Why is linux poor for gaming?

I am a computer science student, and an admirer of Lutris initiative. I am keen to bring gaming to open source platforms and to learn no matter how matured the topic is. I am wondering why Windows outperform Linux in gaming, So I picked up books like Jason’s Gregory Game Engine Architecture and Tanenbaum’s Operating Systems. Nonetheless, I could not spot my desired point. I believe that Lutris community is the perfect one to provide me with some guidance and pave me the way.


By what basis are you making that judgement? We cannot answer the question as it has not been fully presented. I mean, to a good many people here Windows does not outperform Linux.

Hi Touny,

the topic of yours is way difficult and long term to explain.
If you provide us some examples, we could tell you why this is in the particular circumstances.

For instance,. Not all games are released on Linux, and many benchmarks show windows outperformance comparing to Linux. Steam’s DotA 2 is a rare exception

This is still way to general.
I Think you point on games, which dont have a real native version. For Example Ferals ports to Linux, they just use Eon, what is quite close to be the same as Wine. So those games use Emulation or API Wrapper to run on Linux. This costs more performance and the result is less fps.
Valve putted a lot love to the Linux version of Dota 2 and the results are great. So the most comparison Videos are not realy fair.

I’ve always understood it to be the idea of where the customers were. Linux use, in personal computers, is still very small compared to windows or mac. As such, more customers are on windows. So they make games for where the customers are. If we saw a major uptick in personal Linux machines, then they’d make games for Linux.

Edit: The reason why I don’t use Linux on my personal machines, is because of the lack of native Linux support for games. The more I learn about lutris though, its making me seriously rethink this. So much so, that I’m considering just backing up an image of my primary Alienware laptop, wiping it, and putting Mint on it. Just so I can use Linux, and game on it too.

The problem lies within game developers not supporting linux not the OS’s architecture itself. I have already got great support from Reddit’s community found here. Thank you guys for your kind response.

Not all games are released for Windows. Try playing Horizon Zero Dawn on Windows, for example.

A large part of this can come down to the fact that, until recently (well after Valve dropped Steam onto Linux but before they dropped Proton) video driver developers barely gave Linux an afterthought. It was a lucky day when their drivers were functional. Optimized in the manner that Windows drivers are? Ha, not a chance.

Things now are a lot better than they were, but there’s still ground to be covered on that regard. However, as Vulkan gets adopted those differences should shrink dramatically.

The same thing goes for game engines, really. Unreal ostensibly has a Linux version, but if I recall correctly some of the tools weren’t ported to Linux. Unity has treated Linux as first class citizen. Godot, which is an open source game engine, is gaining a lot of traction, and always had Linux as a target system. Again, as more devs work with engines that have Linux as a primary target the difference should shrink.

The remainder just comes down to not being native. The obvious performance loss is from not being native.

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Actually, I would say Wine does a great job of making Windows games accessible on Linux. Lutris does an equally great job of presenting wine in a functionally user-friendly way and I am in its debt.

But to digress somewhat…
To say something is “developed for Linux”, to me, means it should be designed to be installed and used on any machine with a Linux kernel, a shell, and maybe a graphics handling interface like Xorg/X11… And this should be the ultimate goal for anything Linux. The ultimate Linux game should start there, IMHO…

Linux allows for game development just as well (or maybe even better) as Windows. It’s merely a matter of popularity… And yes, that indeed makes the issue somewhat recursive: Windows being the primary gamedev target is strongly perpetuated by developers choosing it as a development target.

Originally, releasing high-end games on Linux was prerogative of porting enthusiasts (i.e. Loki Games, who ported HoMM 3, Heretic 2, Rune, Quake 3, Unreal Tournament…) and indie developers who actually got a big chung of sales merely for supporting Mac & Linux (e.g. Woflire Games, who released Lugaru on multiple platforms at the same time).

More recently, native Linux support was expanded by the gradual move of most engines to multiplatform support (like Ren’Py, where Linux support is usually just a matter of enabling a checkbox in the SDK), and some really big companies advocating multiplatform support for sake of even further increase of their incomes (most notably Valve, who ported their Source engine to Linux years ago, and even made an effort to make their own Wine wrapper recently… speaking of which, a Wine bottle is also a way some companies made low-effort “Linux port” releases).

Ultimately, lack of native ports for a large amount of software and videogames is probably the most influential factor in the slow grow of Linux popularity… And the reason for this lack of native ports is indeed the low popularity of Linux. However, the situation with games at least appears to improve with time (not to mention native releases and Wine support, some multiplatform engines actually allow for drop-in support of Linux binaries even if developers did not bother making a Linux release), and I’m hoping that regular releases of new Wine versions mean that the amount of Windows games and apps usable in Linux will continue to grow at a steady pace.

I hope we break such business model and free gamers from greedy companies’ policies

I think this topic of yours is connected to Lutris, but I also believe discussions on this forum should be more about the application and less about meta ideas of gaming on Linux. With all the respect to you and to forum admins (and please feel free to remove this post or let me know otherwise if you disagree with my point) I suggest to check out /r/linux_gaming subreddit instead, where we can provide you with more info if you needed.

If Lutris aims to bring gaming to Linux, then our discussion is at its core. Anyway, No other member objected.

Linux is a lot better for gaming, especially for native games, because OpenGL uses the full potential of the hardware, unlike the stupid and limiting DirectX. I can give you an example with 3 games I own on Steam and all 3 have linux version as well as windows ones:
• Half-Life 2.
On Windows, there’s a moment where Alyx has to enter an elevator and press the button in order to send both of you in the elevator down. But she doesn’t. She just gets frozen in a spot and that’s it. No matter what you do or what patches you install, she won’t budge. Needless to say you can’t continue progressing in the game because of that.
On Linux this problem doesn’t exist.
• American Truck Simulator.
On Windows when I enter Las Vegas from the North, there’s an area of that city where the game always runs like a comic book. Doing 80 mph when entering LV and the game enters in comic book mode there leads to piling up the AI in front of you just like on “Final Destination 2”.
On Linux I enter the city with 80 mph, slow down and stop at the traffic light normally - as it should be.
• Mad Max.
I don’t even cover the minimum CPU for this game. It requires an i5 and I have an i3 (4170). And on Windows when a heavy storm begins, frames drop down to 15-20 FPS and I have to save and restart the game in order to fix it.
On Linux it won’t matter whether I’m in a storm, driving in the wasteland or having an intense fight against the local criminals - smooth 60 FPS all the time, regardless of what I do at the moment. The game runs so smooth at maximum settings as if I have an i7, not an i3.

Aren’t first two just game bugs? As in, unlikely to be inherent to the whole OpenGL/DirectX thing?
…Also, OpenGL totally works on Windows, so it’s not a correct dichotomy. In fact, it works everywhere (except for Xbox because Micro$oft), so the argument you’re providing is more in the lines of “why would anyone use this crappy proprietary mess that also prevents you from porting your game and selling more copies?”, and it’s kinda over 20 years old.

It’s because Dota 2 uses native Vulkan.
Games on Lutris use a translation layer DirectX 11 to -> Vulkan.