Gaming on Linux is fantastic, but it’s not always straightforward. Valve has gone to great lengths to make thousands of Windows-only games playable on the Steam for Linux client, but hardware variation and frequent updates means things can break at a moment’s notice. Good Ole Games has an easy way to find native Linux games, but the GOG Galaxy client is only available for Mac and Windows. So, enter a new player that wants to bridge the gap by providing an open source Linux gaming client focused on providing nothing but games developed for Linux.
It’s called GamePad, and it’s been in development since early 2019, but now the developer has launched a $50,000 crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter to bring it from concept to reality.
Many of the existing distribution platforms leave something to be desired. Some allow DRM, preventing you from ever truly owning your games. Others lack a Linux client or are missing features present in their Windows counterpart. Many don’t support Linux at all, leaving us no choice but to either switch OS, try our luck with Wine, or go without it entirely. But one thing they all have in common is that they are Windows first platforms. Linux support is optional.
GamePad bills itself as a platform designed by Linux gamers and for Linux gamers. Beyond just those good intentions, all elements of GamePad — the client, the supporting libraries and the API — will be released under a FOSS license. This means the community and game developers can modify and improve the code, or even developer their own custom GamePad client.
GamePad is also promising no DRM, easy 3rd party integration of apps like Lutris and GameHub, and human curation of submitted games to ensure they actually run flawlessly on Linux.
You’ll Have To Wait Until 2022 Though…
I noticed via the Kickstarter campaign that while physical backer rewards are estimated to ship this Summer, the anticipated launch of the GamePad client is January 2022. So we’ll have to sit tight for nearly two years.
That being said, the developer mentions that GamePad’s current state is much more than a mockup. He’s developed a working prototype for the client and the server backend. This includes login and user authentication, the ability to browse the storefront, and game downloads and installation.
The roadmap ahead involves legal fees, developer outreach, marketing, security and penetration testing, and paying for hardware and server infrastructure. The pie chart above shows how GamePad plans to distribute its intended $50,000 fundraising target.
Early Criticism From The Linux Community
Liam Dawe runs GamingOnLinux.com and covering the Linux side of gaming is his full-time job. To say he’s critical of GamePad would be an understatement:
Dawe also tells me he’s worried that this is the undertaking of a single developer, which would be a massive and undeniably impossible task. He may be right, as the above distribution off funds doesn’t even touch the notion of hiring employees or additional developers.
Nick from the popular YouTube channel The Linux Experiment also raises a concern that touches on the fragmentation already running rampant in the Linux ecosystem:
I’m seeing some red flags myself, such as the creator’s account showing his last login to Kickstarter being nearly a month ago, as well as there being no way to contact him (try clicking the “Contact Me” button here and nothing happens).
EDIT: The developer does seem to be engaging with users on Reddit.
In the end, the community will speak with — or without — their dollars.
Is this something that interests you? Does the Linux community need what GameHub is proposing? Let’s talk about it on Twitter or Telegram. You can check out the Kickstarter video and GameHub campaign page here.