Startup Playtron – one operating system for portable consoles to rule them all

Ambitious startup Playtron is planning to create a single operating system for all portable consoles, The Verge reports.

Playtron CEO Kirt McMaster says that by purchasing a SteamDeck, users get a great device. But it is limited to games that are available only on Steam. McMaster believes that games from the Epic Games Store are no worse, so the Playtron project will come to the rescue.

The startup has a budget of $10 million, 18 employees, and ambitions to challenge Microsoft, Valve, and Apple.

Playtron is based on Linux, similar to the SteamDeck operating system, but obviously without being tied exclusively to Steam. It is a lightweight OS that replaces Windows or SteamOS on your portable gaming PC, but with fewer features and compatible games.

However, Playtron believes that within a year it will be able to compete with Windows in the market of operating systems for portable gaming computers.

“We’re in conversation with numerous OEMs and mobile operators to build and deploy Playtron devices around the world in the 2025 timeframe,” says McMaster.

He also said that AYANEO is preparing to release a new portable console with Playtron by the end of 2024.

The company says that Playtron will cost companies like AYANEO only a fraction of the price of Windows, about $10 per unit instead of $80.

In addition, the company assures that it has taken care of protection against cheaters, as Playtron uses the Fedora Silverblue base, which has an immutable file system. Game developers will be able to request digital signatures of the build and each system DLL.

The company plans to generate signatures for each OS version as well as for all DLLs. Using the Playtron SDK, a game developer will be able to get a signature of the current configuration on the device and then access the backend to make sure it is a genuine version of Playtron.

The company has set its sights not only on portable gaming computers like SteamDeck. The company is confident that laptops, tablets, smartphones, TVs, and even cars will soon become at least partially gaming platforms.

Remember when Apple tried to port major games to its own ARM-based silicon? McMaster says he hired a Box86 emulator developer to port Windows games to efficient ARM-based silicon.

In addition to the Box86 developer, Playtron’s team includes the developers of ChimeraOS, which borrows heavily from SteamOS, and Heroic Games Launcher, which makes it easy to play Epic Games Store and GOG games on Linux laptops.

Co-founder and CTO Frank De Girolami was a programmer and later a leader in the development of Alone in the Dark, which pioneered the 3D survival horror genre.