Ever since Valve announced their Steam Deck, it has been nothing but great news for Linux gamers and, by extension, soon-to-be Chromebook gamers. One of their original goals was to make anti-cheat software compatible with Wine and Proton (the programs that make Windows games work on Linux). This would directly benefit the official Steam support on Chromebooks – code-named Borealis – which was originally slated to release a public beta right about now. They’ve made it very clear that all the work going into the Steam Deck will also help the wider Linux community. We can now say for certain that they have started to deliver on their promise.
Why anti-cheat matters
What is the big deal with anti-cheat anyways? As the name implies, it prevents hackers from getting an unfair advantage in competitive online games such as ARMA, Fornite, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, New World, PUBG, Star Wars: Squadrons, and many more games that are on the market. No one likes playing against what is essentially an impossible-mode bot. Historically, anti-cheat software has not worked with Wine at all, and this is due to either the lack of technology or lack of interest from game developers. That’s all changing thanks to Valve. They’re making Linux mainstream in the gaming world.
Easy Anti-Cheat (EAC) was the first to confirm their full support for Wine. They published an update to their software so game developers can now enable and use it for their games today. A full list of games that use EAC can be found on their official website.
Coming off the heels of EAC, BattlEye was quick to also vocalize their upcoming support. Although it’s not ready for prime time yet, it’ll be arriving by the time the Steam Deck launches this December. A full list of supported games can be found on the main page of their website.
Last, but not least, we also have confirmation that XIGNCODE3 support is in-development. Only a handful of known games use this lesser-known anti-cheat. Aion – a popular MMORPG my wife used to play – uses it. Now she’ll soon be able to relive those memories by playing on our household Chromebook or Steam Deck!
Still work to be done
There is a caveat with all this. It’s up to the game developers, not the anti-cheat providers, to enable support for the anti-cheat in Wine (by default, it only works on Windows). In some cases, such as EAC, Wine does not use the same kernel-level protections (or intrusions, depending on who you ask) that it does on Windows. In theory, this makes it less secure. In practice, I doubt it will make much of a difference. Only time will tell.
What games are actually going to enable support for Wine? The awesome folks over at The Verge reached out to game developers to ask if they had any plans to enable Wine support for their anti-cheat software. In summary, about a third of them said yes, a third said maybe, and a third had nothing to comment on at this time. There was not a single “no” so far, so that is very encouraging!
Do any games you want to play use anti-cheat? Are you looking forward to playing these through Borealis on your Chromebook, via a Steam Deck, or on a regular Linux computer? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!