’t work, but ProtonDB can tell you which titles will get the best results. If you’re having trouble, try sorting the report by your CPU or GPU to see logs from people with similar hardware.
If the ProtonDB list says that the game works with a specific proton version, you can right-click the game, head to properties, and check the force use of a specific Steam game compatibility tool to select the right one. You can also click the Set Launch Options button to include the additional flags mentioned in the ProtonDB list. It might take a bit of trial and error to find what works, but I was able to get a few games up and running with a bit of fiddling.
How to play Windows games on Linux With Lutris
Proton isn’t the only tool that brings Windows-only games to Linux. Lutris is a game management program designed to run games under WINE and other emulators or compatibility layers. It acts as a one-stop shop for all your games, with a one-click installation script that includes all the necessary tweaks. That said, it may still take a bit of command-line work to get up and running, so it helps to have a little Linux experience, as you’ll be rooting through some documentation to put all the pieces together.
You can install Lutris using these instructions, although your favourite games may need some other packages before they will work properly. On the first startup, Lutris told me that I needed certain 32-bit drivers, along with WINE and its dependencies, installed before the game would work. Then, on top of that, the game in question may require some extra packages – Overwatch, for example, requires some prerequisites to properly Battle.net.
Lutris should point you in the right direction when you go to install certain games, but the instructions aren’t always perfect. As a result, you may experience some hiccups when you install all the prerequisites, depending on your system and experience level.
Once you’ve installed all the packages, setting up the game should be pretty simple: search for Lutris, click the Install button, and Lutris will prepare the game with optimized WINE settings. Note that some games may run very slowly until they finish compiling the shaders, after which the performance should be more playable – you will have to wait for a little after opening the game for the first time before it runs smoothly.
Every Game Is Different
This is far from the only way to run games on Linux, but most modern big-name titles you can run should be available via one of these means. If you have a particular game you want to run that is not available through the resources above, do some Googling on that particular game. Some may require a bit more fiddling to get running, though you can probably skip the legwork with a similar WINE-based tool like PlayOnLinux.
If you got the game working via one of the methods above but run into problems, there may be specific settings you need to tweak, dependency packages to install, or patches to apply to the game – again, ProtonDB is a great resource. Don’t be discouraged, and don’t be afraid to ask for help in a community like /r/linux_gaming (after searching to see if your question has been asked, of course).
And hey, if all else fails, you can always stream games from the cloud using Google Stadia, or from your home, Windows PC using Steam’s Remote Play or Moonlight — check out our guide to in-house game streaming for more information.
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Mustafa Al Mahmud is the Founder and CEO of Gizmo Concept and also a professional Blogger, SEO Professional as well as Entrepreneur. He loves to travel and enjoy his free moment with family members and friends.