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Why Valve Wants To Port Games To Linux: Because Windows 8 Is a Catastrophe 880

Posted by timothy
from the goodness-of-their-hearts dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Gabe Newell wants to support Linux because he think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in PC space. He wants to move away from a closed ecosystem of Microsoft Windows 8. He recently made a rare appearance at Casual Connect, an annual videogame conference in Seattle. From the allthingsd article: 'The big problem that is holding back Linux is games. People don't realize how critical games are in driving consumer purchasing behavior. We want to make it as easy as possible for the 2,500 games on Steam to run on Linux as well. It's a hedging strategy. I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space. I think we'll lose some of the top-tier PC/OEMs, who will exit the market. I think margins will be destroyed for a bunch of people. If that's true, then it will be good to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality.' Some Linux users think that this is a win-win situation for Linux users as it will brings good game titles on the Linux system that haven't been there and it will protect steam business model from both Apple and Microsoft."
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Why Valve Wants To Port Games To Linux: Because Windows 8 Is a Catastrophe

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  • Re:Good luck... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@@@gmail...com> on Thursday July 26, 2012 @08:56AM (#40775799) Homepage
    Speculation has it that one of the reasons Valve is bringing Steam to Linux is that they are developing a "Steambox" PC-based game console that would run Linux and Steam. Valve has also been confirmed to be working on a version of Steam that plays well with TV screens and gamepad controllers so Steambox would be a natural extension of that. Though I forget whether there were any rumors on Steambox itself though or whether people just saw the rumors of Linux support and gamepad/TV support and put two and two together...
  • Hardware partner (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FictionPimp (712802) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @08:57AM (#40775811) Homepage

    If they are serious about this, they need to get Dell or HP to start building gaming oriented linux desktops and notebooks. Linux will never gain traction as long as the users have to actively decide to install it.

  • Good Luck, Valve. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neokushan (932374) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @09:00AM (#40775841)

    I don't think it's possible to understate how much of a monumental task this is. Not just for Valve, but for everyone with an interest in the Linux world.
    If Valve wants this to succeed, they'll need to do more than just port their games and Steam to the platform. They'll need to really get the likes of AMD and nVidia on board to get better driver support, they'll need to convince the big publishers that it's worth taking the time to port their games and find some way to make WINE and its equivalents run at nearly native speed for the ones that can't be easily ported for whatever reason.
    Then you have to deal with all the old DRM schemes that still exist and throw a fit even on newer versions of Windows, never mind a completely different OS. SecuROM rootkits? Yeah, good luck with that.

    Still, for all the issues, all the potential pitfalls I really do wish Valve the best of luck with this as it can only be a good thing for everyone. Well, everyone except Microsoft maybe.

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @09:02AM (#40775869) Homepage

    Windows 8 is a catastrophe only for those who use it with a keyboard and mouse.

    It's also a catastrophe if your business model involves running a 3rd party app store. Good luck competing against Microsoft, Gabe.

  • by azahar31 (1492521) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @09:04AM (#40775893) Homepage

    I just posted this on my blog...

    Steam on Linux is a strategic move for Valve. They have enjoyed success on the Windows and Mac platforms for years and now they have recently announced that the penguin crowd will get to enjoy the games (no, not the Olymic ones).

    Why am I even bothering to point this out? Windows 8 is lurking, that's why.. and Gabe Newell, the boss at Valve, knows it. Speaking at the recent Casual Connect conference in Seattle, Gabe expressed his concerns and criticisms of Windows 8 and in particularly the new Windows Store.

    Why?
    Because in order to make the Windows Store a success, Microsoft needs to block the competition, just like Apple does with its App/Mac stores. As Steam is an online store itself for gamers, this is where its going to hurt Valve as potentially, no more Steam on Windows.

    Microsoft could very well only have games that link to its own XBox system. This makes sense as a business and to up-sell to existing Windows customers.

    Gabe Newell worked at Microsoft for 13 years before he started up Valve, and its here where they have recently embraced the penguins as a "hedging strategy" to further gain customers. He is worried that potentially losing the Windows customer base will cause lasting damage to their own customer base. I'm sure he thought that when he said "Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space."

    Now think about this...

    Steam has an average of 4 million users connected at any given time.
    Windows has an average desktop market share of, say 80%. That's 3 million gamers.
    Now suddenly, Steam is no longer available on Windows, but it is on Linux.

    Will those gamers switch? Or even try?
    Some will move to a console, some to a Mac. But some, lets say a optimistic 30% or 1 million of those start using Linux, just for Steam? That's a lot.

    The Year Of the Linux Desktop? No seriously... stop laughing, it may happen.

  • Boot-to-Game (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pscottdv (676889) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @09:24AM (#40776129)

    I have wondered for years why game-makers haven't already started working on writing games for Linux so that they can sell games that boot directly to the game on any system.

    To me it seems so obvious. Now you don't have to worry about which version of what a user has on their computer and the user doesn't need to install the game.

    Why hasn't this already been done?

  • by Junta (36770) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @09:34AM (#40776251)

    Yes Microsoft will have their own app store, but Steam has many people locked in right now...

    Which is why they have to act as quickly as possible, while they still have an advantage. Both Apple and MS are emphasizing their first-party store experiences. Over time Steam risks becoming irrelevant. Steam needs to encourage more Linux adoption, as the last desktop platform with seemingly no interest in baked in commercial digital distribution mechanisms quite like Steam.

    Additionally, steam stands to gain significant perceived value the more platforms they support. If hypothetically in the future a title purchased once for the user works for their Windows PC, their Linux SteamBox, and their Android tablet, that is significant value that MS nor Apple will ever provide, which helps to keep Windows platform users loyal in a world with more and more diverse OS platforms in their day to day life.

  • Re:Good luck... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by robthebloke (1308483) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @09:40AM (#40776331)
    Direct3D and OpenGL are basically identical these days. OpenGL is more flexible, but to be honest that flexibility just ends up shooting yourself in the foot. Most GL developers simply create GL wrapper classes that are either based on the D3D classes, or they've grouped relevent items from the GL spec (and ended up with exactly the same result, although they'd have taken much longer to get there). OpenGL doesn't really have an equivalent for D3D FX files, so that ends up being a mammoth chunk of work you could do without. Mind you, if you're also targetting console, you'll be writing your own form of FX in all likelyhood.

    Joypads aren't too much of an issue. The AV components of DirectX would be a little bit more involved, but not impossible (OpenAL / fmod / whatever). The biggest problems you're likely to encounter is if people have built their code with heavy dependencies on things like X files, Pix, FX files, game server components, etc. Again, it's not impossible to roll your own (or use a middleware component), it's just a massive ball ache, and a bit of a time sink.....
  • Re:Good luck... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by arbiterxero (952505) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @09:59AM (#40776595)

    as a long-time ATI fan....

    the ATI drivers DO suck. They don't upgrade nicely, often break their own config......which sucks..

    but I can deal with that...... no problem....

    However killing support of a card when it's 1yr old I can't do. I'm sorry, Fuck you ATI. Give me Driver support for 3 years MINIMUM

  • by Rambo Tribble (1273454) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @10:00AM (#40776615)
    If you're successful in marketing a software product built on a proprietary platform, you can expect the proprietor of that platform to attempt a takeover of your market, at some point. If you build on an open platform and are successful, you'll quite possibly have competition sooner, but it will likely be fair competition.
  • Re:Good luck... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bengie (1121981) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @10:05AM (#40776671)
    At least Valve is teaming up with Intel to help Intel create working opensource drivers for Intel IGP, which is getting decently powerful. I would be willing to use an IvyBridge or faster Intel IGP to make a Linux "gaming" box.
  • Re:Hardware partner (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @10:16AM (#40776783) Journal

    Having had to adjust to Vista and Windows 7, I don't feel too bold in saying that switching from Windows to Linux with Gnome 2 or Gnome 3 wouldn't be a stretch for anyone. Windows typically frustrates me, the new Office Ribbon whatever crap is HORRIBLE, etc.

    Really, Windows to Gnome 2 isn't a big deal. With Ubuntu or Fedora, pretty much no problems: everything hardware works out of the box or it will never work. More software works out of the box (more file formats work immediately on Linux than Windows, more stuff is installed, etc). On Ubuntu, you can pull up the Ubuntu Software Center and type in vague things like "Games" or "video editor" and it shows you everything ranked by popularity, and you hit Install and it tells you when it's installed (no questions, it just does it, no installers and next next next and do you want this on C: like in Windows).

    When it comes to going from XP to Vista or Win7, versus from XP to Ubuntu, I'd say going to Gnome 2 will leave little shock. Windows: Start menu. Gnome 2: Applications, right at the top. And on top of that, the menu is organized better, broken down by type (Office, Internet, Games, etc). Gnome 3 or Unity is going to be more iffy; I dare say Gnome 3 fairs better, but as maligned as Unity is (it really is stupid) it's not a far cry off in this case. Gnome 3 you'll eventually accidentally figure out you can tap the top left corner (which is labeled ACTIVITIES anyway, and you can click in that area for the same effect).

    As for a direct comparison between Gnome 3 Gnome-Shell and Ubuntu Unity, the problem with Ubiquity lies in the applications bar on the left vanishing when something overlaps it. Then you have to somehow get into the expanded view or make it pop back up (I haven't figured out how to do the latter). The search box I guess comes up with alt+f2? On Gnome 3 there's a search box right there when you pop up the Activities view, and it takes over the screen if you start to use it.

    Gnome 3 is very adaptive to what the user is doing: if you see something and start to use it, it presents you with better context. The expanded Activities view has all your running windows on your desktop, and also on the right you can shift virtual desktops, and you have applications launchers on the left, notifications from applications along the bottom, an "Applications" button to switch to showing you available apps, and a search box in the top right. If you hit the Applications button, it shows you all applications and a list of categories. If you start using the search box, it replaces whatever view you're in with results of all matching applications.

    Unity just assumes that a well-designed UI is magically intuitive, and then assumes that they've designed a well-designed UI. It starts working out more once you're used to it, though I eventually gave up before getting too comfortable. Unity's biggest failing just might be not advertising any obvious way to get into the Activities view, which leaves the user kind of floundering around trying to switch windows (no taskbar) or find apps that aren't in the default sidebar, not to mention deal with the sidebar vanishing (it won't come back if you push the mouse on the side of the screen--which would cause its own problems too, but less so than the wtf of just vanishing hard).

    All the floundering around with Unity is about how I feel with the transition from XP to Vista or 7. I know how to get to my apps (hit the start menu), everything else in the desktop is alien and has changed a lot. All the configuration settings moved around. I imagine the effect is the same from Win 7 to Gnome Shell ... hell, from Gnome 2 to Gnome Shell I was a little uncomfortable, not as bad as Unity but I felt it. Still, I don't think the transition is as terrible as most people want to believe. If I had to make a statement on it, I'd be inclined to say Unity will send people running and Gnome Shell will prove alluring, just because every victory over the initial alienness

  • by Electricity Likes Me (1098643) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @10:41AM (#40777123)

    Touch screens also have poor conveyance of intent.

    You touch the screen - and that's about it. You can't hover with your fingers and then choose to click, you can't convey different intent (right-click, middle-click, other mouse buttons etc.) easily.

    You also can't see what your clicking while you hold onto it if it's right under your finger.

    While I'm sure the touchscreen has a bright future, the significant of the interface is currently being overstated - all the "cool stuff" ultimately will come from pairing touchscreens with other devices including traditional things like keyboards.

  • by Guspaz (556486) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @10:56AM (#40777347) Homepage

    I suspect a lot of the work is already done for games that have been previously ported to OS X. After all, that already entails the switch to OpenGL. Obviously there's a lot more to it than that, but having your game already running under OpenGL on a POSIX platform is a big head start. Especially if you started out on Windows, since that means you've already had to abstract a lot of the platform-specific stuff out to get it running on the second platform.

  • by DuckDodgers (541817) <keeper_of_the_wolf@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday July 26, 2012 @01:54PM (#40780431)
    I can see three counters to your position. I'm not sure it will be enough to save Microsoft, but I understand what they're trying to do:

    1. If you've never used a computer before, I suspect learning to use a touch screen is easier than learning to use a mouse or keyboard. That doesn't affect most people in the US, but it does affect kids and a lot of countries that are only now joining the information age. My kids are pretty young, and they all figured out how to use games on my phone faster than they figured out how to use a mouse.

    2. Apple and to a lesser extent Android destroyed Palm, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone because people got so attached to their iPhones that they brought them to work and refused to use corporate substitutes. If that's a few isolated incidents then the employee involved gets disciplined or fired. But when it affects a large percentage of employees plus managers and top executives, anyone in the IT staff that insists on Palm, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, etc... is told to change the IT policy or be replaced. So Microsoft is trying to work the same way - make Windows 8 consumer first, business second, and hope they can get back into enterprise business through the same "bring your personal device to work" route that the iPhone took. And unifying the interface across all devices works in both directions - maybe the consumer who buys a Windows 8 tablet takes his device to work, and maybe another consumer forced to use Windows 8 at work becomes accustomed to it and purchases a Windows 8 phone or tablet. I don't think it will work, but I can see why they are trying. I suspect that if Microsoft doesn't pour everything into this massive makeover, in ten years people will be using the iPad 15 with HDMI out to a 30 inch monitor with bluetooth keyboard and mouse at the office, and then taking the iPad home to surf the web and play games in the evening, and Microsoft will be cut out of most of the world's enterprise office space and consumer computing device market.

    3. Microsoft executives must understand how important low price is. The iPad manages to sell like hotcakes at the $500 price point, but it has the strength of the Apple brand. ( I hate the Apple brand, but clearly most of the US doesn't share my views. ) The only Android tablets that have grabbed a significant piece of the tablet market are the 7 inch, $200 Amazon Kindle and now maybe the 7 inch, $200 Google Nexus 7 - smaller and more importantly much cheaper than the iPad. If Microsoft starts selling the Surface RT (ARM processor) 10 inch tablets at a $300 or so price point and they manage to adequately explain to buyers that Windows on Arm won't run legacy x86 apps so there is not mass confusion, I think they might have a shot at getting at least some of the market. If on the other hand they try to price head to head with the iPad or higher than the iPad they will get killed. I think they know that, and will price accordingly - if I was running Microsoft, at this point I would be trying to convince the board of directors that the long term survival of the company hinged upon dethroning the iPhone and iPad, and that if Microsoft had to take a loss for five years straight to pull it off, that would be a price worth paying.

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