Where Steam goes, games will follow. Valve's games, at the very least--the company announced Ubuntu 12.04 support for the Source engine and Steam platform in July, practically guaranteeing we'll see Half-Life and Portal arrive on the open source OS eventually. Valve has been testing Left4Dead 2 on the platform already, and Serious Sam 3: BFE and Team Fortress 2 should be there for launch. But when will Steam for Linux be available?
Well, if you're lucky enough to make it into Valve's beta, the answer is "very soon." Valve has opened up 1000 spots for an external beta, but you'll have to fill out a web survey to get in. And if you're not running a current release of Ubuntu, you're probably out of luck.
Valve's efforts to expand Steam's support to Linux coincide with the release of Windows 8, which Valve CEO Gabe Newell has called "a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space." The next few years could shape up into a closed platform battle between the Windows Store and Steam, and the freedom of Linux might start looking appealing to developers if Valve helps expand the platform's game support. Steam Greenlight, the program designed to help indie developers get their games published on Steam, currently lists 151 entries with Linux support.
Of course, Steam isn't the only service working to spread the gaming love to Linux. Humble Indie Bundles V and VI offered games available on Linux for the first time, including Psychonauts, Bastion, Torchlight, and Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP. Popular development tool Unity is currently in Alpha for Linux. And Desura, a digital distribution platform, currently offers 203 Linux titles.
Linux support has a long, long way to go before it reaches parity with Windows or even OS X. But it's getting better. And even though it's unlikely that companies like EA and Ubisoft and Activision will port their major franchises to Linux, the success of Linux Humble Bundles should guarantee that more and more independent games will make their way to the platform over the next few years.