Linux Returns to Cloud Gaming with CloudDeck

CloudDeck

Using Linux in the cloud is typically a no-brainer. A Linux instance on AWS, GCP and even Microsoft Azure is typically about half the cost of the same instance running Windows. And, for a while, one of the most popular cloud gaming platforms indeed did use Linux as its OS of choice in the cloud. Google Stadia was known (and sometimes criticized) for utilizing Linux based servers that required game developers to port their game to the open-source OS and the open Vulkan graphics API.

At the same time Stadia was struggling to attract more games, Valve was also going all in on Linux gaming by utilizing (and extending) open-source community tools like WINE/Proton, DXVK and VKD3D. Valve’s approach allowed Windows games to run under Linux without any porting process or modifications whatsoever. This approach allows tens of thousands of Steam titles to run under Linux and on Steam’s handheld Linux device – the Steam Deck. See ProtonDB for a database.

Before Stadia’s ultimate demise, the Stadia team did make an attempt to replicate the functionality of WINE/Proton in its own SDK. Why they chose to re-invent the wheel instead of simply using the free and open-source tools available from the community will remain a mystery. Regardless, the teams’ efforts proved to be too little too late, and Stadia ultimately shuttered.

Why does Stadia use Linux

Every cloud gaming service since has utilized Windows on the server side to avoid this compatibility issue altogether. GeForce NOW, Boosteroid, Amazon Luna, Shadow PC and other services all utilize Windows instances in their datacenters. The extra cost of those Windows instances are no doubt passed onto to the gamer.

Enter CloudDeck

CloudDeck is an upcoming cloud gaming service based in Europe that is poised to bring Linux servers back to cloud gaming.

CloudDeck is to cloud gaming what the Steam Deck is to hand held gaming. CloudDeck lets you play nearly all of your Steam collection via a customized version of Steam’s Linux client running in the cloud with all the same game compatibility that WINE/Proton provide on the Steam Deck. In other words, you can play thousands of games! Over 13,000 games to be exact.

Other than running on Linux servers, the service offers a lot of the same features of other BYOG (Bring Your Own Game) cloud gaming services that utilize Steam and other PC Stores. You can play the PC games you already own on a wide variety of devices from phones to Smart TVs – no console required.

CloudDeck Features

While utilizing Linux instances should save a bit of money on the server side, CloudDeck doesn’t have the advantage of producing their own GPUs like NVIDIA does. From their initial posting, it looks like the monthly price will come in close to NVIDIA’s Ultimate tier ($19.99 a month) – but without some of the 4K RTX bells and whistles team Green is able to provide.

CloudDeck Specs and Pricing

The CloudDeck specs are certainly still impressive, though, and the large game library could prove to be a selling point. You can reserve a spot on their website to get first access for the when the service launches in the near future.

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Jack Deslippe

Jack Deslippe is an HPC professional with a PhD in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley. As a hobby, he is passionate about consumer technology and Cloud Gaming in particular. He volunteers as an editor for Cloud Dosage in his spare time. See the games Jack is Playing at ExoPhase. Like his content? You can follow Jack on Threads: @jackdeslippe and Buy Jack a Beer.

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