Valve has been working hard on getting anti-cheat systems like Easy Anti-Cheat and BattlEye to be compatible with Steam Proton. This is part of a larger effort, of course, to increase the playable game library on Steam Deck (and by extension, all of Linux). Even before launch, we’ve seen positive results come from the initiative. But gamers have been hoping that one of the heavy hitters, Fortnite, would eventually be playable on Steam Deck.
After all, the more popular games that Steam Deck has, the more “legitimized” it becomes as a console.
Sadly, Epic bossman Tim Sweeney has shattered those hopes.
Twitter user @Stormy178 reached out to Sweeney today with the following question: “[…] any plans to update Fortnite to make Proton/Wine be compatible with EAC and BattlEye anti-cheat on Linux?”
Sweeney responded with a solid “no,” but did offer a small light at the end of the tunnel. “There’s a big effort underway to maximize Easy Anti Cheat compatibility with Steam Deck,” he says.
Pressed for a specific reason for the decision, Sweeney responded that Epic doesn’t “have confidence that we’d be able to combat cheating at scale under a wide array of kernel configurations including custom ones.”
UPDATE February 8, 9:10am: People understandably wanted Sweeney to drill down even further into his reasoning. When accused of not trusting his own product, Sweeney’s response was:
“With regard to anti-cheat on the Linux platform supporting custom kernels and the threat model to a game of Fortnite’s size, YES THAT’S EXACTLY RIGHT!”
This isn’t about Sweeney not wanting to put the revenue-generating Fortnite juggernaut on Steam, either. Although let’s not kid ourselves, he definitely doesn’t want to:
Open-source Epic Games launcher Heroic is primed to be a great experience on Steam Deck, and it ships with the necessary bits of Proton to make Fortnite playable.
While this is incredibly disappointing news, it’s also a business decision. When developers large or small evaluate features, it comes down to weighing whether the expected result will justify the expense of money and time.
We’re all thrilled about the Steam Deck and what it means for Linux gaming, but it’s still an unproven piece of hardware. Perhaps if and when it starts selling like crazy and seeping into the mindshare of average gamers, Epic will reevaluate its decision.
I sure hope so. In the meantime, there are literally thousands of other playable games for Steam Deck.