3 Ways to Play Windows Games on Linux

We've already ranted a lot about the sorry state of gaming on Linux. However, we were also kind enough to tell you some of the best paid games for Linux. Many of the games were indie games, which are great for casual gamers expecting to kill some time. But, if you are a hardcore gamer who dual boots to Windows solely for the purpose of playing games, there are some nice ways in which you could stop yourself from hitting that dreaded reboot button.

Here are 3 ways to play those coveted Windows game right from your Linux desktop:

1. Wine

Wine is a free and open-source software that lets users run various kinds of Windows applications on Unix-like operating systems. Many users, including some developers often mistake Wine for an emulator. That however, is a longstanding myth within the software community. In fact, Wine stands for 'Wine is not an emulator', thus repudiating any such hollow accusations from the skeptics.

With Wine, users can run all kinds of games including the latest 3D ones without any significant drop in performance. Popular Windows games that run flawlessly on Linux using Wine include blockbuster titles like Final Fantasy XI Online, Guild Wars, Fallout 3.x, Left 4 Dead, Starcraft II and more. You may also see this list: 10 Best Windows Games That Can Be Played on Linux

Apart from running games, Wine can run various types of applications that are available only on Windows platforms. Users can also install popular proprietary software like Adobe Photoshop, iTunes and Steam.

Wine is a project which began its journey in 1993 and since then, it has been hugely popular with the Linux community. According to a survey, there are about 1.5 million currently using Wine. Having said that, Wine suffers from a lot of shortcomings, but thanks to the hard work of the developers they are being overcome one by one.

Installing Wine and playing Games: To install Wine, all you have to do is go to your package manager (eg: Ubuntu Software Center, Synaptic etc.) and search for 'wine'. Once you install wine, installing games isn't much of a problem. Just insert the game CD/DVD and click on 'setup.exe'. If the game is perfectly compatible (you may cross check with Wine DB first), then the rest of the process is exactly the same as on Windows.

2. PlayonLinux

PlayonLinux is a graphical front-end for Wine, which aims at simplifying the installation of Windows-based games and applications on Linux. PlayonLinux includes a database of most of the popular Windows applications out there. Whenever you search for particular software, let's say Left 4 Dead, PlayonLinux will automatically download the appropriate Wine version that works best with the game. What's more, it will also install any additional software that's needed for the game or application to work properly. The database is constantly updated and it even includes some of the latest games like Portal 2. Despite the gaming-oriented name of the project, PlayonLinux also helps users install applications like IE 6, Firefox (Windows version), iTunes on Linux, etc. Apart from making things easy for Linux users, the team has also created a Mac counterpart of the software and is titled PlayonMac.

Installing PlayonLinux: Installing PlayonLinux is very simple. Just go to the download page and choose the appropriate file for your distribution.

3. Crossover Games

Crossover Games is part of the Crossover suite of mixed-source applications that enable Linux and Mac users to install and use Windows-based applications. The suite, developed by Codeweavers, consists of modified, proprietary versions of the aforementioned Wine. Apart from acting as a user-friendly front-end to Wine, Crossover Games incorporates various patches and user-friendly configuration tools that makes it appealing to Windows migrants. The suite claims to fully support games like Counter-Strike, Half-Life 2, World of Warcraft, Call of Duty 2, Guild Wars and more. The most impressive thing about this software is that it provides professional support to its users.

Installing/Buying Crossover Games: Crossover Games is already available in the Ubuntu Software Center as a trial version. You can download the trial version, install an application of your choice and then register (buy) the suite online. To download, just go to Ubuntu Software Center and click on the 'For Purchase' tab. Finally, if your inner Stallman doesn't slap your wrist every time you buy proprietary software, the official website can be found HERE.


  1. AnonymousJune 09, 2011

    I love the Wine project and wish it great success. On the other hand I can't help but feel it prevents developers from being motivated to provide native game clients. Let's face it, software though Wine is still fairly poor quality and will never match it's native performance in Windows.

  2. @freebooter69:

    I beg to differ. I've seen better performance in a number of applications through Wine than I have on the same machine running Windows. While this is certainly not always the case, it's irresponsible to claim categorically that Windows will always outperform Wine.

  3. The Wine application database can be helpful in running many Windows compatible games on Linux systems. Day of Defeat : wine ubuntu 11.04