Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Why Aren't More Linux Users Gamers? 693

Posted by Zonk
from the all-about-the-games dept.
tops writes "MadPenguin.org wonders why more Linux users aren't gamers and attempts to answer that question. The article suggests, 'As far as I'm concerned, it all comes down to a choice. Expect the gaming industry to follow the Linux doctrine or instead, build up a viable, cross platform gaming market that includes us, the Linux users.' The article urges publishers to consider Linux users as a viable market, and requests that game developers target Linux as a platform during the pre-production phase." What do you think are the most important obstacles barring the big game publishers from reaching out to the Linux market more than they already do?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why Aren't More Linux Users Gamers?

Comments Filter:
  • by suso (153703) * on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:19PM (#22706112) Homepage Journal
    I have some experience trying to round up Linux gamers over the past couple years and what I've found is that there are some out there, but a lot of the people in my local LUG just weren't interested in playing games. I've hosted many events to try sparking interest, I even supplied the computers, but only a few people came each time. Perhaps the most common type of people that use Linux are now the ones that don't play games much anymore. Or at least not FPS, etc. Plus I found a lot of people made the excuse that they didn't have decent hardware for 3d games. Ironically, we might have better luck with Linux games if we had what we have now back in the 90s.
    • Trying to run non free software on Linux eliminates a lot of the advantages of running free software. Who wants to go back to the world of driver hunting? Sure, it can be done, there are distributions that make it easier and there's a lot of cool gaming that can be had but it still takes effort, almost as much as it does to keep up a Windows box.

      The market is growing and now is a better time than ever. The death of XP has a lot of gamers looking at Linux. They are going to be trying. Distributions lik

      • by CSMatt (1175471) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:27PM (#22706290)
        What "death" of XP are you referring to? XP is still the preferred OS for gaming and will probably remain in that position for at least another year or two.
      • FUD? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by WindowsTroll (243509) on Monday March 10, 2008 @08:30PM (#22710450) Homepage
        Driver Hunting? If you are referring to driver hunting for windows, I am sorry to inform you that this hasn't been an issue for YEARS. As for the effort for keeping up a Windows box - it takes almost zero effort.

        Getting proper drivers USED to be a problem back in the days of DOS games when Windows 2.11, 3.0 and 3.1 were still started from the command prompt. By the time Windows 95 rolled around, *almost all* hardware vendors shipped Windows drivers with their hardware, and game programmers were moving aware from writing to the hardware interface and instead writing to low level Windows primitives. After Windows 95, the only games that had driver issues were the OEM versions of games that were packaged with hardware since they were written specifically for a certain video card. An example of this was the nVidia Edge 3D card that shipped with Panzer Dragoon and Descent. How do I know this? I worked on the port of Descent to nVidia's 1st generation chipset, the nV1. This version of Descent was a Windows 95 native application that would only run with an nVidia card.

        Since about 2000, game developers have been writing to Direct X, and letting windows handle the details of the video card. Back in the Windows 95 days, Windows was pretty stupid regarding hardware recognition, and Linux was pretty smart about recognizing hardware. However, once it became established that the OS should detect the hardware and be able to find the drivers for it, Microsoft didn't take much time to figure out how to do this and provide a TON of drivers on the Windows installation diskettes/CDs. Any special hardware that you purchased came with Windows drivers. Drivers have not been an issue for years.

        The market for linux games is non-existent. To produce a top notch game these days costs several million dollars (the average cost was around $2M when I left the gaming industry 7 years ago) and the common perception, whether correct or not, is that linux users won't pay for a game. There might be some inroads on the MMORPG side of gaming since they make their money by charging you a monthly fee, but the standard boxed software market will not make a game for linux until it is established that linux users will pay for software. Given the emotional/religious arguments over OSS/Free Software/commercial(closed source), companies aren't going to deal the the hassle.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Crayon Kid (700279)

          As for the effort for keeping up a Windows box - it takes almost zero effort.

          Rrrright... zero.

          Pick an antivirus to run and constantly worry if it's good enough to keep up with all the malware; make sure the firewall is on at all times; disable unneeded services that are on by default and those that pop up by themselves misteriously later; disable stuff like indexing and restore so that they don't fuck up my drives; always on the lookout for spyware and malware, because I've seen systems with everything of

    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:25PM (#22706228) Homepage
      I use Linux and play plenty of games. I just don't play games on Linux, or on PC for that matter. I find it much more enjoyable to play games on a console than to play games on PC. I also like buying a game for the console, and knowing that it will just work, and I'll never have to wonder if my computer is good enough, or if there's going to be incompatibility problems.
      • PC gaming is dying (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sterno (16320) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:52PM (#22706782) Homepage
        The simple truth is that gaming on PC's, regardless of the operating system is dying a slow death. I'm a long time fan of PC gaming, but when given that:

        1) a gaming PC is substantially more expensive than a console
        2) you frequently have driver and other compatibility problems
        3) a number of PC games are launched in a rather buggy state
        4) the overall performance level of consoles has improved a lot in the latest generation

        There's just not a lot left that PC games can claim superiority on. Linux gaming is even more dead because it's a very small subset of PC gaming with a lot of complexities that make support very difficult. It costs more dollars per gamer to develop and support the platform, and on top of that, you've got an industry full of people that have a ton of DirectX experience which does no good on Linux (Wine aside).

           
        • by MooseMuffin (799896) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:07PM (#22707040)
          I agree with most of this except #3. Here in the age of internet enabled consoles, more and more console games are being released with bugs to be patched later.
          • by sterno (16320) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:17PM (#22707204) Homepage
            Good point. However, the major difference is that, given a consistent hardware platform in consoles, the bugs that are found tend to effect everybody and thus there's more of a fire under developers to fix problems quickly or get them right on release. Basically within a couple weeks of launch a game will be broadly playable for most people with maybe a few glitches here and there.

            With PC games there's nearly infinite hardware combinations which means that inevitably no matter how much QA you do, there will be bugs at release and so I think there's more of a tendency to assume that there will be bugs and that it's okay. Some people will find themselves completely unable to play the game, ever, even after several patches. A good friend of mine recently had to threaten Valve through the BBB in order to get a refund on a game that never worked on his system in spite of numerous patches. That's not a likely scenario on a console.
        • by yoshi_mon (172895) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:10PM (#22707106)
          The simple truth is that gaming on PC's, regardless of the operating system is dying a slow death. I'm a long time fan of PC gaming, but when given that:
          Here we go again...

          1) a gaming PC is substantially more expensive than a console
          Not for what you get. A console does not provide any real functionality outside of being a DVD player. PCs offer a very high level of functionality outside of gaming.

          2) you frequently have driver and other compatibility problems
          I am never sure what prompts people to say this. I've not had any sort of driver and or compatibility problems for years now. Are there some people that are still running MS DOS and trying to game out there?

          3) a number of PC games are launched in a rather buggy state
          Ok, this is a fair point. But thanks to the fact that they are PC games vs console games they are typically patched up quickly if they are a game of any real note.

          4) the overall performance level of consoles has improved a lot in the latest generation
          Huh? They always improve, when was the last time that consoles did not improve when they were bumped up a gen. Not even sure what your tying to say here. It's not like PCs hardware is standing still either.

          Linux gaming has it's own whole host of issues but dredging up the ol' PC gaming is gunna die argument really fails imo.
          • by sterno (16320) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:29PM (#22707378) Homepage
            1) Here's the thing, if I buy a PC to play DVD's, browse the Internet, etc, I can get something for $400-600 that does the job adequately. However, that system will not play games. If I want to play games I'm looking at a $1000-1500 box at a minimum. That premium is entirely about playing games and that extra horsepower goes almost entirely unused when playing a movie, etc. Besides, if you are playing games you'll need to upgrade at least once every 3 years where as consoles have about a 5-6 year life cycle. So it's even worse.

            2) Okay, well lucky you. I have. I know many friends that have. I know several gamers who will reinstall their operating from scratch routinely to keep kruft to a minimum and to keep the systems running smoothly. I've often had a game get installed, have glitches, require patches and driver updates, etc. On the other hand, every console game I've ever bought has worked out of the box.

            3) Console games are generally patched more rapidly and effectively than PC games because the hardware platform is consistent thus making glitches consistent. Much easier to QA and to track down issues when they happen instead of having a bunch of obscure bugs that pop up on random hardware configurations.

            4) What I'm saying is that when the PS2 came out, my PC was substantially faster than the PS2. When the PS3 came out, the overall performance was probably a little better in my PC, but not enough that I'd really notice with most games. That by and large, the hardware that's available for console gaming is no longer a limiting factor on the games. Heck, the wii demonstrates that you can make a compelling gaming environment on pretty low end hardware.

            Linux as a subset of PC gaming suffers from many of the same problems, hence my pointing it out. It has a host of issues all it's own, but the complexities of PC harware are pointing a giant bazooka at the foot of PC gaming.
            • by initdeep (1073290) on Monday March 10, 2008 @05:05PM (#22707978)
              hmmm

              Case & PSU $100
              CPU $200 (for a really good one)
              Mobo $75
              RAM $50 (for 2GB)
              HDD $100 (for 500GB)
              GPU $200 (for REALLY Good one)

              throw in the peripherals and other junk for about $100.00 and you are still well short of the $1000-1500 mark.

              And with the ability to buy a Quad-core dell with 22" monitor and all kinds of GPU for about $700 almost every month on some special or another....
              I fail to see how this is true.......

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                You must have things pretty good in the US (I assume you're talking US dollars). Here in the UK, you'd be lucky to get a decent system for twice the prices you're quoting there. I know the dollar is worth about twopence halfpenny these days, but still...

            • by ADRA (37398) on Monday March 10, 2008 @05:43PM (#22708486)
              "I'm looking at a $1000-1500 box at a minimum"

              1. Take a brand new Computer that has XP and a fast core 2 duo (Researching the fact that you aren't buying a non-upgradable lump of garbage like HP/Dell). ~$600
              2. Upgrade RAM to 2 GB ~$60 pessimistically
              3. Get a smoking graphics card ~200-250

              Total price: $900 or 30% more than what you were going to pay for anyways; That and a few days of passive specs analysis and 10 minutes installation time.

              "upgrade at least once every 3 years"
              If you're telling me that better games hit PC's more often, then point proven. If you're telling me that The same games you're running on your 3 year obsolete PC are now magically able to run on your 6 year old console, you're missing the point. Consoles are early into this generation and PC graphics have already long past their hardware specs. There is nowhere for consoles to grow for another 4 years in your words.

              But for PC's, if you really want a super duper bleeding edge piece of gaming godness, you can, but by no means do 'most' game devs shove ridiculously high requirements down your throat.

              I have a good rig in my eyes and I've spent a total of maybe $1000 over the 5 years that I've had it. That is not to say that all I do is game day in and out, it gets good use for many things like hi-def video (as its also a PVR / media PC).

              "Heck, the wii demonstrates that you can make a compelling gaming environment on pretty low end hardware"

              I absolutely love my Wii to death for the games that I play on it, but lets be frank, the CPU/GPU/lack of substantial storage hold it back from competing seriously in many gaming market segments.

              What I can agree to is that Linux gaming really isn't there yet, both in developer support and in market share. Developers interested in Linux work should take the approach of companies like ID/Epic and use/develop technology platforms which makes cross-platform porting simple. Since you need OpenGL pipelines for PS3's anyways, why not spend a little developer time to release an unsupported Linux client? Better yet, if there's a big pull on Linux then you may want to consider actually supporting it. But at this point I'd say Linux gamers will settle for 99% working binaries over waiting a year for Wine support.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by MrMunkey (1039894)
                Awesome post. I'd mod you up if I had points. There are two points that I'd like to make.

                1) PC Games typically work for a lot longer than the life of a console. I can still play some of my older Windows 95 games on XP, and DOSBox allows me to play some of my really really old games on anythign DOSBox runs on.

                2) The cost of a gaming computer would be better represented by taking the difference in cost of the gaming computer to the base computer. Let's say $1250 - $500 = $750. That's more accurate, t
              • by JSBiff (87824) on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:40PM (#22709880) Journal
                I'm not a Mac user, but I'd like to throw in that once you've developed OpenGL support you get PS3, Linux (maybe BSD too?), *and* Mac support, without really developing 3 rendering paths. There might be a little bit of IO/networking stuff that you have to do seperately for each platform (I'm not sure, but I bet a lot of that stuff is abstracted away if you use a good, cross-platform engine anyhow; something along the lines of GarageGames' Torque engine, Epic's Unreal engine,or Id's Doom III/Quake 4 engine, Crystal Space, OGRE 3D, etc).

                I don't see why more developers don't target OpenGL instead of DirectX. . .you get Windows support, plus a bunch of other platforms, if you want, too. Are there features in DirectX that are simply not possible in OpenGL currently?
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by LandDolphin (1202876)
              "Here's the thing, if I buy a PC to play DVD's, browse the Internet, etc, I can get something for $400-600 that does the job adequately. However, that system will not play games. If I want to play games I'm looking at a $1000-1500 box at a minimum"

              Not always true. Seems a lot of people think you have to have the top of the line system to play video games. I've played Shadowbane, EQII, WOW and Vanguard all on a Crappy E-Machines with a 9800 Pro. So, we are talking about $600 for a machine that has lasted
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Khyber (864651)
              "I can get something for $400-600 that does the job adequately. However, that system will not play games."

              Bullshit.

              Pricewatch.com

              My most recent gaming system cost me $550. That's sans an 8800 or the newer 9-series nVidia card, I'm running dual 6800s.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by mcvos (645701)

              1) Here's the thing, if I buy a PC to play DVD's, browse the Internet, etc, I can get something for $400-600 that does the job adequately. However, that system will not play games. If I want to play games I'm looking at a $1000-1500 box at a minimum.

              Nonsense. Only if you want to play Crysis on the highest settings do you need to spend that much on a PC. You can get an excellent gaming PC for much less, particularly if you want to play strategy games, which is where PCs excell. Consoles still don't come with a mouse (still the fastest, easiest and most versatile controller).

              What I'm saying is that when the PS2 came out, my PC was substantially faster than the PS2. When the PS3 came out, the overall performance was probably a little better in my PC, but not enough that I'd really notice with most games.

              That's because the PS3 cost as much as a PC when it first came out.

              Heck, the wii demonstrates that you can make a compelling gaming environment on pretty low end hardware.

              Exactly. In the end, it's the interface that matters most, and there are a lot of games for which a st

        • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:20PM (#22707236)
          It's not going to die at all. Computers are always going to be more ubiquitous than consoles and a great target for games because there are just so many of them already. The install base of computers is huge, and casual games are just beginning to tap a large portion of the potential. Whether these casual gamers will ever move beyond casual games is up for debate, but that doesn't mean that they're not games.

          Consoles are gaining popularity, and that's good. But they'll never come equipped with a keyboard and mouse because people already have one of those (a pc). RTS games are better and many people prefer the PC FPS experience. Valve develops for PCs almost exclusively, with their console offerings being really bad. Coincidentally, they're also one of the most popular publishers in the industry right now. Civilization has yet to make a console release, and it'll probably be sub-par.

          Finally, it's cheaper to develop a small game for a PC than a console, so independent companies release on the PC a lot. XBLA is changing that, but it's not going to change overnight and it's not going to completely dominate.

          So, the importance and dominance of the PC as the gaming platform is being diminished and will continue down that road for a while, but it'll never die. The install base and the setup will keep it going for a long, long time.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sterno (16320)
            What you're saying is 100% true, but this is the problem: what PC is sufficient for gaming?

            I don't know anybody who doesn't own a PC. But I also know very few people with PC's that are capable of gaming. Don't get me wrong, there will still be some market out there and the independent home brew developers will definitely continue. There will be plenty of room for people who want to play more casual games, but the market for PC games akin to what we see on consoles today will continue to dwindle.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Mascot (120795)

          a gaming PC is substantially more expensive than a console

          For the first few months of a console's life, quite true. It doesn't take long for mid-range PCs to catch up and overtake the current "next gen" console though. Still more expensive, but not by a whole lot.

          you frequently have driver and other compatibility problems

          YMMV I guess, but I can't even remember the last time I had any issues with getting a game installed and running.

          a number of PC games are launched in a rather buggy state

          No arguing with that.

          the overall performance level of consoles has improved a lot in the latest generation

          Covered in point #1.

          In the PCs favor is a much larger versatility in games. Also some people might be able to justify buying a bit more of a PC than they really need fo

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hatta (162192)
        I use linux and I play plenty of games. I play them on linux too. I just don't play many brand new games. I'm a classic gamer. Between all the emulators and compatibility layers, source ports, and unique unix games (nethack!) Linux is a gamer's paradise.

        I don't even care that there are new fancy games coming out that I can't play. I don't have enough time for the games I do have as it is.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by blindd0t (855876)
        I'm more of a casual gamer, and like the parent post, I often lean toward the console for gaming. I love using Linux to work, and occasionally, I need Windows for testing. Given that I need to have Windows available anyway, it only seems practical that I install Windows games on Windows rather than hoping the software to run Windows games in Linux works out. Am I wrong to venture a guess that this is likely the case for many (not necessarily most) who use Linux regularly? Between users like me and users
    • by samkass (174571) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:25PM (#22706242) Homepage Journal
      Perhaps the most common type of people that use Linux are now the ones that don't play games much anymore.

      I do think there's something to the argument that Linux users have already self-selected themselves into a group who don't prioritize games highly (or they probably would have stuck with Windows). It's harder to justify that as a group to spend a lot of time and money publishing games to.

      I think there's also the perception that a lot of Linux users don't like to pay for things. That their reaction to something that's cool and innovative is to say "gosh, I hope someone creates a free version of that!" I know it's not completely true, but it's a perception that would have to be fought to get more titles on the platform.

      And then there's the fact that Linux is in third place in desktop market share behind Win32 and MacOS X. If a gaming company is going to go risk the money, they'll probably go to the Mac first. By the time they get to Linux few will care.
      • by psychodelicacy (1170611) <bstcbn@gmail.com> on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:36PM (#22706448)
        I think you're right - perhaps we should also ask the reverse question: Why aren't more gamers using Linux?

        Anyone who started out on Linux (and there are probably incredibly few of them) probably never became a gamer (at least, not using thir computer). Anyone who started out on Windows won't want the hassles of moving their gaming over to Linux. If gaming is something you do a lot, then you're going to use the most convenient platform for it.

        Personally, I have a dual-boot. I play games and use photoshop on Windows, and I do most other things on Linux. The whole point of playing games is that it's relaxing; getting them to work on Linux kinda spoils that!
    • Truth is, most of us gamers have day jobs and don't feel like coming home and figuring out why the latest game patch doesn't work with Wine or Cedega. PC Gaming, for years, has tried to make the process simple, attempting to get to the console state of "put the disc in and play". The closest PC gaming has is Windows.

      I would love to have an open source OS that meets all my needs as a gamer, but I just don't see it happening anytime soon. Fedora 8 has their games spun version, but who wants to play a bu
    • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:41PM (#22706556)
      Because nobody makes games for linux. There are a lot of reasons for that:

      1. The linux user group is self-selecting to under represent gamers because of the dominance of windows. Since almost all games require windows, you either have to work with each game individually to get it working with WINE or dual boot windows; the extra work of Wine is a high hurdle with no guarantee of success, and dual booting eliminates disk space, ease, and makes it so you have to buy windows anyway. Emulation has almost all the same problems, it's just easier once it's running.

      2. The group that uses linux has a large portion of people that are unwilling to use closed source software. Since games are a pure luxury item, most people don't want to make a high quality, open source one (working to make one defeats the purpose unless you get pleasure from coding the game itself). If the game's closed source, it's automatically going to lose a significant portion of an already small market.

      3. Linux is a moving/amorphous target. Usually people get around this by using open source, since that means you can just compile against the new kernel and you're fine. But for a closed source, binary distribution this isn't as simple. The game manufacturers (who use a lot of tricks to make their games faster and better) would have to try to optimize for a platform that has multiple distributions and multiple hardware platforms (32 bit, 64 bit, solaris, mac) where there's no guarantee the kernel or the scheduler or the window manager will remain the same. In windows they can be sure that the movement's going to be steady and they'll have to release a compatibility patch infrequently.

      4. The biggest one is market share. The market for linux is already small because you have to be technically skilled to even think about using it, and yet that's what's required to even get onto the computer. That's changing slowly, but if you take a number that's less than 10% of all computer users and then take away from it as above, you're looking at a pitifully small market that requires a lot of work to address.

      As linux grows, so will demand, and these problems will get worked out. Until then, I'll just have to get used to the fact that I have a ten second window when my computer boots to decide whether I'm going to be playing games or if I'm going to be more productive.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by RedK (112790)

        3. Linux is a moving/amorphous target. Usually people get around this by using open source, since that means you can just compile against the new kernel and you're fine. But for a closed source, binary distribution this isn't as simple. The game manufacturers (who use a lot of tricks to make their games faster and better) would have to try to optimize for a platform that has multiple distributions and multiple hardware platforms (32 bit, 64 bit, solaris, mac) where there's no guarantee the kernel or the scheduler or the window manager will remain the same. In windows they can be sure that the movement's going to be steady and they'll have to release a compatibility patch infrequently.

        This more than the rest of your post, marks you as Linux ignorant. User space software isn't linked against the kernel. What you are describing is dynamically linked binaries against libc and other distribution supplied libraries like for gaming : SDL, OpenAL, Xlibs, Mesa. There are 2 ways around that particular problem :

        1- Ship statically linked executables. Loki Games (remember them ? they made ports of commercial games to Linux) did that back in 2001. I take out my HOM&MIII CD and install it

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by kisak (524062)

        Because nobody makes games for linux.

        I don't understand why Linux Game Publishing [linuxgamepublishing.com] don't get more credit on this page.

        The ones that are interested in commercial games on linux [tuxgames.com], should start buying the ones available. Then there will be more. If few want to spend money on games on linux then there will be less new and exciting games available, it is that simple.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bendodge (998616)
      Hmm, I just recently ran (someone else hosted; I got to fix the network) a small LAN party. We used a mix of XP, Vista and Kubuntu, and it worked fine with games like Urban Terror (great FPS, btw). Linux actually got better FPS's and was a lot more stable than Windows (esp Vista - what a nightmare).

      But truth be told, I'd rather play RTS than FPS. Warzone2100 is the only half-decent native RTS I've found for Linux, but it doesn't even have a LAN mode. I paid $40 for CNC3, and I'd pay even more for a Linux ve
  • alike.

    N
    You are in a twisty maze of little passages, all alike.

    E
    it is pitch dark, you are likely to be eaten by a grue.

    [DAMN!]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:20PM (#22706130)
    A Linux user AND a gamer?

    You CANNOT be a virgin twice.

    And your mom only has ONE basement.
  • by Dystopian Rebel (714995) * on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:20PM (#22706138) Journal
    Because we waste all our time on /. fragging Microsoft.
  • Biggest obstacle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:21PM (#22706158) Homepage

    The biggest obstacle: DirectX. It's API is only available on Windows, no other platforms, and (especially with DirectX 10 and Vista) Windows seems to go out of it's way to make OpenGL unattractive or non-feasible. That makes it difficult for game companies to target both Windows and non-Windows systems from the same codebase.

    • Testing (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Erioll (229536)
      While I agree that one codebase is a big part of it, I would also say that testing has quite a lot to do with it. Unless you have a decent rate of return on it, why test for more platforms than you really need to? And in Linux, the situation is SEVERELY exacerbated by the number of distributions, as enough of them (even the "big" ones) do it "enough differently" to completely screw you over on the small things. LSB is a great idea, but how much is it REALLY implemented?

      So basically, even if you were doin
      • Re:Testing (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Todd Knarr (15451) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:56PM (#22706846) Homepage

        I've found the best way to support Unix distributions is to not support them. Just support the software you need. If you need a particular version of a library, note that dependency. Keep your dependencies as general as you can, eg. never require version 1.4.5 of a library if you can work with any version 1 or 1.4. Config files have a standard location, usually /etc/softwarename and $HOME/.softwarename . Allow overriding this via command-line switches. At that point you won't need to worry much about variations between distributions, beyond "Distribution X only supports version 2 of package $XYZZY, we're coded to version 1 and v2 isn't backwards-compatible.".

  • The lack of good games and the wine-x payed for system that lets you run windows games is not as good as games built for liunx.
  • by Tavor (845700) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:22PM (#22706178)
    Submitter:What do you think are the most important obstacles barring the big game publishers from reaching out to the Linux market more than they already do?

    The "Games for Windows" campaign. I'm unsure on what the sticker requirements are for that MS programme, but I know this: I've not seen a single Games for Windows game that didn't require XP or Vista.
    In my opinion, it's Microsoft exercising a monopoly position in the Gaming Industry, but try proving it.
    • by Telvin_3d (855514) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:34PM (#22706404)

      I've not seen a single Games for Windows game that didn't require XP or Vista

      You haven't seen a single 'Games for Windows' that didn't require Windows? Shocking. And you know what, all those games in the boxes labeled X-Box sure don't play very well in my PS3.
  • The die-hard gamers will keep a Windows XP partition to play the games -- or they will get a console.

    I love games too much to sit around waiting for the day I can play them on the PC, and since I don't have Windows I just buy consoles.

    It's just not worth it anymore.
  • Since Linux use free software, they expect it. The gaming industry doesn't see much profit in spending money developing a game that people will scoff at paying money for.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JasonWM (991689)
      I don't believe anyone ever said games for linux had to be open source, or free of charge. I'd gladly pay for games that ran on linux platforms. Many of us use linux because we choose to use it, and if we do have to spend money, we just don't want it to go to Microsoft.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Insightful? I've _bought_ Doom 3, Unreal Tournament 2003, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, UT3 and Quake 3. All of which have native Linux binaries. I've bought many other games without native binaries that I've only ever played on Linux, including HL2 AND The Orange Box, Painkiller, Hitman, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Hitman: Contracts etc etc. If a game is worth playing, I don't begrudge paying for it.

      I would prefer all the software I use to be Free (with a capital F), but I'm somewhat pragmatic when it com
  • Market Share (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CSMatt (1175471) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:23PM (#22706192)
    Making a game is expensive, so logically you want to release it to the biggest audience you can so that you can reap the most profit (or at the very least make enough to hit the break-even point). Windows, with 85% of the OS market, has the most promise of giving you the highest audience in PC gaming.
  • common (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Scorpion265 (650012)
    One word, directx. I hate to say it but it rules the market and microsoft isn't going to be opening the source to that any time soon. Why on earth would developers waste the manpower to develop for such a niche market. I hate to play the devils advocate (I run gentoo as a desktop OS) but it's just not going to happen.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CSMatt (1175471)
      Well, nothing stops them from using OpenGL instead. Last time I checked, OpenGL does run in Windows, even if it requires third-party drivers to do so.

      Of course, I'm not a graphics developer, so there is probably more to this than simple vendor lock-in.
      • Re:common (Score:5, Interesting)

        by xtracto (837672) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:55PM (#22706830) Journal
        Well, nothing stops them from using OpenGL instead. Last time I checked, OpenGL does run in Windows, even if it requires third-party drivers to do so.

        Of course, I'm not a graphics developer, so there is probably more to this than simple vendor lock-in.


        And that, people, is what makes DirectX shine against Linux. Every time I see a discussion concerning Direct X, people in /. keep comparing it to OpenGL. To port a Direct X game into a non Direct X technology you would need *a lot more* than Open GL, Open GL would only be good for he Direct 3D part of Direct X, you still have *a lot* of other things that are not related to graphics (like DirectPlay, DirectSound, DirectMusic among others.

        Sure, you could try to glue several open source technologies like SDL, Allegro, OpenMAX, OpenML, OpenGL, OpenAL, FMOD and others to accomplish almost everything that Direct X provides you, but it would be a very cumbersome work and, as other people said, not cost effective enough for the 10% of market share that could buy your game.

        Whether people like it or not, Direct X is a beast of an API, if Microsoft made something right, it was Direct X , as everything is integrated in one specific package. Shure, the Open GL modelling paradigm is better than the Direct 3D one (or it was, about 4 years ago when I used to prorgram games using both of them), but the ability to have all those multimdedia features in one integrated API makes it worth it. And of course, you can also include the ability to use MS Visual Studio for the development.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ADRA (37398)
          Yo buddy, just because DirectX is 'a technology family' it doesn't in itself make it better than any other set of discrete technologies.

          Plus:
          PSP, PS2, PS3, N64, GC, Wii == OpenGL exclusive
          XBox / XBox360 == DirectX exclusive
          Windows X == DirectX/OpenGL
          Any Desktop Linux Distro / MAC OS X == OpenGL native, DirectX emulated

          OpenGL is a requirement for most game development properties these days unless of course you're going exclusive Microsoft platforms, so please drop this 10% market number.
  • There are plenty of Linux users who are gamers. Most just don't game in Linux...
  • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:25PM (#22706224) Homepage Journal
    Linux comprises about 1% of the desktop / notebook OS installed base. Even if ALL of that 1% were people that buy and play games regularly, it probably would only account for 10% that of the Windows game user base.

    Given the ideology of a lot of Linux users, a lot of that 1% might never pay for a game or want to use commercial / closed source software.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Linux comprises about 1% of the desktop / notebook OS installed base. Even if ALL of that 1% were people that buy and play games regularly, it probably would only account for 10% that of the Windows game user base.

      You are correct that install base is a major factor. That said, there are other factors at play:

      • Microsoft leverages their desktop OS monopoly to lock in game developers with Direct X.
      • WINE and derivatives are popular on Linux and not too complicated for the user base's average skill level.
      • There are other, larger market segments that are lower hanging fruit for most developers.
      • A lot of gaming companies have been purchased by a hardware or OS vendor or contracted to make games exclusively for one platfo
  • The windows market completely dwarfs the mac and Linux markets, especially for games, which leads to most bang for the buck coming to the windows side. Ironically, because of this factor, windows gaming is starting to lose out to consoles in terms of resource focus by the game companies.
  • Linux is the game (Score:5, Insightful)

    by avatar4d (192234) <avatar4d@gma i l . c om> on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:26PM (#22706256)
    I am not intending to stereotype, although it will probably come across that way anyway. From my personal experience in working with *nix, hacking away to do various things, is the game. I spend the majority of my time trying new things and configurations instead of playing games. Although now my BSD-based laptop (OS X) allows me a wider selection of games to play compared to my FreeBSD workstation. Even when I ran Linux though it was the same; for me at least.
  • by inflexion (3981) * on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:26PM (#22706280) Homepage Journal
    I could go home at night and play video games. Or I could go home and play with the alpha release of Ubuntu (insert your favorite distrib). Both things are fun. Both require creativity. Both satisfy my need to be playing with digital technology. Both teach me new things.

    However... The world isn't all that much better if I've beaten a level at some game millions of people have already beaten. But if I've squashed a bug in Ubuntu? The world benefits quite a bit.
  • I heard a great quote on the state of PC gaming on the Games For Windows podcast [1up.com] last week, saying that PC games are very profitable but don't have the same revenue as console games, and the big publishers are only interested in volume and revenue. I think this can be directly translated to the Linux argument - it is very likely that if you dedicate a small team to port a Windows game to Linux enough people will buy it that there is a net gain, but the sheer number of people who will buy the game is not su
  • Obvious question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MooseMuffin (799896) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:27PM (#22706298)
    What kind of question is this? Linux users aren't gamers because of the hassle of gaming on linux. Wine is great and all, and I"m constantly impressed that such an ambitious project works as well as it does, but even the games that it runs perfectly still require some futzing with. Directx 9 features are being implemented currently but come on - dx9 is 5+ years old now. Combining that with wine regressions, game patches that break wine compatibility and its just not worth the effort. I'll either boot into windows or go play a game console.
  • In the strictest definition of game, Linux users may have a lower % of gamers than other platform users. But by a looser definition, their platform is an enjoyable pass-time as they tweak their installs, optimize components, and explore the world of the platform. Rather than building points in a fragfest, they prefer to rebuild kernals and increase performance scores of their machines.
  • by bskin (35954) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (bmotneb)> on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:31PM (#22706356)
    If you're planning on doing a lot of gaming, you're not going to run linux. You're not going to run OS X, either. You're going to run Windows, because like it or not, most of the big games are Windows-only.
  • by tjwhaynes (114792) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:39PM (#22706492)

    There are plenty of Linux gamers out there. You can find the greatest concentrations of them on multiplayer servers such as Wesnoth, Nexuiz, Urban Terror and Tremulous. I even heard that there were more UT2k4 Linux players than Mac OS, which makes the current state of the Linux UT3 client all the more frustrating.

    I used to dual-boot Windows/Linux, especially when I had Mechwarrior 3 and Quake 3. After a while, I realised I just didn't reboot to Windows to play games anymore - Quake 3 worked on Linux and Mechwarrior eventually gathered dust. The inevitable next step was to reclaim that disk space and wipe Windows off the system.

    So - it's a "build it and they will come" scenario. There aren't that many AAA titles released for Linux, hence there aren't that many AAA titles being purchased. Meanwhile, the user-created games are seeing a significant number of players. I don't thinks a question of "Linux gamers are cheapskates" either - the UT2k4 player figures show that commercial games can reach a significant gaming audience on Linux.

    Cheers,
    Toby Haynes

  • s/Games/PC Gamers/ (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quattro Vezina (714892) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:42PM (#22706570) Journal
    I use Linux exclusively (seriously, the only Windoze computer I use is my WM5 phone). I also play games.

    But I play console games almost exclusively. I love tinkering with my system, but I don't want to fuck around with things just to play a game. Even Windows PC gaming is a PITA. It's like "Oh no, you have to buy a $500 video card just to enjoy this game". Fuck that, I just put a disc into my Wii or PS2 and just have fun. There's less hardware turnover for consoles: a new console generation comes out once every 6 years or so; PC hardware is obsolete annually.

    It also helps that the Wii is a far more fun platform than anything else, and there's no PC equivalent.

    I'd imagine that many other Linux users feel the same way: I'd guess that the percentage of heavy Linux users who are diehard console gamers is greater than the percentage of heavy Windows users who are diehard console gamers.
  • by Basilius (184226) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:44PM (#22706630)
    More Linux users aren't gamers because the gamers aren't (as an overreaching generalization) switching to Linux. People don't switch platforms if the things they do aren't easier on the target platform. Gamers are no different than AutoCAD geeks or Photoshop mavens.

    The old cliche "build it and they will come" applies. But in today's "gotta make the next quarter's number" world, nobody's going to build it if the customers aren't already there.

    Wall St. is the bane of capitalism's existence.
  • Gaming Evangelism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Al Dimond (792444) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:57PM (#22706866) Journal
    Between this article and the Tim Sweeney interview there's been a disturbing amount of gaming evangelism today. Sweeney makes these comical statements that all computers need to have fast graphics cards and be gaming-ready, when really that just takes away the choice of ordering more affordable hardware away from consumers and businesses that have no interest in gaming. And then there's this article which implores the Linux community to care about gaming. If a gamer goes to a LUG and finds that the people there just aren't interested in gaming... who cares? They'd probably rather be hacking.
  • Wrong question? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:59PM (#22706892) Homepage
    Isn't this putting the cart before the horse? Of the deployed base of hundreds of millions of PC's (including all OS's and platforms) in the world, how many of those are used by "gamers"? 1%? 5? Now take 5-10% of that number. The result is going to be small no matter what.

    I have a suggestion though; certainly one reason there aren't more Linux Gamers is that there aren't more Linux games. This may be a Catch 22, but no one said those don't really happen. Game companies have pretty much universally shunned the smaller platforms, both Mac and Linux, and that's only to be expected, it's hard enough to make a buck on the PC.

    But one of the major reasons for this, IMHO, is the lack of a single platform. No, I'm not talking about the underlying disto, I'm talking about the lack of something similar to DirectX. On Windows there is a "gaming platform" and I can design to it, on the other OS's there is a plethora of packages that solve one of the many problems, but nothing that wraps them all up.

    May I humbly suggest that there needs to be a single "OpenGP" (as in Gaming Platform) that _really_ works on the (new) Mac OS and Linux?

    Maury
  • by Secret Rabbit (914973) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:07PM (#22707024) Journal
    The biggest reason that I've heard that holds any water as to why there isn't any commercial game development on Linux (or the *BSD's) is the problems with cross-platform development. Which was true once upon a time. As in, the cost to do it was quite high.

    BUT, today what do we have? We got games being developed not only for the PC/XBox, but also the PS3, Wii and toned town version(s) for the PSP and/or the GBA/DS. Clearly there isn't much of a fear/cost with regards to cross-platform development any more.

    My opinion as to what the next reason will be is licensing. The bulk of the useful tools on the Linux Distro's are (L)GPL'd. Now, I know that the dynamically linking to a lib that is LGPL'd is ok, but not to one that is GPL'd. Also, has anyone taken a look at (at least Ubuntu's) libc? It's LGPL'd. Anyone here want to dl LIBC? Because that'll be necessary to alleviate any legal ambiguity regarding libc's usage even if the Linux people /say/ it's fine.

    Quite frankly, I see this free (as in RMS's definition) software thing as having shot itself in the foot. RMS wanted an "us" v.s. "them" thing:

    http://www.gnu.org/licenses/why-not-lgpl.html [gnu.org]

    And guess what. He got it. Congratulations.
  • by Klaidas (981300) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:11PM (#22707132)
  • by thisissilly (676875) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:21PM (#22707264)
    I've got 5 ascended nethack characters who beg to differ!
  • Vicious circle (Score:3, Insightful)

    by One Childish N00b (780549) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:24PM (#22707300) Homepage
    10 PRINT Gamers don't switch to Linux because there aren't enough games.
    20 PRINT Games companies don't switch for Linux because they aren't enough gamers.
    GOTO 10
  • Cost of Testing (Score:3, Informative)

    by bazald (886779) <bazald@zeni p e x .com> on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:31PM (#22707418) Homepage
    Disclaimer/Plug: I don't work in the video games industry, but I have close ties to a few people who do. Also, I've written my own cross-platform game engine or game development framework that allows OpenGL and Direct3D to be used interchangeably as the rendering engine.

    So, with ever improving cross-platform middleware, why are game developers still ignoring Linux, by and large? If they can target Windows XP, Windows Vista, XBox 360, PS2, PS3, and Wii with one title, surely Linux couldn't be hard to add it the list. I'll tell you, it isn't because game developers know how to use Direct3D only or that OpenGL is no good.

    When I questioned a friend in the industry about it, he said in the end that the only real reason for ignoring Linux is the time and cost of testing another platform. If they aren't going to profit enough from the release to pay the additional testers required, they won't even break even on the venture. The fact is, testing procedures require much work duplication across different platforms, even when the code doesn't need to be rewritten or significantly modified. So, from what I understand, it all comes down to testing cost.
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:49PM (#22707744)
    It's that simple really.

    If I were into gaming full-scale I'd be using Windows. Unbelievable (I *hate* Microsoft & Windows), but then again I'm not a Gamer or Game Developer, I'm a developer. A guy I know is an avid gamer and the team lead of a Half-Life 2 Total Conversion Mod for StarWars. He - of course - uses Windows as his Desktop.

    Another thing I'm seeing is that OSS gaming has just about lured in all the Linux gamers anyway. It's not *that* different in the Windows world. Counterstrike is still the most popular multiplayer out there - and that's a mod, not a commercial game.

    I suspect once Linux gains critical mass due to HW prices plummeting and the ever gaining crowd of Ubuntu followers (a distro that finally did enough things right to foster critical mass) we'll at the same time see OSS gaming finally catch on. Linux is getting more and more interesting for the non-hardcore-lowlevel developers and thus we're seeing an ever growing set of OSS games, some of which could kill off entire gaming genres (check out the OSS RTS Spring to see what I mean).

    It was 8 years ago when jBuilder, the prime Java IDE, would cost thousands and thousands of dollars. I can still clearly remember. Today we have huge companies competing with each other over who can give away the best software for free. Eclipse vs. Netbeans, Glassfish vs. jBoss, etc. We are seeing that with a lot of other stuff in the software area too. Webkits, Office packages, etc. Once that has crept out all over the place we'll see the same happening in gaming.

    The games of the future will be plattforms payed for by a fee or premium accounts. Games will be free and mostly - so I suspect - open source. Because no one will even care.
  • This one is easy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by christurkel (520220) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:55PM (#22707844) Homepage Journal
    The answer is one I see here on Slashdot all the time: "I only boot into Windows to play games"

    As long as this is true game companies have zero incentive to make Linux native games.
  • I bought (as in paid full price for) most of the games that Loki [lokigames.com] (remember them) ever ported to Linux. I still play Alpha Centauri sometimes - it still runs on modern Linux (though sadly their port of Civ3 no longer runs - doesn't get on with modern libraries in some way I haven't bothered to diagnose). I bought Neverwinter Nights [bioware.com] when it first came out, because it was available in a Linux port (and it still runs very nicely, and yes, I still sometimes play it - mostly user-generated content, too). And I'm one of the only 597 people world-wide who have so far pre-ordered Apricot [blender.org].

    And that's kind of the point.

    It costs money to develop commercial games; quite a lot of money. The people who develop them want to sell them. If there were enough Linux users prepared to spend real money on games, we'd have more commercial games. Over the last few weeks I've been playing (and really enjoying) The Witcher [thewitcher.com]. It runs on an updated version of Bioware's Aurora engine, so presumably it wouldn't be hard to port it to Linux. But I don't expect we'll see a Linux port, because Atari, who sell it, clearly don't think enough of us would pay for it. And sadly I think they're probably right.

    I've haven't found many open source game projects which are compelling to me. There are plenty of good ideas out there, and half-finished projects. Globulation [globulation2.org] is quite polished and seems to me quite innovative, and plays well; but it's also quite shallow - you'll enjoy it for a week but you won't still be playing it in a year. Oolite [aegidian.org] is genuinely good and you might still be playing it in a year - but that's largely because it is a faithful reconstruction of Elite, which is one of the great classics of computer games. Flightgear [flightgear.org] may be good but it isn't my thing.

    To create a new game takes a lot of vision and a lot of work. Until you've done a lot of work it's hard to communicate the vision, so it's hard to recruit people. And even then, too many of the talented people prefer to tinker with some project of their own which they'll never get finished, than co-operate to deliver someone else's vision. I'd like to be wrong on this. But what I see on Freshmeat is lots of 'alpha' and 'beta' projects, and very little that's genuinely playable.

Put your Nose to the Grindstone! -- Amalgamated Plastic Surgeons and Toolmakers, Ltd.

Working...