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When it comes to gaming, Windows users are at the top of the pile. They get the latest games, with the best technology, and the most jaw-dropping visuals. All while Mac and Linux users have to sit on the sidelines. Until recently, users of the latter operating systems had the choice of either using a dedicated Windows PC (or managing a Windows partition, and dual booting), or to get a games console.
Thankfully, Valve has been doing some stellar work when it comes to making things more universal. First it added Steam for Mac, in May 2010. Then in February this year it released Steam for Linux, finally adding the third major x86-based platform to its portfolio. It also did a good job of porting its own games to run on all three platforms, as well as convincing third-party developers to share the gaming goodness, and make their games run on the new versions of Steam.
The result? There are around 100 Steam games that run on Linux, and about 160 for Apple users. And they’re all available by just installing Steam – none of the tricks, hacks, and emulators that you needed to run games on this platforms before. Now, not only does this mean that Mac users can install games on their beloved Apple computers, or that Linux users no longer have to sully their hard drives with Windows partitions, it also means that gamers from those platforms can game together.
No longer will the computer, or operating system, of choice be a determining factor in having fun on a Friday night. Just make sure everybody has the same games – and most are cheaper now, in the Steam Summer Sale – and you’re golden.
With thousands of games on Steam it could be difficult finding out which ones work on all three platforms, but fortunately the Steam store keeps a handy list – you just have to know where to look. Using the search filters, narrow down the list to Linux games (of which there are only 100) and then select games that have cross-platform multiplayer. The resulting list, for now, has 13 games that let you rock out with friends from all operating systems. There are also 12 games that have co-operative play across platforms, though there is overlap between the two lists. In total, there are 20 unique games that let Mac, Windows, and Linux users game together.
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Trine 2 – Side-scrolling action puzzler, supports co-op and multiplayer
Planetary Annihilation – Currently in alpha, real-time strategy space opera, supports co-op
Left 4 Dead 2 – Run from zombies, or shoot them, with up to 4 friends, supports co-op
Killing Floor – Like Left 4 Dead, with clowns instead of zombies, supports co-op and multiplayer
Dungeon Defenders – Trippy action RPG where you take on waves of enemies, supports co-op
Awesomenauts – Saturday morning space cartoons meet rocket launchers, supports co-op
Guns of Icarus Online – Team Fortress 2 with steampunk airships, supports co-op
Conquest of Elysium 3 – Dungeons and Dragons for the internet age, supports co-op and multiplayer
Serious Sam 3: BFE – This game has a weapon that shoots cannon balls, supports co-op
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Shank 2 – hyper-violent fighting game with guns and machetes, supports co-op
Steel Storm – top-down air combat in 3D cities, supports co-op
Galcon Fusion – Space Invaders where you get to control the invaders, supports co-op and multiplayer
Champions of Regnum – World of Warcraft without a monthly subscription, supports multiplayer
Team Fortress 2 – popular free-to-play game where you shoot people and collect hats, supports multiplayer
CounterStrike: Source – good guys vs bad guys with AWP sniper rifles, supports multiplayer
Anomaly 2 – tower defence game that puts you on both sides of the battle, supports multiplayer
Postal 2 – a very bad, but fun, game where you can shoot people, supports multiplayer
Cubemen 2 – Lemmings meets Pac Man meets tower defence, supports multiplayer
Altitude – upgradeable cartoon planes battle for air supremacy, supports multiplayer
Oil Rush – Battleships in 3D – with oil rigs, supports multiplayer