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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?
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Why Aren't More Linux Users Gamers?

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  • 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.
  • 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.

  • by gnutoo (1154137) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:22PM (#22706168) Journal

    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 like PCLinuxOS and Ubuntu are going to make them very happy for a while. If the card makers come out with free drivers that work well in the next year or so, those new users will never look back.

  • 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 LuniticusTheSane (1195389) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:23PM (#22706190)
    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.
  • 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) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:24PM (#22706204)
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by bskin (35954) <bentomb@gmFORTRANail.com minus language> 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.
  • Testing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Erioll (229536) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:34PM (#22706400)
    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 doing cross-platform already with a library that supported it (let's say you were already doing Win and Mac, and the Mac was using OpenGL) with minimal code changes necessary, you'd STILL have a huge testing burden on any Linux port, with a questionable amount of return in purchases, along with needing to test the changes with every new sub-version of the distros you choose.

    For non open-source games (virtually all of any size), they just don't have the people to find the 500 different "hacks" necessary to get it to run near-perfect on all of the iterations out there. But with Win and Mac, it's MUCH easier to be much more certain, easing both the Testing and Support burdens.
  • by Soleen (925936) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:36PM (#22706434)
    You do not get it!
    All Linux users are games, they just like different kind of games: it is called playing with your PC and Hardware.
  • 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!
  • by Cryophallion (1129715) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:39PM (#22706508)
    Linux was/is known as being an OS for nerds. As it becomes more mainstream, that is changing, and as certain other OS's are having issues, more people are looking at Linux and seeing a much more user friendly OS than it was even 5 years ago. I have moved 3 friends who are NOT nerds over to a dual boot in the past 4 months, and most of them prefer linux, but I gave them the dual boot so they could return to their comfort zone if necessary.

    As more non-geeks move into Linux, the market for paid games will grow. A lot of people point to games on linux "failing" a few years ago. Well, a lot has changed since then, and will continue to change. So what failed a few years ago may be more viable now or a year or so in the future.

    Also, I think that the stereotypical "nerd" Linux user wants high quality games. I know I was thrilled when I found out UT 2003 ran on linux. And since it was high quality enough, I bought it. Most of the games released today are lowest common denominator games that are basically all the same, and just trying to make a quick buck. The innovative or even good games will get bought. Just don't expect people who are quality oriented to just pick up some game based on a couple of screenshots on the box.

    On the other hand, we are more forgiving of OS games because we respect the philosophy (typically), and we can forgive shortcoming as they are typically in almost permanent beta.

    In summary, as more people are moved to linux, games will be more viable, but only the real quality ones.
  • Re:common (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CSMatt (1175471) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:40PM (#22706532)
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.".

  • 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.
  • by CSMatt (1175471) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:01PM (#22706940)
    I don't follow the progress of the gaming industry, but I'm guessing that most developers will be either releasing DirectX 9/Windows XP ports of their games for quite some time or eventually abandoning the PC market and focusing exclusively on consoles to combat this problem. If Microsoft isn't willing to step up to the plate and fix these issues with Vista than the market will move on to something else.

    As for Halo 2, I believe that a hack was released that allows for it to run in Windows XP.
  • Microsoft has stated they will cease selling Windows XP as of June 30, 2008. When you can't buy new copies anymore, it's essentially dead, even if those of us who have it still use it for a while yet. Kind of like a chicken after you cut its head off.
  • 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 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 ShieldW0lf (601553) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:08PM (#22707056) Journal
    I had a discussion at work about this recently, and I came to realize why I don't like new games.

    It used to be, most games were simple to know, but challenging to play. But nowadays, it's the other way around. It's challenging and time consuming to know all the various aspects of the game, but if you do, it's trivial easy to win.

    If I had no personal projects to consume as much free time as I can spare to work on them between family and work, perhaps boredom might drive me to explore all the stuff put into modern games. But I have lots of things that I want to do and not enough time, and for me, a game that requires me to spend a lot of time learning about the game and its world and customizing things is a pain in the ass that I won't bother taking the time to go through.

    There's no money to be made off people like me, and all the skills normally associated with creating modern games bring no competitive advantage. I'm most likely in the minority, considering the market penetration level of modern video gaming. But for a lot of people, Linux is both an agenda and a personal project, so they have no shortage of useful places to put their spare time.

    I've watched people playing games and spend hours doing menial tasks like farming or mining, and they think it's so great that there's this level of realism, and all I can think is, why don't you go spend hours of your time growing plants, then you can eat the food instead of just looking at it on a screen.

    The inane stupidity of it blows me away. And it's considered progress.

    Meh. Who cares if they bring games or not.
  • Hassle (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zakeria (1031430) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:08PM (#22707058) Homepage
    it's down to hassle point blank! Linux is moving on too fast even for games developed for that platform, take a look for example at Alpha Centauri try installing it today on Linux you'll be sure to be in for hours of tinkering and frustration to get it working. Same goes for almost all games made for Linux, they may work well for a few years but then bang things change with X11 for example and the game was designed using older API's and things don't just work! This is why I've argued in the past we need a solid gaming SDK for Linux that doe's not break older software.. I'd even go to the extent and recommend a new solution for packaging libs for games! so they can just be included with the game without having to worry about installing old libs etc on a system.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:10PM (#22707098)
    1) We use computers for much more than just gaming. Your comparison is unfair. Besides, Computers last longer, as you can upgrade individual parts (though I grant that the latest graphics cards are pretty damned expensive. That said, you don't need the very latest ones to play the latest games).
    2) Games have minimum requirements lists. It's not terribly hard to figure out if you can run them. If you can't download a driver from the Nvidia or ATI website, you're just not trying.
    4) So has the performance level of computers.

    Also, the mouse/keyboard is still vastly superior to a controller for FPS games (even the Wiimote), plus the keyboard allows for greater complexity in actions that can be performed and allows for greater configurability of key bindings. For an example, see the difference between Mass Effect on the PC and on the console.

    PC gaming isn't anywhere near dead, but linux gaming is still in its adolescence. I can't really tell whether developers, hardware companies, or users need to take the first step.
  • 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 Hatta (162192) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:10PM (#22707118) Journal
    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.
  • 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 sterno (16320) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:19PM (#22707234) Homepage
    The other factor there is that if you've got a Linux box and you're a gamer, I guarantee you dual boot to play most of your games. Given that, why would a developer go out of their way to make a game for linux when you can just dual boot to play. I mean I've picked up games for Linux before when they were available, but a game not being Linux compatible never stopped me from getting it.
  • 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.
  • by CSMatt (1175471) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:20PM (#22707250)
    Cease selling != cease supporting. I remember games supporting Windows 98SE long after it ceased being sold because the market share was still so much larger during Windows XP's early years. I can envision a similar scenario with Windows Vista and Windows XP, especially since it seems that we've "peaked" in terms of general-use hardware performance this time around.
  • 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
  • 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 rucs_hack (784150) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:36PM (#22707486)
    I spent the last year trying to drum up interest from developers for a linux only game. I've failed in this effort and gone back to the idea of releasing for windows only.

    Why? Because no-one who was interested in joining the dev team believed for one moment that a closed source game could succeed on the linux platform. Open source sounds good, but won't pay the very immediate bills generated by running an online game world. The end result was that a Linux game was deemed to be an automatic fail (at least a linux version of my game), simply because there wasn't the user base to support such a move, and the API support for linux game related devices compared to windows is awful

  • by sterno (16320) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:37PM (#22707522) Homepage
    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.

     
  • by Nocturnal Deviant (974688) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:49PM (#22707742) Homepage
    im a linux user, i understand all the f/oss shit but for fucks sakes how hard it it to make people still pay for a game and keep it closed source on an os, mod me flamebait as you will but linux is open source also TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO DO THEIR OWN THING ON IT, if they want to sell a closed source game good job its only promoting linux, and personally i find that a lot more important that solid oh noes it HAS to be open source atmosphere...i love that the OS its self is, but its also free to developers and as such people should allow them to utilize that, in the end thinking logically how much would developers save if they didn't have to pay microsoft royalty fees and stuff "wow i have a free compiler, a free nice notepad thats easier for coding in, wow i even have free api's with full source and documentation so i can upgrade it or do anything i want maybe even edit it so i can make ti beter and include it...but only for my game so it doesnt cause compatibility issues...but of course this has nothing to do with us linux(wannabe)gamers this has to do with money, and right now the gaming industry sees it with xp.
  • 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.
  • by NotBorg (829820) * on Monday March 10, 2008 @05:19PM (#22708180)

    Who wants to go back to the world of driver hunting?

    Huh? Most products either work out of the box on Windows or come with a driver for it in the box. Even if it doesn't (I've never see it) how hard is it to find the manufacturer's web sight and download one?

    I've never had to do this "hunting" thing you're talking about when I used Windows. I have on Linux, didn't find shit, but I did hunt for quite a while. I've seen the end user have to do everything from compile the driver to recompiling the kernel, to get some hardware working on Linux.

    Sorry, but I'm gonna have to wave the bullshit flag on this "hunting" thing that I would have to do if I went Windows again. There are good reasons to leave Windows, but this just isn't one of them.

  • by Kev647 (904931) on Monday March 10, 2008 @05:44PM (#22708510)
    Ok, lets repeat this one last time: Halo is for Vista Only. Just because you can crack it does not mean that it was meant for XP or anything else. Do people go around saying that Mac OS X is only for Mac computers: YES! Yes they do. And yet, we know of hacks that allow Mac OS X to run on Intel chips (and I don't mean "FlyAKite," I am talking about the actual Mac OS X. So, with that, just because you can crack something doesn't make it not only Vista. Taking that software (game) as it is, it was released for Vista only. Case closed.

    And stoolpigeon, thanks, I appreciate it. I get carried away sometimes. I will keep your words in my mind when writing posts from now on. Thanks.

    And yes, the link is working now, but it was down moments after the post, to all those that were concerned about this. Actually, their whole website was down. : (
  • Re:common (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 91degrees (207121) on Monday March 10, 2008 @05:47PM (#22708562) Journal
    What can you do in DX that you can't do in OpenGL?
  • Re:common (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ADRA (37398) on Monday March 10, 2008 @05:56PM (#22708708)
    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.
  • by try_anything (880404) on Monday March 10, 2008 @06:30PM (#22709128)
    It's wishful thinking. The idea that "a lot of gamers" would be "looking to Linux" as an alternative to Vista is silly. Gamers are not going to flock to Linux and camp out there, without games, until the gaming industry comes to them. Gamers will go to a platform where they expect the next generation of games to be available. In other words, they'll end up on Vista. The only way gamers will switch to Linux on the desktop is if they switch to console gaming.

    At the moment the only significant consumer movement towards Linux is by people who want to save money and/or use low-end hardware. It's a small phenomenon, and the gaming industry has no interest in those people anyway, regardless of what platform they use.
  • by try_anything (880404) on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:08PM (#22709612)
    It happens on both systems.

    I've been left hunting for drivers several times on Windows, most recently for a USB-to-serial converter from a major manufacturer. I bought it new, plugged it in, and started using it. Windows seemed to detect it and handle it fine. After a few days I found out that when I unplugged the USB connection, half the time the driver would freeze Windows. I couldn't find the CD that came with the device, so I went to the manufacturer's web site. Even though I had the model name and product number of the device, I couldn't find the driver. I gave up looking several times, but the crashes kept sending me back. Eventually I sent an email to the manufacturer, and I got back a download link for a single file. What was I supposed to do with the file? I had no clue. I tried modifying the URL to the file to find another page, but no luck. I had to use Google to find install instructions. Then, after I installed the driver and rebooted, the behavior wasn't completely fixed. The crashes became less frequent, but they still happened often enough that I gave up on the device and bought another USB-to-serial converter, which turned out to have a similar problem.

    I also have an old Dell that I couldn't install Windows XP Pro on because partway through the install process, the screen became garbled. It seemed like XP tried to load a better driver for the video card and ended up using one that was a little bit off. That was especially frustrating because the box came with Windows 2000 on it, and I had reinstalled Windows 2000 on it from scratch (using a retail copy of Windows 2000 Pro) in the past. I thought Windows XP's driver support was a superset of Windows 2000's, but maybe Microsoft stopped including a suitable driver for that model on its Windows install disks. I didn't bother hunting for a Windows driver; I just installed Linux.
  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:09PM (#22709618)

    I believe you have the gaming companies' priorities confused. They really don't give a **** what platform Microsoft is pushing. They only care where the money-paying market is, and as far as PCs go that is — overwhelmingly — Windows XP.

    The only major gamer advantage in Vista is DirectX 10. However, DX10 is dubious in terms of exclusivity: see the Halo II comments about the reality of "Vista only" games. DX10 is dubious in terms of technical advantages: I run Crysis just fine on my new super-rig, which deliberately has XP rather than Vista installed and is therefore limited to DX9, and frankly I'm not sure I prefer the DX 10 "improved" version anyway judging from the numerous screenshots in reviews. And finally, DX10 is dubious in terms of hardware, because even many serious gamers don't have fully DX10-capable cards and decent drivers to match yet, and the occasional gaming masses won't have for some years.

    I predict, quite confidently, that Vista will never be the major games platform that XP has become, simply because it is in direct competition with its predecessor and will be for years, and worse, it is in competition with consoles for a lot of the custom, and consoles already have by far the largest share of the gaming market. Given that, I expect consoles to overcome their limitations with input devices for some gaming genres a lot faster than Vista will overcome everything from bad PR via relatively tiny market share among gamers to the numerous technical problems it seems to have, and in the meantime XP is dominant outside of console world anyway.

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Monday March 10, 2008 @07:20PM (#22709714)

    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 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?
  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2008 @10:18PM (#22711196)
    $200 will get you an adequate graphics card for playing modern games on their medium settings. It definitely won't get you a "REALLY Good" card, or even a card that will be terribly useful for games released a year from now.
  • by Almahtar (991773) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @12:35AM (#22712186) Journal
    I wouldn't say that's the ONLY consumer movement. Perhaps the only one that's trackable by sales.

    When my relatives come to me to fix their deranged computers, I fix their Windows install then dual boot it with Ubuntu and enable ssh on it so I can remote desktop/shell/file share to it just in case they need something complex done. I make sure they know which icon is their browser, their word processor, their e-mail, and they're golden. I have about 10 of these out there now, and every one of them has said "they like their new program". They don't use Windows anymore. I have a few friends that have done the same when people come to them. It's just the least hassle for me. Keeps them out of my hair.

    But there's no way to track that like you can new purchases. These are indeed consumers. They are switching over. It's a movement, and it's real.
  • by rtb61 (674572) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @01:32AM (#22712486) Homepage
    That of course still doesn't govern the reason why. The reasons are, simply is the past you were forced to buy a windows OEM to get your computer so in affect you had you games console for free and for most gamers they already have a range of windows games they still want to play. For game companies, it is about profit, they will do the absolute minimum of work to generate a profit hence they will typical only target the majority audience and often they will only target a PC audience and rarely only target a specific console audience and generally will only do so for discounted licensing fees.

    Indirectly Linux has hurt PC gaming sales because people who prefer Linux over windows have severely cut back on the number of games per year they are willing to buy and in some instances have switch to PS2/PS3(they would never xbox) gaming. At the moment when it comes to impulse buying, the I want now generation, they really are not any Linux games available at the local retail level.

    So in swapping over from windows to linux, which is inevitable because of the budget end of the market, it will be light a light switch either on or off, light or dark, Linux or windows, there is now slow steady transition, it will simply appear to happen at a rush, and computers like the ASUS eeePC are what will herald the high volume low requirement gaming market, especially when playing wirelessly together, hmm, free local mesh network gaming.

  • 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.

  • Re:FUD? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Crayon Kid (700279) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @07:21AM (#22713838)

    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 the above, not using IE, and still got malware on them; wonder why the fuck it won't stop asking for drivers for that Bluetooth dongle I plugged in two weeks ago -- I'd disable the bastard but the device manager shows 5 yellow "unknown devices" and I don't know which is what; hunting down programs to use by myself and always worry which of them might contain spyware or trojans; worry what goodies Microsoft will push on me via update tomorrow. Add the inherent rot of every Windows installation I've ever seen, which makes you need to reinstall at least once a year, if not 6 months.

    Oh yes, it's a completely relaxing experience. It's so relaxing that I wonder why Gates, with his keen business sense, is not selling billions of punch bags with "Thank you Microsoft!" written on them. When Windows makes me run amok it would help to have a punch bag around instead of wanting to smash my keyboard and keep all the rage inside. ;)

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