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Why Aren't More Linux Users Gamers? 693

tops writes " 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 Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:26PM (#22706276)
    i have found quite the opposite, i play guildwars and know that quite a few people i know run it on linux, also whenever you log into Sauerbraten there is almost always servers going.
  • Obvious question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MooseMuffin ( 799896 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:27PM (#22706298)
    What kind of question is this? Linux users aren't gamers because of the hassle of gaming on linux. Wine is great and all, and I"m constantly impressed that such an ambitious project works as well as it does, but even the games that it runs perfectly still require some futzing with. Directx 9 features are being implemented currently but come on - dx9 is 5+ years old now. Combining that with wine regressions, game patches that break wine compatibility and its just not worth the effort. I'll either boot into windows or go play a game console.
  • by JasonWM ( 991689 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:29PM (#22706332) Homepage
    I don't believe anyone ever said games for linux had to be open source, or free of charge. I'd gladly pay for games that ran on linux platforms. Many of us use linux because we choose to use it, and if we do have to spend money, we just don't want it to go to Microsoft.
  • by Sentry21 ( 8183 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:30PM (#22706346) Journal
    The biggest problem with targeting Linux, be it for games or any other commercial program, is ambiguity and the 'moving target' nature of Linux.

    Ambiguity: How do you support Linux? You can't, really. What you have to do (in a practical sense) is support a distribution of Linux - for example, Fedora or Ubuntu. But then what of all the others? For every grateful Ubuntu user, there's going to be an irate Gentoo user who complains that his system isn't 'supported' (replace Ubuntu and Gentoo with any two differing distros). How do you support Linux, when 'Linux' is such a general term, and the variations can be so different?

    Moving Target: What do you support? FC5? 6? 7? 9? The latest-and-greatest? Two years' worth? The last two versions? This gets especially complicated if they try to support more than one distribution. Do you target the latest two releases of Ubuntu, and the last three of Fedora? The latest two of each? What if Ubuntu releases faster? What if it has more 'latest and greatest' support (libraries, Xorg, etc.). What about drivers? Will these distros work properly with the included drivers? with binary drivers? will the game work properly with both?

    How do you deal with support? Do you train your support monkeys on Windows, then run them through a six-week course on Fedoras 5 through 9, and the last three Ubuntus? What if the users are using an older Ubuntu that isn't support (but on which it should work)? What if a user has problems with the stock (open-source) NV driver? Do you recommend the closed-source one? What if they don't want to use that one, for whatever reason? What if they use it and then upgrade their kernel and it stops working? More likely, what if the system upgrades it for them?

    What about DirectX? It doesn't port. You'd have to rewrite with OpenGL, OpenAL, rewrite your networking code, your 2D acceleration code, image handling, surfaces, media playback... or I suppose you could pay more to license Crossover's tech, similar to the move EA made for Mac games... but that increases your costs as well. You'd have to replace all of your Win32 API code (simple, common stuff like opening files, etc.) with cross-platform wrapper functions or #define statements. You'd have to test on both platforms.

    Can it be done? Of course! Blizzard does it. If you inspect the Blizzard binary, you find a collection of strings, including 'Win95', 'Win98', 'Win2K', 'WinME', 'WinXP', 'MacOS9', 'MacOSX', and 'Linux'. Interesting. But is it worth it for most companies to hire programmers to write cross-platform code? Or is it just easier to target the large, stable, reliable, stationary target that is Windows, and leave the 2% gain that a Linux version might provide?

    Don't forget, companies have existed to bring games to Linux. They failed. There's a reason.
  • by Kev647 ( 904931 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:46PM (#22706658)
    I agree that XP will last a year or two, but the gamers are going to sniff out the problems: such as Halo II being able to be run only on Vista...and as reports have told, Vista plays the same games slower. Vista plays the same games but more slowly. Thus, I am sure that the gamers thinking ahead are already wondering where to move to from here. []
  • by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @03:50PM (#22706738)

    such as Halo II being able to be run only on Vista
    Really? []
  • PC gaming is dying (Score:5, Interesting)

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

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

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

  • Re:common (Score:5, Interesting)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Blah Blah Blah... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:25PM (#22707320)
    I hear this every other year and its complete BS.

    #1) A gaming PC has ALWAYS been substantially more expensive than a console.
    #2) PC games have always had driver and compatibility problems.
    #3) Many PC games have always launched in a buggy state
    #4) lol! Yes the Wii, the best selling console is certainly a powerhouse!

    Seriously though, yes the 360 and the PS3 have raised the bar a bit performance wise for consoles. However neither is close to being as powerful as even a mid-range computer let alone a high end gaming machine.

    Honestly also if you are trying to compare apples to apples you really should include the price of the 1500$ HD TV you need to hook up to your PS3 or 360 to take advantage of the graphics. So 2000$ for your system. Sure you can use the TV as a TV, but I can also use mine as a Computer, so there. :P (if you are using on your crappy TV well, then you are getting what, 640 x 480 resolution, its a joke, you might as well hook it up to your PSP other small screened device). Never mind all the other stuff a PC can do over a console than just game.

    Not to mention that the best RTS are all PC, and the best FPS are all PC, and the best MMPRPG, I can keep writing letters together all day... I can also emulate only console games on my PC if I really want to. I can also play older games. I know both the 360 and PS3 has some backwards compatibility, but not nearly as much.

    I am not even going to get into the red button of 360 death, or the lack of games for the PS3.

    I know last year I was faced with a decision, PC or 360, and I went PC and haven't looked back. I had an xbox, and it was kinda fun but really it ended up being a Halo 2 playing device that could also run DVD's. Then it was done. Now it plays DVD's (badly).

    Don't get me wrong, some day it may happen, where gaming on the PC is dead, just not any time soon.
  • by blindd0t ( 855876 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:28PM (#22707364)
    I'm more of a casual gamer, and like the parent post, I often lean toward the console for gaming. I love using Linux to work, and occasionally, I need Windows for testing. Given that I need to have Windows available anyway, it only seems practical that I install Windows games on Windows rather than hoping the software to run Windows games in Linux works out. Am I wrong to venture a guess that this is likely the case for many (not necessarily most) who use Linux regularly? Between users like me and users who simply prefer consoles for gaming, perhaps there's a good chance many more Linux users are gamers than TFA's author thinks? I get the impression TFA is really trying to inquire as to what may be done to make Linux a more attractive gaming platform. Just for the sake of throwing it out there, I can't help but wonder how profitable it could be to sell a console which uses Linux for it's platform. I'm oblivious as to how competitive this could really be considering how much control console makers presently try to retain.
  • by Mascot ( 120795 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:36PM (#22707476)

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

    you frequently have driver and other compatibility problems
    YMMV I guess, but I can't even remember the last time I had any issues with getting a game installed and running.

    a number of PC games are launched in a rather buggy state
    No arguing with that.

    the overall performance level of consoles has improved a lot in the latest generation
    Covered in point #1.

    In the PCs favor is a much larger versatility in games. Also some people might be able to justify buying a bit more of a PC than they really need for their surfing/writing/whatever so that they can play some games on it as well.

    Is it dying? I'd say no. At worst it will lose the huge blockbuster titles. Not a terrible loss.
  • Not sure what it says, but basically to play Halo II on XP you need a certain version of DirectX 9 and a loader for Halo II that tricks the game into thinking the platform is Vista.

    I'm half way through the game now :)
  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <> on Monday March 10, 2008 @04:49PM (#22707744)
    It's that simple really.

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

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

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

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

    The games of the future will be plattforms payed for by a fee or premium accounts. Games will be free and mostly - so I suspect - open source. Because no one will even care.
  • Hmm, I just recently ran (someone else hosted; I got to fix the network) a small LAN party. We used a mix of XP, Vista and Kubuntu, and it worked fine with games like Urban Terror (great FPS, btw). Linux actually got better FPS's and was a lot more stable than Windows (esp Vista - what a nightmare).

    But truth be told, I'd rather play RTS than FPS. Warzone2100 is the only half-decent native RTS I've found for Linux, but it doesn't even have a LAN mode. I paid $40 for CNC3, and I'd pay even more for a Linux version. But for some reason, they don't port it. Why? I mean, it couldn't be THAT hard. It will run in WINE with shaders on low, although no one wants to do that.

    Oh yeah, I forgot. That required a crack. Linux doesn't have nasty DRM "solutions".
  • by Shade of Pyrrhus ( 992978 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @05:33PM (#22708362)
    I agree that XP isn't dead - it's actually the choice of OS for gaming for myself and most of my friends. Why? Vista simply is too bloated and expensive (XP is free at my college). I love Linux, but I haven't found many commercial games at all I can run on it (without Wine).

    I'm mainly a Linux user for my everyday work, and I'd say I buy and play more games than the average user generally would. The only reason every one of my machines is dual booting Linux and Windows XP is due to the fact that I simply need XP for my games.

    I've switched a couple people from Windows to Linux, however they've all been dual-boots. The main issues are games, a few utilities like Catia, and Photoshop. I imagine that I'll also be dual booting until these issues are addressed by the software companies. I believe the "games aren't free, so Linux users won't buy them" idea is a minority opinion. This statement kind of seems true, simply because those in that category tend to voice their disapproval more adamantly.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2008 @06:29PM (#22709114)
    +1 to the dear sir (or madam)

    I've expanded my MythTV box with wine, mame, zsnes, stella, dosbox and even two usb gamepads for the occasion. And of course the linux ports of quake, descentx, freespace. As soon as real open-source 3d drivers are out, I'll even fit a high-end video card in the box for the games that I currently can't play (oblivion, spellforce2).

    I've started to round up copies of old loki games for the occasion as well, but so far only have found 2 (descent3 and HoMM3). I can really say that that box is the most addictive gaming device I have ever owned.
  • The reasons. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by NuSkooler ( 1254138 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @08:19PM (#22710324)
    How this isn't painfully obvious, I don't know.
    1. Linux games suck. Yes, we know there is a port of [fill in years old game title here] on Linux. Yes we know we can play Tuxracer or whatever the hell it is. No, we don't want to play them. Linux needs new titles if you want gamers. That is, when a new title is released on Windows/PS3/XBox 360, we need it on Linux as well. Till then, ---->
    2. OpenGL != DirectX. DirectX > OpenGL. DirectX brings a lot to the table besides just graphics -- and what it does there is much better than OpenGL. I know, a lot of you want to argue this, but "sorry". Linux needs it's DirectX. With that said, OpenGL and other similar projects are a good start, but it's not there yet. For it to work, there needs to be a full package like DX provides: Easy to use and understand _up to date_ libraries, SDK(s), graphics/sound/networking/etc. APIs. The whole thing.
    3. Partially #2, we all know "Linux is about choice". Hell that's great, but there needs to be a choice we can make that works in Home Gaming Desktop arena. Standard windowing system APIs, standard "DirectX" type package, .... the list goes on. Right now there are standardS (see the "S" there) for each of them. That doesn't work.
    Someday Linux will get there. It'll be a great day.
  • by theendlessnow ( 516149 ) * on Monday March 10, 2008 @08:24PM (#22710384)
    Loki had a lot of problems. There model was that they would pay in advance to get games to Linux and make up for it on the back side in sales. One problem, Linux people are cheap... REAL cheap. Instead of selling millions, they barely sold into the 10's of thousands. That and a plethora of other mismangement reasons forced them to shutdown.

    The problem with Linux gamers is that they DEMAND a free ride. Same goes for any other piece of software on Linux that actually has a >$50 price tag.

    I play games under Linux, I have OWNED some Loki titles (yes... some of us actually decided to support the effort rather than rip them off). I do own a REAL copy of Tux Racer (which puts the free version to shame btw). UT2004 is STILL one of the best commercial produced games for Linux oddly enough... but the game is NO LONGER available for Linux (beware if you buy a new one).

    I own a copy (yes... OWN.. that is... I paid for it) of CrossOver (actually I own 5 licenses) and I have a purchased STEAM account through which I can play (for example) Half Life 2... with few problems on Linux. I also own Linux Doom3, Quake IV, Descent 3, etc, etc,... ALL for Linux.

    Are there a gazillion games that play under Linux like there are for Windows? No.... but IMHO, you're either for Linux gaming because it's Linux, or you might as well be playing using a console (which removes Windows from the equation anyhow).

    Probably the best thing to bring games to Linux IS the plethora of free games that are coming out. Some of them are pretty good and that might make Linux a more viable market for commercial games. I will say that UT2004 was a game done right for Linux. Loved to see more of that. It's worth the money.

  • The obvious (Score:2, Interesting)

    by davolfman ( 1245316 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @10:44PM (#22711374)
    The way I see it there are two big problems: First there are large portions of the Linux community that have theological issue with the existence of commercial software. That's right I said THEO-logical. I like GPL software as much as the next guy, and I think it's a great way to public-domain something you've worked on in an unexploitable fashion, but I don't think it should be required of everybody as some sort of moral right of the user. Second is the simple fact that Windows is built on decades of trying to keep at least partial binary compatibility. That and Windows has a slooooow product cycle which allows for support and testing of a few discreet versions. The bewildering array of distros and versions is enough to drive a tech support manager to suicide by itself and almost ensures that binary distribution is impossible except for a few key distributions. At least that's my impression, things may have improved these days with LSB but I've honestly never tried moving complex programs in binary from one Linux box to another and I've never seen it suggested.
  • Quality of drivers (Score:2, Interesting)

    by anton_kg ( 1079811 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @11:00PM (#22711470)
    Video drivers quality was always the problem under Linux for me. For example, the proprietary drivers from ATI is unstable and, sometimes, slow in following up with xorg. The radeon opensource driver is more stable, but missing quite few opengl methods so even GoogleEarch won't work. The situation should change very soon because ATI/Intel have started to release the specifications. Nvidia is under the public pressure as well.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @11:27PM (#22711656)

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

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

    • Microsoft leverages their desktop OS monopoly to lock in game developers with Direct X.
    • WINE and derivatives are popular on Linux and not too complicated for the user base's average skill level.
    • There are other, larger market segments that are lower hanging fruit for most developers.
    • A lot of gaming companies have been purchased by a hardware or OS vendor or contracted to make games exclusively for one platform.

    More interestingly, I expect more games will be coming to many more platforms in the future due to current trends. First, the paradigm of gaming value comes from the developers is becoming less and less relevant. Other users create significant value in network play, by creating mods, and by creating social networks in the game. As this trend continues, small install bases can have disproportionate influence on sales. Personally, I saw this 10 years ago when myself and several dozen other people chose to buy a game together and our choice was determined because one game supported multiplayer with Mac OS and one did not. Since two of the members of the group had Macs, including a very popular and attractive female gamer (a rarity then, less so now). Macs probably had about 4% install base at that point, but lack of support for it cost one developer 5 times as many missed sales in our purchase. So saying 4% of gamers are on platform A, thus we'll only miss out on 4% of sales if we don't support that platform is not necessarily true and becomes less true the more networking becomes important.

    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.

    I don't put a lot of weight on that theory, since I know a lot of Linux users and developers and they have no problem shelling out money for software. Still, it does hold true to some extent, especially as Linux makes gains in poorer places and among budget shoppers. I'm actually waiting for a game developer to put out a FOSS gaming engine and environment, that serves or runs game modules, which are proprietary and copyrighted (much as Apache serves commercial, for-pay Web sites).

  • by CodyRazor ( 1108681 ) on Monday March 10, 2008 @11:46PM (#22711828) Homepage
    I suppose you might call me a serious gamer, and I'm certainly someone who would love to give up windows for linux, I've been running ubuntu for a while now and its great... i just find i never use it because i play games more than anything else. iv tried in the past to play games on linux but its a disaster. trying to set it up, set up wine, things crash, wine crashes, working with the console.... i mean i don't mind tinkering around but it all gets a bit much when sometimes i just want to play a game.

    Also as far as I'm aware theres no SLI support, and if there is you still take a performance hit on linux, and I didn't spend $1000+ on GPUs to take a performance hit. Its the same reason I went from vista back to xp. (well, one of many, many, many, many reasons.) It was the difference between playing Crysis on medium to playing it on almost very high, which is a big deal, on medium it just looks like every other FPS. And please no arguments about how graphics aren't important. after 3 years of selling video games in one way or another i can tell you almost every adult customer cared about the graphics, and they're the ones that need to be converted.

    I think these issues are becoming more common with your average consumer too that isn't a serious gamer. from working in retail and experiences with my friends more and more people are buying specific gpus, quoting model numbers, and looking up performance. A lot more people nowadays will know which graphics card they have, or at least the series, and know roughly what they can expect from it. Then if they try linux, and their shiny expensive $200 gpu loses half its value, and on top of that they have to try and get games working with wine, it all becomes unreasonable to them.

    As far as games made for linux, it would be fanatstic if there were more, but its a chicken and egg problem. And im really not interested in playing UT2K4 anymore, iv been playing that for 4 years. While some of the linux games i hear about sound interesting, lets be honest, they aren't Crysis or COD4, and its games like that i bought my system to play, as well as many people i know.

    People buy gaming machines to run whats on the shelves, and so the first step is to get those working smoothly and hassle free, as well as at similar or preferably better speed. Then once you have a better product you can win over a linux user base and can start making linux only games.

    I know all of this is filled with problems and may well be impossible to implement, but these are the reasons i see why people arent gaming on linux.
  • by deanston ( 1252868 ) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @05:30AM (#22713444)

    1/ Lots talk here but no one point out a solid business model/plan/reason that will pay for programmers to do the game and earn a living. Will they be providing service and support on these open-source games and game platforms? Since non-work-critical Linux usually get slapped on the cheapest boxes, I don't see them giving you the best gaming experience either. But where is the major open source Linux game project like we have for a distro or other FOSS? What is the Linux equivalent of Halo? I read 5-6 major Linux magazines a month and haven't seen it. So where is the demand? What studies or stats can back up the investment unless one starts coding for one's own enjoyment?

    2/ This is Linux - dudes interested in the command line, hacking a config file, tweaking kernels, using free stuff, and coding P** in vi or emacs for Penguin's sakes. Figuring out how to get the NDISWrapper to wrok for the el cheapo WIFI card on my 8-year-old P-II is "game" enough usually for me afterwork. If somebody wrote a 'command console' game it'll probably explode (just a small joke :). But seriously, the super smart graphics guys spent all their brainpower just to get Beryl or Compiz working and pay the bills. No time left to build games.

    3/ Don't get me wrong. I love Linux. Although Linux is big in under the hood in most major Internet hosts and portals, it's puzzling to see no major consumer take-home success yet (other than the Everex gPC). I think the fundamental problem is that the FOSS community is still trying to follow the success of exiting markets instead of leapfrogging ahead into the next decade. At the current trend, by the time Linux creep up to respectable desktop and game console consumer numbers, Windows would've already moved on to more Web based SaaS and online gaming. Windows won't dominate the Web/Cloud/mobile futures. That will probably be Google, but I consider Google closed source. Just how many different distros will really compete with Android? In other words, Linux has to build the unexpected next big thing instead of keep thinking how we're going to lure the PS/XBox/Wii gamers away to back to the desktop. Forget the desktop - build a gaming console and game server with new types of games and ways to play! Talking about Linux games is like hoping Linux will someday overtake other mobile device OS - Not Gonna Happen unless you give a really compelling reason. PC gamers will not abandon Windows until you show them a super high quality game that has no equivalent on a platform that they can count on for ever more better titles. That's a tall order. To do that you need to solve Question #1, and so the chicken-egg argument continues...

  • Two reasons, really (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @08:20AM (#22714262)
    One reason is that developers on Linux are always aiming for a moving target. If they focus on the latest/greatest drivers for video/sound, they will cause lots of people to have to upgrade to play the game and that will break existing stuff on their machine. That's bad. Or... they fix themselves on a specific version but they are soon passed by and the Linux users' machines are using a later version, which breaks the game or if they regress the version, breaks their existing stuff. It's a lose-lose situation.

    Second, gaming companies are extremely high pressure places that have to have large amounts of capital before they release a game. They have to pay all their employees (at 40 hours wage) to work 80+ hour weeks. No game company can afford to do that and release the game as OSS. And if they try to charge for it, there's not a big enough market. Cross platform development is very expensive so developing native version for both is difficult. Even companies like CCP (Eve Online) who have released Mac and Linux clients for their MMO have done so by simply working with the Windows compatible libraries people and just run the Windows clients on those platforms using whatever translation libraries (and from what I hear, they are both very buggy and slow but the respective groups are working to make them better).

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay