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Are Commercial Games Finally Going To Make It To Linux? 242

colinneagle writes "Those of us who actively promote Linux as a viable desktop alternative to Windows are often greeted with the following refrain: 'Nobody will use Linux because there are no good games.' The prevailing wisdom is that the abundance of high-quality, commercial video gaming is a key factor in the market-share dominance that Microsoft Windows enjoys. And, in all reality, this is somewhat true. So, then, the obvious course of action is to convince the video game publishers and developers of the world that Linux is a viable (if, perhaps, a bit niche) market. And by 'viable' I mean one thing and one thing only – 'profitable.'Luckily, there have been three high-profile recent examples of Linux users going absolutely nuts over video games, forking over their hard-earned cash in the process: the Humble Indie Bundle (drawing in huge numbers of sales — for a DRM-free product, no less — with sales numbers by Linux users consistently beating out sales to MacOS X users); Canonical's Ubuntu Software Center (where video games make up the top 10 paid software packages); Valve's announcement that it is bringing the Steam store, and community portal, to Linux desktop (specifically Ubuntu). Will the indie game developers (along with Valve) reap the bulk of the rewards that releasing games on Linux is offering...or will some of the big publishers realize what they're missing out on and join in the fun?"
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Are Commercial Games Finally Going To Make It To Linux?

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  • Sure! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pietromenna ( 1118063 ) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @07:02PM (#41348665)
    But only when they see that it makes sense and it will not require too much technical work to allow some! Ahhrg by the way! First post!
  • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @07:29PM (#41348793)

    And they're porting to linux as a hedge against a massive failure of windows 8 and an abandoning of the Microsoft platform.

    For the vast vast vast vast majority of developers the added overhead of a mac version, let alone a linux version isn't worth the investment at this time. Activision is even cutting out windows XP support (and that still has `12% of the PC game marketshare: for august). If you look at overall operating system marketshare, windows has about 91% of the overall market, Mac around 7, Linux 1, and then you're into the margin of error on reporting. Linux just isn't a market worth investing in unless you can count on a few tens of thousands of copies or you're looking at it as an investment in a future platform.

    What this tells us is likely that valve is looking at doing a linux console (sort of like the PS3), but based around steam, as a potential future product, especially if windows 8 is as much of a disaster as it seems to be *and* windows marketshare starts to tank. I could also (or instead) see them using a steam cloud of linux servers streaming content, rather than selling you a box too, it is still easier to run a huge linux server farm than windows server farm (especially given the licensing issues with doing that with windows). That doesn't mean anyone else wants in on this plan particularly, but for Valve, who are trying to keep themselves relevant in a world of windows App stores and consoles that have their own clouds they need to be trying all sorts of stuff to keep people using Steam. They can make money on a half life 3, portal 3 etc, but keeping Steam afloat in a Windows 8/9 world presents some serious challenges.

    Like Mac, the linux numbers are going to under-report 'gamer' types, because people who play games switch to windows right now, even if they would rather game on Linux. But it's still a very very small market to try and serve, especially when games usually work under Wine so why do any work for 'native' linux when you don't have to? The Eve guys gave up because they couldn't match Wine performance after all, and while WoW runs on Linux they also have an infinite pile of money to throw at the problem, and something like steam, they want to be everywhere in case the PC business completely transforms overnight.

  • by blahplusplus ( 757119 ) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @07:31PM (#41348797)

    ... when it comes to games. If linux made a performance distro FOR games that was significantly faster then windows in terms of framerates/etc only then would people think of changing.

  • by pnot ( 96038 ) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @07:49PM (#41348913)

    A big problem is just the concept of source distribution and the command line.

    "Source distribution"? "Command line"? Where are you posting from, 1995?

    as long as a legit response to a problem is "Oh just recompile your kernel," then it is forever destined not to be the everyman's OS

    Good thing that stopped being the case about ten years ago, then...

  • by bziman ( 223162 ) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @08:14PM (#41349021) Homepage Journal
    Games are the only consumer software worth paying for. Most productivity software is worth enough that businesses are willing to invest in open source projects like Eclipse, LibraOffice, Firefox, etc, and everyone, including home users, get to benefit from that. And AS a home user, I'm a good enough programmer, that I can build most of the utilities I need at home, by myself. But I'm not much of an artist or a storyteller. And unfortunately, IBM, Google, and Oracle don't feel the need to entertain their corporate minions. What it boils down to, is that the only commercial software applications I've used at home in a decade are games, and then, only the ones that run successfully and easily in Wine (like the original StarCraft). Sure, I want open source games, but that's an awful lot of effort with no corporate backing. So whenever a commercial game comes along that is fun and supports Linux (preferably without Wine), I'll buy it.
  • I highly doubt it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @09:26PM (#41349369)

    I see a few big problems:

    1) Hardware/drivers which you touch on, but is bigger than you think. I am going to be all kinds of pissed off when I buy a new graphics card and instead of just working with all my games, but faster, as it does now, it works with nothing because none of them have drivers. I then have to wait for each and every game to update, which many, particularly old ones, won't do. This is a really major issue, PC gamers are not going to accept the concept of having to stick with the same hardware forever to play games, and having to give up games when they do change.

    2) Multi-tasking. Part of the reason to own a PC is to be able to do more than one thing at once. This includes in games. With my PC I can chat on Teamspeak, listen to MP3s, and play a game all at the same time. With a live DVD I couldn't do that, unless all the programs I happened to want were included.

    3) Game size. Many games are pushing past one DVD in size now. If you are doing a live system, there are interesting challenges to trying to have swappable DVDs.

    4) Access time. A big advantage of PC gaming is having low load times. Things stream fast of a HDD, and lightning fast of an SSD. DVDs crawl by comparison. People are not going to want that.

    5) Launch time. Right now, if I want to play a game on my system, I just run it. I can be in game in seconds. No big commitment, I don't even have to close whatever I was doing, just come back to it after. With a live DVD I have to shut down everything, reboot my system, and a slow reboot at that since it is off DVD, just to play the game.

    6) Now the biggie: The rise of digital distribution. Gamers and game companies are all about the concept of direct downloads. That really doesn't work with live DVDs. Nobody is interested in downloading an ISO, burning it to DVD, and rebooting their system. They are interested in downloading and playing. Heck companies are working (with some success in the MMO market at least) on letting you stream in assets so you can play before the download completes. It is all about less cost for the companies, more convenience for the consumer.

    The window for this idea is long past.

  • Re:Wrong question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlueboy ( 1799360 ) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @10:57PM (#41349771)

    I looked around for Linux printers, but realized nothing out there fit the small space that my currently uncooperative Lexmark takes up. I was facing the same rarity issue as those seeking 14 inch 4:3 LCDs. Single function color inkjets are going extinct, and my space fits were a dubious Canon Mobile an HP 100 Mobile I had vaguely seen online at some point. one. Paid $300 for the HP and my old jam-loving Linux-hating clunker will get canned when it runs out of ink.

    I still do not understand why HP keeps Linux support hidden from us savvy shoppers, despite supporting MacOS X and including a whole addendum sheet about some post-print MacOS 10.7 gotcha inside the box. I was forced to use my smartphone to google the Linux support bit at the store before approving my purchase --salesperson had no clue because their stickers and even site has no clue, of course. Confirmation came straight out of the HP site in a google search, even. What gives? That's just like the nice surprise of IPv6 support in my 2009 high-end home router... maybe they don't want to cut into their own business-tier profits? But HP OfficeJets are supposedly already in the business tier.

    Gnome 3 and Unity had turned me off, so I froze Ubuntu at 2010 versions until the laptop died this year. I thought I'd just keep linux in VM's forever in the new one, so my newfound Linux support allows me to give Linux another chance as a main OS in a dual-boot setup.
    Pro-tip: Skip HP's urge to install their printer utilities by skipping autorun and manually using the Windows Add Printer wizard. I think the utils make sense only if you want new-fangled e-mail printing, or if you need control of scanner and fax features after buying some 20"x10" desk hog whose special features are best left for your office. My Oracle VM had no trouble letting Mint find and use the printer with no fuss.

  • Re:Wrong question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by donaldm ( 919619 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @01:44AM (#41350277)

    I still do not understand why HP keeps Linux support hidden from us savvy shoppers

    I could not agree more, it's almost if the company is embarrassed by this and I used to work for HP at one stage, however I never had any issues with printing from a Linux machine via CUPS and that includes low and high end printers, colour and black and white, so I always recommend HP printers although I would think that most brands would work as well.

    Normally when adding a new printer to CUPS under Linux I let the software download the correct drivers and from personal experience all the important printing features just work. I have found that HP printers have a very good web interface that allow you scan or fax (if supported by the printer) and since Linux has support for many web browsers the controlling and extracting info from or even too a printer is intuitive and simple to do.

  • Wine (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hobarrera ( 2008506 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @03:20PM (#41354971) Homepage

    Why do people keep forgetting wine? Every day, more and more games work out of the box. Several high end big commercial games just worked perfectly out of the box the day they were release in recent months with no issues at all (ie: Mass Effect 3).

    I think what's still missing is promoting wine if you want people to game on linux.

    However, I should point something out; if you care about FLOSS, you then you wouldn't promote stuff like Steam (DRM-infested), which goes completely against FLOSS.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982