Get Your Game On - Running Windows Games in Linux

Windows gaming on Linux has its ups and (mostly) downs, but there are viable options for some games.
CrossOver Office

CrossOver Office is, again, a commercial product designed for running “serious” Windows programs, but that doesn't mean you can't use this software at least to attempt to play games. CrossOver Office is available from the CodeWeaver's Web site (see Resources), and once you have it installed, you can convince it to try installing any Windows program that isn't on its list by launching its Install Windows Software tool and clicking the Install unsupported software button.

As with the others, don't get too excited if you can get a game installed. That doesn't mean it will run. For example, World of Warcraft does manage to install under CrossOver Office—mind you, the text on the installer's buttons is almost too tiny to read—but SimTower's installer malfunctioned and wouldn't work. I found an old RISK CD lying around and discovered to my amusement that it refused to install because it works only under Windows 95.

In fact, World of Warcraft's opening movie plays under CrossOver Office as well, and the game starts and is able to start downloading patches. Although it crashed at this point, frankly I found it impressive that the software even got that far. That encouraged me to pull out something older. I tried The Sims but that made the CrossOver Office installer decide that it suddenly couldn't access the hard drive. SimCity 2000 not only installed, but actually plays, albeit a bit slowly on this system.

Figure 2. SimCity2000, being played under CrossOver Office 5.0beta1.


Due primarily to the expense (VMware Workstation costs nearly $200 US), most people who use VMware are doing so for work-related reasons. However, again, if you have this virtual machine tool lying around, and your computer is powerful enough to run a VMware session quickly enough to play mainstream games inside without problems, then this is another avenue to explore. On the same machine in which Win4Lin with Windows XP crawled, Windows XP under VMware runs at perhaps twice the speed.

VMware so far is the only one out of the bunch that was able to launch the installer for The Sims. Not only could VMware install it, it could actually run the game.

Figure 3. The Sims, being played within Windows XP in VMware 5.

Then I figured it was time for the big test, World of Warcraft. First I had to allocate more hard drive space to my VMware session, which involved figuring out how to get Windows XP to see and use the new drive (a process I did not find intuitive at all, not being a Windows XP user aside from the occasional screenshot). Once the installation was complete, I tried to launch World of Warcraft and was told that 3-D support couldn't be started, so I finally got around to installing the VMware Tools package, which is supposed to—among other things—improve graphics performance. Although some might claim that VMware doesn't support Accelerated 3D, this is actually no longer true. However, that support is “experimental”, but it doesn't get much more experimental than this, so it's worth trying.

To turn on Accelerated 3D, it's important first to shut down the virtual machine. Once this is done, it's time to edit the .vmx file for the instance. The VMware documentation recommends adding the following three lines to the file:

mks.enable3d = TRUE
svga.vramSize = 67108864
vmmouse.present = FALSE

Once this file is saved and closed, go to the VMware window and select Edit→Preferences. In the Preferences dialog box, choose the Input tab, and click the Ungrab when cursor leaves window check box to remove the check mark. Doing so will make sure that your games don't run into confusion over the mouse pointer. Click OK to save the setting. With this done, it's time to bring the machine back up and try World of Warcraft again. The game detects the “hardware change” and offers to reload default settings. Unfortunately, it's not enough, though at least this time there was an obvious attempt to start the game.

Hoping that an update of the rarely used XP session will help, I submit myself to the ritual of update, reboot, update, reboot and so on. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. Too bad—World of Warcraft gets tantalizingly close to starting.

Now, can VMware use the half-and-half CD with Bejeweled? Yes and no. It recognizes that both parts exist and allows accessing the files, but it can't actually run the installer and doesn't seem aware of all of the files on the CD. The game does install and run though from files copied off of the CD and onto the hard drive earlier. Bejeweled will not run in hardware-accelerated mode either, so the experimental feature isn't quite there yet. Still, as it improves, the chance of being able to use VMware for higher-end Windows games does too. Hopefully by that point, however, there will be more mainstream games available for Linux natively.



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Anonymous's picture

asd is lliek wow, and she said who yer i was like u know adnd yer thats how i did it, increadibly it suad shse swas a fool wofr fo it and like yer, wtf is a sheep

im in shit

Anonymous's picture

how can i get age o empires 2 work on xfce window manager,(linux) i need help t_t im sad

Had an Idea, though it may

Anonymous's picture

Had an Idea, though it may be hard work. I won't try! But, if someone here have time, give it a try !

There it goes:

1 - Install WinXp and World of Warcraft(WOW) on a Machine in the same drive. Ex.: On Drive C. Configure everything so you can run WOW normally under WinXP.

2 - Install "Ghost Software". Ghost this Drive C and keep the Partition Image in another partition.

3 - Install VM in your machine. Create a WinXp VM Guest in it.

4 - UnGhost the previus "Partition Image Ghost" into the VMs Virtual Hard Drive.

The idea would be to have a copy of the host's OS into a VM that is running inside it !!

5 - Try to run WOW inside the VM. Shall it work ?

I belive it won't. But, who knows it !

Guild Wars

Arda Gunes's picture

I've tried your settings on VMware to play Guild Wars. Although there were some graphic corruption, its still playable with all settings on High. My guess is, they have improved 3D functionalty of VMware with recent versions (considering this article is written in 2005-11-29. I am currently using free-beta 6. 2007-04-10).

With the success of Guild Wars, i also tried Warcraft 3, Warhammer 40k Dawn of War. They were a bit slower, but that was expected. Other then that, games run fine with VMware.