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Linux Game Publishing CEO Resigns 142

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the ten-years-later dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The CEO of the once fledging Linux Game Publishing, Michael Simms, has announced his resignation. Simms attributes his resignation from the Linux game porting company he founded more than a decade ago to being burned out and having little success as of late in his work." In his place, Clive Crouse will be taking the helm.
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Linux Game Publishing CEO Resigns

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:08PM (#38892731)

    Has there ever been a Linux-exclusive game company that *didn't* either go bankrupt, face massive layoffs/resignations, or never deliver on their promised games?

    I don't mean that sarcastically, I'm seriously asking the question. Seems like every time I hear about a Linux game company, it's something negative. There must be at least one or two success stories out there.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:11PM (#38892763)

      Well for a company to be successful they actually have to have a market for their products.

      • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:13PM (#38892797)
        It also helps to have products. Look at their list of games... The Indie Bundles have proven there is a market.
        • by X0563511 (793323) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:34PM (#38893139) Homepage Journal

          Lets just back this up with numbers [imageshack.us], so you actually have some, well, backing :P

          Note that Linux users are about a quarter of the purchasers, and pay more than the other fractions. Being generous and assuming they all payed equal (remember this is NOT true, and this assumption HURTS my point) that means they have taken in around $100k - and lets not forget that I got my email introducing this bundle a mere 19 hours ago. The total amount has gone up by about $80k during the last 9 hours or so.

          • Very nice. Kinda hard to argue there is no market when you look at the performance of those bundles.
            • by Svartalf (2997)

              There's a reason I've been working with the Indie community, working on helping them get Linux versions out.

            • by torchdragon (816357) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @02:14PM (#38893721) Homepage

              Except that those numbers are incredibly weak when compared with the "mainstream" game channels.

              When I checked, there were $488k in 82k sales. That's for 4 titles and a charity. Assuming a 100% revenue push from customer to developer (an impossibility), that means their average of $5.95 per sale gets split into 4 companies equating to almost $1.50 per sale, per company.

              So we've got $122,000 total possible revenue without any removal of revenue hitting the developer. If you're a one or a two man independent development team, Congrats, you get to (possibly) pay your bills. If you're a 3 or a 4 man team, you're still working a second job. If you're at all bigger, you'll be shutting down unless you have another source of revenue for your game.

              Out of those 82,000 sales, less than 25% are linux sales, but even going with 25%, that means 20,500 people specifically bought the Linux version.
              Now, not all of the users on Steam have paid $5.95, but I'm willing to be a vast majority have. As I type this there are 4.1 million users on Steam and the vast majority of them are going to be Windows.

              So honestly it really isn't hard to argue that there's no market. 20,500 people is great for an interest group, not for a global market.

              • The key thing here is that many of these indie guys are getting rich on this model. They don't need to compete with global multi-national corporations. They are doing just fine.
              • by higuita (129722)

                i have also a steam account... but the lack of linux support made me migrate to desura [desura.com]

                in desura i already paid for many linux games and the fact they choose to build a client first to linux instead of Mac shows that they believe there is market and that it open to grow faster than the Mac one

                not all games manage to get the "mainstream" sells, even in windows... not even many mainstream games

                ignoring 20,000 potential linux gamers, that are more hungry for good games, that can even pay more looks like "shoot

              • If I can resell 20,500 games on my website bfg-nation.com [bfg-nation.com]) at a $1 markup, I will be - uh - $20,500 richer. Pretty nice if I could actually get some games to resell. Oh, well, working on it.
              • by juhaz (110830)

                "Possibly pay the bills"? Come on now. It won't get you a penthouse on manhattan, but $122k is enough to live quite comfortably for a few years in most parts of the worlds. It's twice the average yearly wage even in the US, a two man team just made their yearly salary in a day - and here you are, moaning and bitching how it's not worth it.

                And the sales are going to at least double before the bundle is over.

            • by rgbrenner (317308)

              Right, because a game bundle that pulls in $480,000 total proves there is a market for lots of games? You're kidding me right? That's less than the cost to develop even one game. For comparison, WoW pulls in $1 billion per year [ocregister.com]

              • Hint: These games are turning a huge profit, and they don't cost 480 million to make. You're comparing the number 1 MMO in the world, to "two dudes working out of an apartment".
                • by rgbrenner (317308)

                  If you're largest more successful example is two guys working out of an apartment, then you're example is proof there is no market.

                  • by rgbrenner (317308)

                    typo. more == most

                  • by X0563511 (793323)

                    You seem to be entirely missing the point.

                    The point is that if small teams can do it, then large companies (like EA) could, if they tried. They don't, so we don't have actual data for them - we have to make educated guesses based on the performance of said small teams.

                    • by rgbrenner (317308)

                      No you seem to be entirely missing the point.

                      If there is a market for Linux games, where are the wildly successful examples? Where are the billion dollar blockbusters? The games everyone wants to play? They don't exist. Windows games pull in billions and billions every year in sales, and Linux games -- well there are these two guys in an apartment ...

                    • by X0563511 (793323)

                      How are we supposed to have such examples when nobody who can has bothered to create them?

                      The ones who HAVE bothered to create games for Linux have either done so in companion to the windows release (and usually later, for example ID's Quakes) or are not large corporations . You don't make a game with a small team and suddenly you're in the club with EA, Ubi, etc. That's not how it works.

                    • by rgbrenner (317308)

                      Linux wasn't just started yesterday. It's been around for almost 20 years. Everyone who has tried to create a business out of selling Linux games has failed or had such low success that they can only develop simple/cheap games.

                      You say you need some large company to come in and develop Linux games, but if there was a market and those large companies refused to serve them, then there would be a lot of successful small Linux game companies. Yet, those small companies don't exist.

                      20 years... plenty of time for

                    • by rgbrenner (317308)

                      What are you talking about? The "game developer market" has started multiple companies that have gone bankrupt. The premier example at the moment is the indie bundle, which has pulled in about $500k, or about what WoW earns in 4.5 hours.

                      How many $100,000,000 games can you develop with $500,000?

                      There is no proof there is any significant amount of money to be made in Linux games.

                    • by X0563511 (793323)

                      Yet, those small companies don't exist.

                      And so we come back to the original point. They do. - where do you think these Indy games are coming from? Thin air? Someone is creating them, and they are doing well for themselves. Linux has been around for a long time, yes... but if you think Linux was ready for anything approaching mainstream entertainment in the early 1990s, you're delusional.

                      It's only recently started to be ready enough, and it's starting to attract the attention. If things keep up the way they are, then either we'll see some of the

                  • Never said that was my largest more successful example. Look at the Minecraft team. Mojang went from "one guy working out of an apartment", to now being a full fledged studio with a bunch of employees, and a multi-million dollar company. Part of their success is that you can play Minecraft on anything, including Linux.
                    • by rgbrenner (317308)

                      That's awesome. Now show me a Linux game started by one person that grew into a full fledged studio with lots of employees.

                      I won't hold my breath waiting the answer.

                    • Minecraft IS a Linux game. You don't get to call something not a Linux game just because it is multi-platform. Even the company this story was about was set up to port games from other platforms to Linux. The only computer system that has exclusive games for it is Windows, as even Mac games are multi-platform.

                      So yes, you can move the goalposts and declare there to be no market for Linux games, by saying that multi-platform games don't count. Congratulations, you win the internet.
                    • by rgbrenner (317308)

                      Minecraft is a multiplatform game written in Java. In other words, they did no Linux work.. they just wrote it in a language that will work on Linux. Second, we have no idea what % of Minecrafts sales are from Linux.. I'm guessing it virtually nil compared to their Windows numbers.

                      We have numbers for Linux Game Publishing.. they are terrible. We have numbers for the Indie Bundle... they are terrible. Your example, does not have numbers for Linux, yet you want us to believe that it would be fantastic. Show m

                    • Sure, but it's also hard to say that the company's success was due to Linux when 90% of users are on different platforms. Just making that number up but It's probably not far off. Anyone have actual numbers?

                      To show that Linux is a market worth tapping by game developers, you basically have to show that the revenues from sales to Linux users will be larger than the costs associated with marketing and developing the game for Linux. The case usually starts with Linux's miniscule consumer install base and ge
                    • Minecraft is a java game written to be cross platform. You might as well laud WoW for being a Linux game because it works well under OpenGL and Wine, even though the vast majority of its userbase is Windows.

                    • by HAKdragon (193605)

                      Minecraft is a multiplatform game written in Java. In other words, they did no Linux work..
                       
                      When you run Minecraft in Linux and do an update, it mentions that it's pulling down the Linux specific updates.

                    • by rgbrenner (317308)

                      lol

                • These games are turning a huge profit

                  In large part due to people buying them and playing them on the Windows platform. So remind me again exactly where developers lose out by targeting only Windows?

                • Hint, the majority of the humble bundle games were released years ago, and are being re-released to get additional profit. The sunk costs were already paid and recouped, this is just icing and a way of getting money to charities.

                • A husband and wife pair working out of a garage created Myst, which for a long time was the best selling game ever.
              • by higuita (129722)

                $480,000? that number is not the final number!! ... look at the real data, LIVE:

                http://www.humblebundle.com/ [humblebundle.com]

                its already at $505,000 and this in just one day... you still have 13 days left of sales

                now look that the previous bundles: in wikipedia .. the last one sold almost $2.4 Million

                yes, WoW is a lot more... but many games can get that much? WoW is not just a game, its a monthly service and its the TOP seller... of all the MMORPG, not yet came close to it and most of them just closed after losing money for

                • by rgbrenner (317308)

                  now look that the previous bundles: in wikipedia .. the last one sold almost $2.4 Million

                  I wasn't aware they sold that many copies. Very nice. For that amount, I'll admit there may be a Linux market. Although I wonder what percentage were donations to EFF?

                • by rnswebx (473058)

                  It should be noted that the percentage of Linux users is quite small; somewhere around 20-25%.

                  Even if we assume it reaches $2M, that would only leave ~$400k-500k in Linux sales. I don't know what the development time is for the games in the bundle, but I'll assume it's 3-6 months. If we have 5 studios with games in the bundle (and everything is evenly split), you're only looking at a maximum of $100k in 3-6 months, per studio, being generated from Linux sales. That'd be great for a couple of guys in an a

                  • by protektor (63514)

                    I would bet most indie games take a week max to port to Linux. Loki Game on average took only 2 months to port a Windows AAA title to Linux. The cost of porting a game to Linux compared with the total amount of revenue generated by Linux sales makes it a no brainer for indie developers.

                    You do realize that HiB is doing a large percentage of the Linux and Mac ports themselves. They have 4 full time programmers on staff to port Windows games to Mac and Linux. It can't take them too long given the span of time

                    • by rnswebx (473058)

                      If they're doing all the porting, then I'd guess the payouts to the studios would be even less. Do you have more insight as to how the payment model works for the studios who develop the games and have them included in the bundles?

          • by westlake (615356)

            Lets just back this up with numbers, so you actually have some, well, backing :P

            The first problem here is that the Humble Bundle charts payments by platform not sales by platform.

            The last HB had the average Linux gamer paying $10 for games for the average Windows gamer thought were worth only $5. But that was not enough generate more than 1/4 of the returb on the promotion.

            The second problem is that most games in an HB bundle arrive after a very long run in the Windows market.

            They are rarely, let us say, "factory-fresh."

            The final problem is that the Humble Bundle has become rather

    • by pijokela (462279)

      Does Humble Indie Bundle count? They seem to port all the bundle games to Linux and if the number of bundles is any indication they are successful...

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        Yes, Wolfire Software [wikipedia.org] seems to be the best success story on the Linux front right now. They're not Linux exclusive, but all their games include Linux versions. And they seem to be doing pretty good.

    • by DarkOx (621550)

      Does Red Hat qualify as Linux exclusive?

    • Aside from Loki and LGP, what other Linux-exclusive game companies are (were) there?

      • by protektor (63514)

        The biggest problem that Loki Game had was mismanagement. If you mismanage a company it doesn't matter how big or small it is it will eventually crater.

    • by Greyfox (87712)
      I hadn't even heard of these guys. I attended a talk by the Lokigames CEO back when they were still around. He was complaining about the difficulty of setting up 3D acceleration on Linux. Apparently they were looking at doing a multi-monitor flight simulator and it took them three days just to get all three monitors working. And my initial thought was "Just 3 days? Wow these guys must be good!"

      I bought several of Loki's games, and had varying degrees of success playing a few more. Morrowind mostly worked-

  • There is a Linux game company?

  • ok tux racer is kind of fun, and occasionally if a game was made in open GL companies might release a linux client (ie ID there for a little bit) but wow games on linux, that didnt run like garbage with wine???

    mind blown

    • by bmo (77928)

      Some games work well, others don't.

      WoW works well. So well, in fact, that you get more FPS than on Windows.

      --
      BMO

      • That's wasn't true in my case. It ran worse, and hardware acceleration on the mouse was totally broken.
        • by Alex Belits (437) *

          hardware acceleration on the mouse

          lol wut

          • by jd (1658)

            Maybe it's a very advanced mouse.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        If you get more FPS on Linux than Windows, that's usually because some cycle eating feature in the Windows driver is not present in the Linux driver. Whether "feature incomplete but faster" is the same as "better" is a subjective question.

      • Why would I want an FPS higher than my refresh rate? I never understood those people who brag of 120 FPS when your screen is only going to show 60 of those.

        • by vinehair (1937606)
          This wasn't a valid point even back when CRTs were the norm because it is far easier to run a CRT at a high refresh rate than an LCD, although flat-panels are now catching up (for 3D and such things.) But it's a valid point you make - it does my head in when people worry about increasing FPS at that level on a cheap-ass 60hz monitor.
        • I find that with most people it's pointless to argue this with facts. They fell better with 120fps, and by god, that's what their sticking with facts be damned. Definitely don't try to talk them into using vsync. That limits the fps to the refresh rate, and get's rid of horizontal screen tearing. Without that screen tearing, how do you know you're driving a Ferrari of the PC world? ;)
        • by uigrad_2000 (398500) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:54PM (#38893459) Homepage Journal

          Well, 60fps, where every second had 60 frames, and they were evenly spaced, would be incredible performance.

          Unfortunately, even when I get 150-200fps in games, I still notice rather sizeable jitters. Sure, there may lots of frames that are 2-3 ms each, and they outnumber the one 600ms frame by enough of a margin to keep the average low, but that one 600ms frame is a killer. Usually this is due to a simulation task that takes too long, and rendering the scene over and over without an update in the simulation is pointless. So, the rendering hangs also.

          There's a bit of a movement to start measuring performance in a more accurate way, but no one has come up with a real solution yet. So, we still use fps. If you play a game one day and get 120fps, and then your system launches a background task and your performance goes down to 80fps, the change will be rather noticeable.

        • by tepples (727027)

          Why would I want an FPS higher than my refresh rate?

          For one thing, uigrad_2000 pointed out that what you really want is a high minimum frame rate. 600 FPS is all well and good until loading all the geometry and textures associated with a new area causes you render one frame in 100 ms, at which point you're running 10 instantaneous FPS. For another, higher FPS allows the use of an accumulation buffer to motion-blur the video, providing more subtle realism cues for e.g. the fast rotations of the camera seen in twitch first-person shooters.

        • 120 Hz monitors, for starters. Also, the extra frames lend smoothness to the rendered video, well above 60 Hz. In the past, the more FPS you had, the faster you would move through the game space (Quake 3). Add in 3D effects and triple monitors and you start to see why you would want a card that can do above 60 Hz
    • I quite like Warzone2100 [wz2100.net] as a RTS
      and Wormux [wormux.org] (Worms 2 clone).

      Then again, I'm not a hardcore gamer, so I guess it all depends on what you want out of a game. The above have given me hours and hours of fun, despite the low-end graphics (indeed I quite like the low end graphics, allows me to play on my phone, or on other underpowered machines, no need for big gaming rig).

    • For all the years I've herad people joke about Tux Racer, I've yet to play it... maybe one of these days.

      brb. minecraft is sucking up my slashdot time.

    • by fbobraga (1612783)
      Heroes of Newerth [wikipedia.org] run natively on linux...
  • I got an email yesterday for a new Humble Bundle for Android (and Window/Mac/Linux). Just checked the total sold so far, and it is at over 484,000.00 already. As usual, Linux users pay the most for the bundle.

    Seems like Linux/Android/Mac games are viable if you find a niche way to market them.

    http://www.humblebundle.com/ [humblebundle.com]

    • I think the Humble Bundle is the really showing the way for how Linux games should be marketed and sold. I hope they inspire others to follow.
  • by devent (1627873) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:50PM (#38893401) Homepage
    • a) A redesign of the web site would be good. Any modern Wordpress theme looks better than the site.
    • b) a new logo, the LGP looks very old-fashion, it's like a logo for an old book publisher.
    • c) the site is very slow to load;
    • d) they should invest in Wine development, or in the development of Play For Linux [playonlinux.com];
    • e) why do I have to log-in first if I want to buy a game? There are lot of sites where I can just buy their stuff without a registration. Make a basket style like in every other shop website.
    • f) there is no FAQ section. There should be questions answered like, what Linux distribution the games can be played, is there DRM protections, can I download the games, how long an order will take, etc;
    • g) the site is sooo slow...
    • Also, get in on some social networking or some other cheap way to advertise. This is the first I've ever heard of the company.

      I hate to ask this, but does the demographic of Linux users encompass a mass of gamers? I use Linux exclusively for work.

  • ...on smartphones and tablets, particularly Android and its derivatives.

    Cut the Rope [android.com] is 99 cents with at least half a million downloads. There are two unknown factors - how many returns were there (downside) and how many over 500k are they (upside). So they've made around $500,000 on this app.

    GTA III on Android - 4.99 and over 100,000 downloads - another $500,000 in revenue. And a lot of the graphics and engine code was already written.

    I had a chat with one of the Big Mountain Snowboarding [android.com] developers ($

    • by kiwimate (458274)

      Cut the Rope [android.com] is 99 cents with at least half a million downloads. There are two unknown factors - how many returns were there (downside) and how many over 500k are they (upside). So they've made around $500,000 on this app.

      In revenue, yes. In profit? It's not free to write the game.

    • Cut the Rope [android.com] is 99 cents with at least half a million downloads.

      Shit, for a moment there I thought this [newgrounds.com] (warning: not Goatse) was the current bomb in gaming.

  • I don`t know what they try to do at Linux Games but to make it super easy on them and users alike, they could just associate themselves with Steam (Valve). They are already talking about releasing steam on linux. Steam has tons of games. This is just an idea but steam as grown up so big in the last couple of years and its proven to be a successful gaming platform.

    ;nbsp

    ;nbsp

    Just my 2cents

  • by jones_supa (887896) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:59PM (#38893539)
    I still opine that the rapidly changing selection of APIs, libraries, sound daemons, desktop environments, etc. of Linux world are a turndown for commercial developers - be it applications or games. It's hard to figure what you should exactly target and, soon your product is broken anyway unless you keep re-adapting it constantly. Most of your stuff will be from the current distro repository.
    • by shish (588640)

      I still opine that the rapidly changing selection of APIs, libraries, ...

      I've had the stand-alone flash player installed in my home directory for a while, moving with me across distros and hardware -- it was installed on 32-bit debian in 2006, and it's still working on my 64-bit ubuntu 11.10 install today.</anecdote>

      • Even if it's true that such an ancient binary works on more than a handful of Flash-using sites (which I am skeptical of), it has 1001 security holes and should be replaced by something more recent.

        64-bit Flash has worked well enough for quite some time now, no need to run the 32-bit version. Try the Flash-Aid addon if you use Firefox to handle auto-updating the plugin for you.

        • by shish (588640)
          Oh, I have the latest browser plugin - but this is the latest stand-alone version (that I'm aware of), which seems to have better performance and stability for flash games (those that are compatible at least)
      • by DeVilla (4563)

        I'm currently running the "State of Mind" demo from 2000 (compiled against glibc2.0) on Ubuntu 10.04. But 10.04 isn't new, and I had to gut pulseaudio to get sound that didn't stutter and ultimately die in less then a minute of game play.

        Desura is the perfect place to prove that Linux is a pain to support. Games are failing because of incompatible versions of system libraries. I manifests as sound issues, 3D issues, segfaults and links errors.

        It might be possible to compile something that will work on

        • by protektor (63514)

          I find that interesting given that your assertation of library incompatibility on Desura doesn't seem to line up with forum posts other than when they were in beta testing.

          • by DeVilla (4563)

            Sorry. I didn't see this sooner. I've helped on the Groups / Desura / Forum / Application Linux with all sorts of issues involving library compatibility issues. The problem is real. I've told countless people how to use tools like ldd and readelf to figure out what is wrong. What wasn't bundled. What was bundled and should not have been. I've seen several updates to game to rebundle in different versions of libraries so games will run. I've help find out what was missing in $LD_LIBRARY_PATH at

  • by Hognoxious (631665)

    Linux gaming, eh. I guess he resigned due to being overworked?

  • or is the line up of games pretty sad. On another note... maybe they got their business sense from "Software Tycoon".
    • by grumbel (592662)

      Yes, the problem with LGP is that their business model was essentially: Take old cheap and old Windows game, port it to Linux and sell it for full price. The audience for that is very tiny, as either people will already have played the Windows game or don't see a point in buying a Linux version for $50 when they can get the Windows version for $5. The Linux version might also suffer from being incompatible to mods, patches, add-ons and so on.

  • At this house both Windows games and Linux games are treated equally - such as not used anymore. Perhaps a decade ago I used to play a game or two on Windows (such as Thief, Deus Ex, Far Cry, etc.) But that was a hassle. General purpose computers are not designed for gaming; and if you go out and design them this way (by throwing wads of cash at Alienware, or by building your own box) then you are overpaying for your games a hundredfold.

    I got myself a PS3 many years ago, and I never regretted that decisi

    • Linux is about saving money on windows licenses, get rid of virus/antivirus hassles and using mostly unencumbered software. So why as a Linux user should I have to buy a locked down Sony computer plus TV, which costs the same as a PC anyway? now I have two computers with two sets of peripherals, one which cannot run arbitrary software, where I would need only one.

      I would rather buy a graphics card - which is cheap if you get a 100 watt model such as radeon 6770 - and go back to windows. Currently as the lin

      • by tftp (111690)

        So why as a Linux user should I have to buy a locked down Sony computer plus TV, which costs the same as a PC anyway?

        Linux exists for about 15 years now, and Slashdot - at least 10 years. We were around all that time (I was, at least, don't know about you specifically.) Young geeks with lots of free time and little money became into older geeks with little time and far more money (the job pays well.)

        In this situation it does not make sense to waste time putting together a computer, Linux or Windows, to

  • Even if it was spelled correctly it wouldn't make sense.

Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb

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