Valve has officially confirmed that work has begun on Steam for Linux, and has successfully ported Left 4 Dead 2 to Ubuntu, the popular desktop version of the open-source operating system.
The news was revealed in the first post on the official Steam Linux blog, which confirms that Valve has set up a new team dedicated to work on bringing L4D2, the Steam client, and the company’s other games to Ubuntu.
"The goal of the Steam client project is a fully-featured Steam client running on Ubuntu 12.04," the post reads. "We've made good progress this year and now have the Steam client running on Ubuntu with all major features available.
"We're still giving attention and effort to minor features, but it's a good experience at the moment. In the near future, we will be setting up an internal beta focusing on the auto-update experience and compatibility testing."
While Left 4 Dead 2 is up and running on Ubuntu in native form, much work remains. Valve promises more information in the future on its bid to have the game running on Linux to the same standard as it does on Windows. There's no indication of a release date, of course; this is Valve, after all.
The famously secretive Valve seems to be opening up a little in 2012. There was the leaked employee handbook which detailed its flat, 'bossless' structure; a blog post which revealed its work on wearable biometric computing, and an extensive Gabe Newell interview which revealed that Dota 2 would be free-to-play "with twists".
Then, last week, came the announcement of Steam Greenlight, which sees Valve essentially crowdsource the Steam approval process, with users able to register their interest in games – even those that are still in development – to help Valve more efficiently cherry-pick from the thousands of submissions it receives. It's little surprise, then, that Valve is keen on involving its passionate community in development of Steam Linux.
"We want this to be a community of game developers, communicating with each other and talking about current and future efforts in a powerfully creative environment," the post concludes.
"After all, isn't that what open source is all about – the idea that collaboration and teamwork achieve amazing things?"
The move makes an awful lot of sense for Valve. It dominates digital distribution on PC already, and arguably on Mac too, but there's clearly an audience for games on Linux, as evidenced by the Humble Indie Bundle. The regular pay-what-you-want indie promotion offers games for PC, OSX and Linux, and it's the latter camp which tends to pay the most. The most recent bundle closed with an average Linux payment of $12.50, compared to $7.98 from Windows users and $9.99 from those on OSX.
Could it also, too, be paving the way for the rumoured Steam console? Rumours in March claimed that Valve was working on a console of its own, dubbed Steam Box, which would place Steam at the "center of an opening gaming universe." The comparison drawn at the time was Google's Android, but there are surely few better ways of fulfilling that goal than using a free, open-source operating system.