Everyone is getting geared up for Steam launch on Linux, but Canonical most of all. As the officially announced supported platform for Steam, Ubuntu must be in tip-top shape for gaming.
The reason why gaming never really took off on the Linux platform is not because of the lack of interest, it's about the divergent will of most developers.
Every distribution uses different versions of the same driver, others use open source drivers instead of official ones, and so on. For years, the only driver available officially in Ubuntu's repository was 173.x. There was zero interest in commercial game, and very little for free ones.
Bryce Harrington, Canonical's Xorg maintainer, explained in a blog post why Ubuntu is now at the forefront of gaming, on Linux, and what will change in the near future.
“High end commercial games will often need bleeding edge driver support to get necessary fixes and features. But in Ubuntu we have to be very careful rolling out driver changes to users to avoid causing regressions, so this cutting edge support needs to be opt-in,” said Harrington.
“With Valve’s guidance and advice, we’ve put together some solutions which will address the game requirements yet still be end-user accessible,” continued Harrington.
In layman's terms, Ubuntu is going to push new Nvidia experimental packages, through the Additional Hardware configuration dialog. These experimental driver packages will track all the beta releases from start to stable for one major driver series.
This means that when Nvidia launches a beta driver with fixes for a specific game, Ubuntu's users will have access to that particular driver a lot sooner.
For Intel, they're going to enlist the help of x-updates PPA. Canonical and Intel have worked together to provide updates, under the name Intel Graphics Updates. This category will contain not only the drivers, but all the dependencies and the latest Mesa.
As you can see, there is no mention of ATI/AMD so the only conclusion is that they have yet to form a partnership.