How to Play Windows-only Games on Linux with Steam Play

The new experimental feature of Steam allows you to play Windows-only games on Linux. Here’s how to use this feature in Steam right now.

You have heard the news. Game distribution platform Steam is implementing a fork of WINE to allow you to play games that are available on Windows only. This is definitely a great news for us Linux users for we have complained about the lack of the number of games for Linux.

This new feature is still in beta but you can try it out and play Windows-only games on Linux right now. Let’s see how to do that.

Play Windows-only games in Linux with Steam Play

You need to install Steam first. Steam is available for all major Linux distributions. I have written in detail about installing Steam on Ubuntu and you may refer to that article if you don’t have Steam installed yet.

Once you have Steam installed and you have logged into your Steam account, it’s time to see how to enable Windows games in Steam Linux client.

Step 1: Go to Account Settings

Run Steam client. On the top left, click on Steam and then on Settings.

Step 2: Opt in to the beta program

In the Settings, select Account from left side pane and then click on the CHANGE button under Beta participation.

You should select Steam Beta Update here.

Once you save the settings here, Steam will restart and download the new beta updates.

Step 3: Enable Steam Play beta

Once Steam has downloaded the new beta updates, it will be restarted. Now you are almost set.

Go to Settings once again. You’ll see a new option Steam Play in the left side pane now. Click on it and check the boxes:

  • Enable Steam Play for supported titles (You can play the whitelisted Windows-only games)
  • Enable Steam Play for all titles (You can try to play all Windows-only games)

I don’t remember if Steam restarts at this point again or not but I guess that’s trivial. You should now see the option to install Windows-only games on Linux.

For example, I have Age of Empires in my Steam library which is not available on Linux normally. But after I enabled Steam Play beta for all Windows titles, it now gives me the option for installing Age of Empires on Linux.

Things to know about Steam Play beta feature

There are a few things you should know and keep in mind about using Windows-only games on Linux with Steam Play beta.

  • At present, only 27 Windows-games are whitelisted for Steam Play. These whitelisted games work seamlessly on Linux.
  • You can try any Windows game with Steam Play beta but it might not work all the time. Some games will crash sometimes while some game might not run at all.
  • While in beta, you won’t see the Windows-only games available for Linux in the Steam store. You’ll have to either try the game on your own or refer to this community maintained list or a better-looking web version of the same to see the compatibility status of the said Windows game. You can also contribute to the list by filling this form.
  • If you have games downloaded on Windows via Steam, you can save some download data by sharing Steam game files between Linux and Windows.

I hope this tutorial helped you in running Windows-only games on Linux. Which game(s) are you looking forward to play on Linux?

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