Nearly all games for PCs are written for the Windows operating system. Some are also written for OS X (Apple). Although there are some excellent games that run on Linux without extra steps, they are usually smaller, and not sold in stores.
Throughout the years there have been many efforts to make it easier, or even just possible, to run games intended for Windows on Linux. All of them center on software known as Wine. Wine is a long term effort to recreate as closely as possible those APIs and .dll files that Windows uses when running games and applications. While it’s possible to use Wine on its own, there have been efforts to make the process simpler. Two of the best known of these are Crossover Games, and Play on Linux.
Play on Linux is a free project from France that endeavors to simplify installing Windows programs (including games). It’s a breeze to install, but only seems to run certain applications – for me, iTunes and the Steam store are fine, while IE 7 and Firefox just won’t run even though they are listed as installed. Play on Linux did install and run the original Diablo with no problems, as well as Diablo 2, using the “install additional applications” method. This uncertainty over which programs install and run and which do not, might be due to the script-dependent nature of the program. Some scripts are written correctly while others may be off.
PoL installs Wine versions per application, presumably according to what the script writer decided is the most compatible Wine for each game.
Codeweavers is a well-known company that offers what you can consider a deluxe version of Wine. They make things pretty simple to install. They offer 2 products for Linux, one for non-game applications (Crossover Linux) and one for games (Crossover Games). They also provide programs to let you run Windows programs on OS X (Macintosh).
You can obtain a demo version of each program via email. The Games demo is good for 7 days. That isn’t 7 days from time of installation of the demo, that is 7 days for each installed game, and the countdown starts when you install a game. Each game creates a “bottle” (a Crossover technique). Unless you decide to pony up the $40, each bottle will last 7 days which seems a pretty good deal. Besides the fact that you can pop in any game and use Crossover to install it, they have a list of supported games, and another list of unsupported but “we are pretty sure it will work” games.
I have to say, Crossover made it easy to install The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind, an excellent role-playing game. Any time I tried to use regular Wine, I ran into problems after installation where the game didn’t see the CD in the drive. This didn’t happen at all with Crossover.
Both programs have forums, and I’ll be checking the forums for Play on Linux just to see if I can fix some of the issues it has. When games work, they work great – but if they don’t, I guess you are expected to try editing the script that someone else created.
Crossover Games offers limited support for the paid version.They don’t exaggerate how well games work (or don’t work). Their forums seem to be fairly active. They feed back most improvements to the vanilla Wine code base, and have a very solid reputation in the Linux FLOSS community. If you simply must play games that are made for Windows, you cannot go wrong with them.