Breaking Barriers: Linux Outranks macOS on the Steam Platform

Linux makes gaming history - as of July 2023, it outranked macOS for the first time as the preferred gaming OS on Valve's Steam platform.

Historically, Linux has been regarded primarily as an operating system for servers, developers, and tech enthusiasts, with gaming as an afterthought. Compatibility issues, limited game libraries, and a lack of support from major game developers marred its reputation.

However, in recent years, Linux’s gaming capabilities have radically transformed.

Efforts to create gaming-specific distributions and advancements in compatibility layers like Proton, developed by Valve, have paved the way for more games to run smoothly on Linux systems.

Coincidence or not, precisely two years ago, Linux reached the cherished 1% usage on the Steam gaming platform. But now, the open-source operating system is conquering a new high.

According to Valve’s monthly reports, in July 2023, Linux overtook Apple’s macOS as the preferred gaming OS for the Steam platform for the first time in history.

In July 2023, Linux overtook Apple's macOS on the Steam platform.
In July 2023, Linux overtook Apple’s macOS on the Steam platform.

According to the data, Linux is used by 1.96% of all Steam users, while macOS counts for 1.84%. In other words, it outperforms Apple’s operating system by 0.12%. Of course, the absolute dominator is still Microsoft’s Windows, with 96.21% usage.

There are no surprises in the distributions, with Arch Linux continuing to be the most preferred gaming OS over the last year, followed by Ubuntu 22.04, Manjaro, and Linux Mint. The only question is whether Valve’s Steam Deck, built on Arch, was considered when calculating the data.

Bottom Line

The historic achievement of Linux surpassing macOS as the preferred gaming OS on Valve’s Steam platform marks a defining moment in the evolution of Linux gaming. Of course, much of the credit for this goes to the company itself.

In 2018, Valve introduced Proton, a compatibility layer built on top of Wine and other open-source technologies, allowing thousands of Windows-exclusive games on Steam to run seamlessly on Linux.

Valve's Steam client runs on Linux.
Valve’s Steam client runs on Linux.

As the gaming community continues to recognize the capabilities of Linux, it is likely to attract more game developers to consider Linux as a viable target platform.

In addition to overtaking macOS in usage as a gaming OS, Linux is now very close to crossing the 2% barrier, which would be its next significant success. As always, we’ll keep an eye on things and keep you updated on any changes to Linux’s march as a gaming platform.

So, what do you think, “the year of the Linux desktop” is probably getting closer?

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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