How to Play Games on a Linux Distro

Microsoft’s Windows continues to dominate the operating system market with no sign of this position abating. Even with pressure from Apple and its Mac and iPad ranges attracting more and more customers, Microsoft’s stranglehold on the computer market prevails.

Although many analysts have looked at Apple as the company that could knock the Redmond-based company off its perch, it may actually be the open-source community that finally does it.

There have been discussions within the community for quite some time now that Microsoft seems to be working on making its applications compatible with Linux operating systems, a sign that it may eventually give up on selling operating systems in favor of making money from its enterprise and cloud services.

However, regardless of Microsoft’s long-term plans, we’re a long way from any merging of kernels. This means that Linux users are still reliant on software developers making applications that are compatible with their OS, often leaving them without access to industry-leading suites like Adobe Creative Cloud.

However, one area that has improved a lot recently has been gaming. In the past, many tech-savvy people have been put off from making the leap from Windows to a Linux distro because it would mean giving up on playing their favorite titles. But that’s no longer the case and you can play almost as many games on Linux as you can Windows 10. Here’s how.

Browser-Based Games

The easiest games to play are those available on a browser. If you’re running a distro like Ubuntu or Mint, you’ll almost certainly be using Firefox or Chromium as your browser. Both support the latest HTML5 standard that most web programmers use to create games.

This means you can enjoy titles like Old School Runescape, Spelunky, and Fallen London without having to download any extra software.

To play them, just navigate to the game or publisher’s website and follow the instructions. It is as simple as that.


Google’s Stadia is a great option for underpowered Linux computers as the bulk of the grunt work is carried out on the tech giant’s servers rather than your local machine. You just need to install a copy of Google Chrome and make a few tweaks to get it running.

If you can do that, you’ll have access to Google’s library of AAA games like Red Dead Redemption 2, Mortal Kombat 11, and DOOM Eternal.

Translated and Emulated Games

Sometimes there’ll be a game that you want to play but still can’t find an official Linux version. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean you can’t play it, it just means you’ll need to do a little extra work to get it running.

Some gamers used to install virtual machines using software like VMWare to run Windows inside Linux, but this ties up a lot of resources and can cause your games to lag.

A better option is to use the translation application, WINE, which can make your game work within the Linux environment. WINE isn’t an emulator like BlueStacks or RetroArch. In fact, its name is an anagram for “WINE Is Not an Emulator”.

Regardless of this technical and etymological pedantry, all that matters is that WINE will let you play most games on your Linux PC. Many game developers such as PokerStars even provide instructions on how to use WINE to get their software working on Linux.

WINE’s developers keep a list of the games that run with their tool. According to their database, there are 556 first-person-shooters, including Doom, Half-Life, and Quake, 31 puzzle games, 524 role-playing games, and 906 strategy titles.

Ported Games

You’re not limited to emulator-based games either. Many publishers of PC games are now also making their titles available on Linux with ports that run natively on the operating system.

In fact, if you don’t want to use Stadia, you can still play all of the games that are available for it because the Stadia servers run on Linux. Therefore, they’re all compatible with the OS.

Steam also works on Linux and has a long list of games that are compatible with most major distributions.

With all these options available, gaming on Linux is getting close to reaching parity with Windows. As compatibility improves further, there will be fewer reasons for users to make the switch to the open-source OS.

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