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Are Commercial Games Finally Going To Make It To Linux?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the yes-no-maybe dept.

Businesses 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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Sure! (3, Insightful)

pietromenna (1118063) | more than 2 years ago | (#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!

Re:Sure! (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348707)

My guess is that if this does gain momentum, it will be for a limited set of distros such as Ubuntu, to ease the issues of installation problems, drivers, what have you.

Re:Sure! (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348721)

Fine. You can pendrive boot Ubuntu when you want to use Steam if Ubuntu isn't your preference. A 16GB USB drive costs $15.

Re:Sure! (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348731)

Maplin UK recently had a While-Stocks-Last promotion on Intenso 64GB pen drives - three for £18. That promo lasted all of half an hour before even the distribution centres ran out.

Pissed me off, I was ready to buy nine.

Re:Sure! (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348773)

Holy crap, and I thought getting 4x 4GB or 2x 8GB for 20€ two years ago was a good deal.

Re:Sure! (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348839)

last good deal I had on portable memory was PNY Olympic Edition 8GB Class 6 SD cards, 2 for £12 (this was June this year). That was a PC World thing. Before that, it was an Integral Class 4 32GB SD card at £24 (when everyone else was selling them at £40+ - Feb/March this year).

Re:Sure! (1)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349343)

Portable memory, I use a usb bridge. Sata/ide to usb, any hard drive becomes portable. If you know tech people or know which dumpsters to root through 40g, 80g, anything up to about 500 if you are lucky are free, as in $0. The bridge is $10 to $20. Nice for extracting data from burned out drives too as the computer doesn't have to handle booting with the drive connected so you can usually copy data without any need for recovery programs.

As to linux games, I have always been one of those wanting to move to linux who was stopped by the gaming problems. I know linux is a better os and wine sounds almost good enough to coax me over. If steam moves over that will probably provide the momentum that developers need to get it really moving. I play foss games when they have a windows binary available. I think this will be a major boost to linux market share, at least to the distros that end up being supported.

Re:Sure! (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348933)

Maplin UK recently had a While-Stocks-Last promotion on Intenso 64GB pen drives - three for £18. That promo lasted all of half an hour before even the distribution centres ran out.

I'm pretty sure that was one of those attention-grabbing below-cost-price offers on an intentionally-limited amount of stock that one has to be fast and lucky to catch. As such, it doesn't say much about the everyday price of a 64GB pen drive.

That said, one can probably pick up a 16GB drive for more like US $10 these days.

Re:Sure! (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349099)

and Newegg has the 32GB type for less then $20 on a regular basis. I'm planning on getting either them or a 64GB after the Xmas season depending on what's cheaper

Re:Sure! (1)

rbprbp (2731083) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348767)

No need for pendrive-booting, even: you could just chroot an Ubuntu and use it from within your favorite distro.

Re:Sure! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348819)

Fine. You can pendrive boot Ubuntu when you want to use Steam if Ubuntu isn't your preference. A 16GB USB drive costs $15.

No, sorry,

Writes are so slow on pen flash drives that they are almost unusable for a linux instalation. Live linux cd's on the otherhand are fine, since everything is kept in memory and not written to disk.

Re:Sure! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41349089)

Actually, pendrive installatons usually just move Live CD to USB, optionally creating loopback file for permanent changes. It still uses a tmpfs RAM disk (and nobody stops you from configuring it on any Linux system, anyways), but you can also keep your configuration and additionally installed stuff between reboots.

Re:Sure! (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348887)

A 16GB USB drive costs $15.

Newegg had a 32GB for that price a day or two ago...

Re:Sure! (1)

Black LED (1957016) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348963)

Or spend almost double that and get a 64GB drive [amazon.com]

I am still holding out for the 128GB drives to come down a little more.

Wrong question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348743)

The right question is are commercial printer drivers going to make it to linux?

Re:Wrong question (4, Informative)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348959)

HP is very well covered on Linux. As is Oki and Brother.
Disclaimer: I use all three, on SuSE 9.2 Pro.
Or are you talking about toy printers (Lexmark, Canon) with ink that costs more than premium champagne?

Re:Sure! (2)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348791)

I point you to my post from 2007 [gamerslastwill.com]

We'll see if it rings true.

Re:Sure! (3, Interesting)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348801)

here's the text for lazy people.

Here is my prediction for the next big thing in PC games.
live DVDs. You’ll get your game on a live DVD that runs a custom operating system or perhaps Linux to make it easy. A huge portion of the overhead costs for games involves support. If publishers could control the environment their software runs in, end-user support costs drop dramatically. The real hurdle to overcome? Driver support. Though, when publishers cross the live DVD bridge, I’m sure hardware manufacturers will jump onboard and sure up some unified driver technology like Nvidia and ATI already have.
This all makes it much easier to play games and easier still to troubleshoot them. What about copy protection you ask? CD keys still work for online play. Why not have a game run its own operating system from a usb thumb drive? this allows the publisher to add dongle-type hardware to the usb thumb drive if they so choose to add that level of copy protection.
You heard it all here first.

Re:Sure! (2)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349377)

That would be annoying as hell. On top of that, it'd force the development studios to support everything beneath the game as well as on top. Rather than diminishing the support costs, you've just exploded them.

I highly doubt it (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

2013 (1)

Archenoth (2592069) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349447)

Year of the Linux desktop!

Not news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348673)

Slow news day? None of this is new or hasn't been posted on here yet.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348679)

See subject.

Valve thinks so. (5, Informative)

Nyder (754090) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348685)

Re:Valve thinks so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348695)

Just Valve will be porting much to Linux, but they started porting first to MacOS X, but some of the games like Dota 2 are not available even for MacOS.

Re:Valve thinks so. (4, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#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: http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey 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.

Re:Valve thinks so. (2)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348841)

No; they're doing it so they have an OS for their upcoming set-top box product.

The fact that, due to the OS chosen being Linux, it just happens to run on PCs to? Just a side-effect. Whether they continue to support Linux-on-PCs after the set-top-box succeeds or fails is really the best indicator, but we won't know that for years.

Re:Valve thinks so. (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348883)

I would consider 'set top box' and 'console' the same thing for this discussion.

The proper set top boxes from the cable companies is a whole other problem. In that they'd be going head to head with the DVR and PVR market. But going head to head with cisco on that is a really really poor plan. Cisco just spent what, 5 billion dollars on NDS to get control of basically the whole set top box market, Valve is big, but it has no relationships with the cable companies, and I can't see them particularly wanting to do business with valve outside the US.

Now true, the NDS set top boxes all run java talking to linux servers, but they don't have the hardware for gaming on the box, and they don't really seem inclined to go that route, or if they do, they aren't telling me about it.

Re:Valve thinks so. (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348903)

Yeah I didn't read your post carefully enough before replying, sorry.

But I do honestly believe Valve has zero interest in Linux-as-a-PC-OS, they only care about Linux-as-a-console-OS. That you get the first is a side-effect of them developing the second.

Re:Valve thinks so. (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348955)

I diverged from my own one line summary, that didn't help readability or convey my point particularly well.

Re:Valve thinks so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348709)

Valve sees Windows 8 as a potential disaster and is moving to diversify their offerings. I'm not sure how much money it's costing them to do the porting, but if the performance figures they're seeing are accurate and reflect other games, you might see Linux become big for gamers. Because some folks do care about those extra FPS and smoother performance enough to switch. It is after all cheaper than buying a pair of $500 GPUs.

Re:Valve thinks so. (3, Interesting)

lowlymarine (1172723) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348747)

The problem is, the Source engine already exhibits a lot of really bizarre performance behavior. They say that on Linux with OpenGL they're seeing performnace improvements over Windows with DirectX (with no mention of IQ), but on Windows the OpenGL engine is slightly slower (~10%), and on OS X the OpenGL engine is about 65% of the speed of the DirectX implementation on Windows and has noticeably lower image quality. Source also has wildly different performance on otherwise comparable AMD and nVidia cards. I've even had systems that used to run TF2 just fine a year or so ago, and now are a stuttery mess with the same settings on the same maps with the same number of players, for no readily apparent reason. And of course we're dealing with framerates in the 300+ FPS range for the Source engine on high-end hardware these days, where huge differences can be the result of otherwise tiny factors, as actual GPU performance is marginalized next to things like driver overhead; that wouldn't be the case for, say, Unigine or UE4.

I think if we're honest, Valve's big complaint about Windows 8 has nothing to do with "performance" or expected sales, it's more about "waah we were about to launch an application store but now thanks to Microsoft's we won't have a virtual monopoly on that for Windows."

Re:Valve thinks so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348895)

[...]I've even had systems that used to run TF2 just fine a year or so ago, and now are a stuttery mess with the same settings on the same maps with the same number of players, for no readily apparent reason.[...]

There have been around 30 new weapons added since last September, and more hats than I cbf counting. That's tons of new models, textures, sounds, effects, etc. That is not 'no readily apparent reason'.

Re:Valve thinks so. (2)

Eirenarch (1099517) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348855)

I am can't wait to see what happens. The Linux users I know won't give money for software unless it is some indie semi-open source "please donate your money" developer like the case with Humble Indie Bundle. I wanna see how big titles like Call of Duty do. I predict disaster.

hypothesis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348687)

Now abnormally high number of people buy games on linux just to support and prove that linux is viable platform (many friends of mine). Well if there will be more games on linux either people wont be able to buy all games to support companies or it will actually attract more new people to linux and they will buy games and then linux will grow eco-boom style, but somehow I think 1 scnenario is more likely. Sadly.

Won't happen anytime soon. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348699)

They already want to drop PC due to "massive" piracy, so imagine this on Linux, where most people thinks they are entitled to have everything free.

Re:Won't happen anytime soon. (2)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348715)

... where most people thinks they are entitled to have everything free...

Most people using linux think"s" assuming the cart is before the horse in lieu of a viable gaming title is a bit premature. Let's wait until the steam port is done, shall we?

Re:Won't happen anytime soon. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348777)

Yes. Most people only use Linux instead of pirating Win7 because they're dirty pirates. Makes perfect sense.

That must be why they pay for DRM-free games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348843)

Namely Humble Bundles - instead of just, you know, pirating them.

Re:Won't happen anytime soon. (1)

blackest_k (761565) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349237)

I know I shouldn't but

The difference between a Windows User and a Linux User is that while the windows user also wants everything for free too, as demonstrated by "massive piracy" The Linux user rejects pirating commercial software and chooses the honourable choice of open source instead.

People buy software for android, maybe pirate some and will use the ad supported versions too. Personally i've never had a problem paying for commercial software on android especially since it is licensed to me and I can install on any of my android devices, that may change with jellybean and licensing per device.

Maybe it is possible to do a reverse android. Android essentially uses java source to compile for android why not compile for Java? isn't the source for android available which could make it possible to target Linux and X11

Might be a fun project for oracle if they haven't driven off all the good Java guys from Sun.

Anyway regardless of that if you want to make a commercial software project for Linux pick something which isn't already available for free in a repository and that people actually want. Maybe the Ad supported model is workable too.

Conventional wisdom is wrong about why Windows (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348705)

Yes, the lack of commercial games is a barrier to Linux. It's not even close to the largest barrier to mass market adoption on the desktop: The largest barrier to Linux adoption, by far, is that your typical computer comes with MS Windows or OS X, and both of those are decent enough to do what most computer users want to do, which is check their email, stay in touch on Facebook, browse the news, view video on Youtube, etc. They don't need to make a change, so they don't.

An obligatory car analogy: If your Ford Pinto is still running reasonably well, even though it gets 15 mpg, you're probably not going to buy a new car.

Re:Conventional wisdom is wrong about why Windows (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348725)

No, when it comes right down to it Windows and OSX are just as capable of doing anything Linux does. You're talking like Windows and OSX are simply Good Enough(tm). The fact of the matter is that most software offerings on Windows on OSX runs circles around those same offerings on Linux.

Re:Conventional wisdom is wrong about why Windows (4, Interesting)

moj0joj0 (1119977) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348867)

I began using Microsoft operating systems in the late 1980's. I used them every single day that I used a computer until about a year ago when I decided to give Ubuntu a try.

I now use Ubuntu every single day I use a computer, I do reboot occasionally to use Windows for games, aside from that I do not use Windows at all.

The only shortcomings I have come across is my dependence upon Photoshop (yes, I now run PS in wine) and that of my games. Aside from that, every other thing for which my computer is used, Ubuntu just works, and does works with more stability that Windows has ever shown in more than 2 decades of use.

So when you say "runs circles around those same offerings on Linux" I will have to disagree, in fact, that statement is only partially true under some circumstances for specific applications, the exception rather than the rule. As a Linux n00b, I have more stability, better response, less overhead and an all around better experience than Windows.

Re:Conventional wisdom is wrong about why Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348765)

I also found the summary amusing regarding sales of the Humble Indie Bundle being higher for linux users. Wny would a Mac user bother to buy it?

Mac has a rapidly growing infrastructure for games in both the App store, and Steam as well as from folks like Blizzard.

More problems than that (0)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348815)

A big problem is just the concept of source distribution and the command line. Having to use a command line intimidates and confuses users, and compiling a program is just totally foreign and scary to them. Doesn't matter if you don't think it should be, it is. So as long as Linux has an attachment to this, 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.

People as a whole are not going to decide to get more computer literate any more than people have decided to get more versed in car maintenance, or anything else. Thus if you want to be the thing everyone uses, you have to be simple, easy, and non-intimidating. The command line and compiler are anything but. Even if what you do is automated, it is intimidating, and the number of times I've seen a supposedly automated build of software break down is very high.

It is no coincidence that as computer interfaces went more point and click, computers saw more adoption. The easier they are to use, the more accessible they are to the world. When computers first came out, and you had to program them directly in machine code using switches, there were very few people in the world who would ever be interested in learning them. I'm pretty geeky and in to computers and that probably would have put me off. Now that computers are pointy and clicky and quite easy to operate, they are something most people use.

Re:More problems than that (4, Insightful)

pnot (96038) | more than 2 years ago | (#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...

Re:More problems than that (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348981)

what's really odd is that I've been using Linux for 15 years and never had to compile *anything*.

Well that's wonderful (1, Flamebait)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349429)

I'll make sure to let our Linux support lead know. He's been bashing his head against a wall trying to get SimpleScalar to compile on our systems for a class to use. I'll make sure to let him know that pnot says that 10 years ago you stopped needing to do this and the program should just work! He'll feel awful silly that he spent all this time trying to make it work when clearly it already does.

I picked this particular example, by the way, because it is the most recent that comes to mind, it was what he was frustratingly working on for a good bit of the week (and he finally did succeed). It isn't the only one I can think of.

As for the kernel, the last time I had to deal with such a thing was in about 2008, which is the last time I made any serious effort to try Linux. I was attempting to do pro audio work with it, since that is one of the things I do. One of the first things I was told I needed to do was recompile my kernel for low latency audio. After fighting with it for a bit I decided it was not for me, and went back to Windows, where low latency audio is available for any WDM audio device in KS mode.

Re:More problems than that (2)

rbprbp (2731083) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349137)

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.

Kernel recompiles are not needed by 99% of users those days. In fact, the average user will probably never need to compile anything.

Re:Conventional wisdom is wrong about why Windows (1)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348827)

Linux adoption needs to happen in business first. Linux can compete with Windows in that arena. It's going to take a long time before we can consume content on Linux effectively. It's not a technical problem, it's a lack of interest from DRM loving companies.

Linux needs business apps and lots of them. They need quickbooks, good office suites, clients for various ibm and oracle products, etc. If anything, the lack of consuming content can be a feature right now in this space. It means the employees won't stream every video on the internet at work and kill your network connectivity.

Re:Conventional wisdom is wrong about why Windows (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349059)

Linux has lots of business apps. RHEL (RedHat Enterprise Linux) comes with a stack of them.

I had a little cry when I migrated from 4D6* and Seagate Info**, which I'd been using for years, to RHEL, where I had to take everything I'd learned from the previous solution and bin it, and learn a whole new syntax. It was hard. I wouldn't honestly recommend a migration from an NT based SAP solution to Linux, it's something you need to go into with a virgin mind or it'll fuck you up.

*Long gone 4th Generation business language solution, I'd be surprised if anyone reading this is even aware of its existence never mind used it or even still uses it.
**No longer supported as it was back in 1997, which was when I started using it, the current incarnation has been through the mill of being bundled with Microsoft Visual Studio, now I wouldn't recognise it if it ran up to me and kissed me.

Maybe (5, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348727)

It'll depend on two big things:

1) The willingness of Linux users to pay for software. Big name games are not going to go OSS, they are not going to be free, they are not going to function off of donations. They cost too much money for that. When you sink $10-30 million in making a game, you have to have a way to make it back. Unfortunately I've met more than a few Linux users who think all software should be no cost, they are just unwilling to consider paying for something. Others will pay, but only a small amount. So we'll have to see how many people are willing to pay, if it is enough to cover the costs of porting and supporting.

2) Linux getting a better graphics setup. Right now there's a real problem with regards to using modern features of GPUs. The binary nVidia drivers provide OpenGL 4.2 and are fast and stable, but that is about it. So if a game wants to use new technology, and more and more do, then there's a real issue with what you support. Ask Mozilla about the problems they had with GPU acceleration under Linux. It was a case of "It works well with binary nVidia, but has X crashing bugs with anything else." That isn't a setup that will be ok for many game companies, particularly if the expectation is that they scale things back or do tons of work and hacking to support various chips/drivers, since that'll increase the cost of doing it.

It'll all come down to money, as it always will in business. The desktop Linux market is not that large so there isn't a huge amount of people to tap in to. Thus how with it it will be will depend on what percentage of people will pay, and what it costs to support. If a high percentage of people are willing to pay for the games, and ports are rather easy, then you probably will see it on the uptick.

I mean if I'm running a publisher and the finance people say "For about $50,000 in development testing and support we can add Linux as a platform and even conservatively we can expect $500,000 in additional sales, and $1,000,000 is fairly realistic," well I'll do it. Why not? Even if I'm looking at $100,000,000 in sales on other platforms a small investment with a good reward is a great idea.

However it is is more along the lines of "It'll cost us at least $500,000 to get everything working and there will still be bugs with AMD cards, and at best we could see maybe $600,000 in sales, but realistically probably half that or less," then I'll say no. It is not worth the risk of lost money for a small potential of a small reward. Just stick with the other platforms.

So at this point, we really can't say. We'll have to see how Valve does, and in particular some of the Kickstarted games. The Linux people were very, very vocal so many games added a Linux port. However we'll have to see what it ends up taking to make, how well it works, and how Linux sales of it goes. That'll likely determine if those companies try Linux again, and other companies will see their success or failure and decide what to do.

Re:Maybe (1)

skine (1524819) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349177)

I definitely get your argument that Linux users tend to expect things for free.

However, I think that the majority of people who are excited about the prospect of gaming on Linux are definitely those who are willing to pay for software.

I mean, most of them have spent $100+ for the privilege to play games, aka Windows.

Re:Maybe (2)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349387)

The metric you are missing is that the Windows Marketplace destroys Valve's app store business model. Gaben used to work for Microsoft and he knows what that means. He has no choice but to do the hard work of building a new viable business. Otherwise it's game over. Since it's not about best return on investment anymore, but survival, your argument is invalid.

Paying for Linux versions is insufficient ... (2)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349435)

... The willingness of Linux users to pay for software ...

Being willing to pay for a Linux version of a game is insufficient. With most Linux gamers already buying the Windows version and dual booting or running under Wine these gamers are already customers. Its only new customers who justify the Linux version, not someone switching from the Windows version to a Linux version.

Commercial games already made it to Linux (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348729)

Geez, some folks have short memories. There already were plenty of commercial games for Linux. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Commercial games already made it to Linux (1)

aurashift (2037038) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348923)

Posting a wikipedia link to a defunct company that had to declare bankruptcy isn't exactly the best way of saying "Us too!" when it comes to the viable Linux games market.

Unless you're trying to be sarcastic.

Re:Commercial games already made it to Linux (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349073)

Loki weren't bankrupted, they were merged into Tux Games.

Please get your facts right.

Re:Commercial games already made it to Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41349169)

No U. [linuxtoday.com]

The founder of Linux games publisher Loki Software, Inc., says he hopes that his company's filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection will allow it to remain in business.

Re:Commercial games already made it to Linux (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41349213)

To be clear, you were half right -- Loki did file bankruptcy, and then were merged into Tux Games.

Re:Commercial games already made it to Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41349219)

Maybe you [linuxtoday.com] should get your [geek.com] facts right.

According to the LGP blog [linuxgamepublishing.com] the Loki bankruptcy almost took Tux Games down with them since they could no longer buy product on credit.

Re:Commercial games already made it to Linux (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349291)

The question was "Are Commercial Games Finally Going To Make It To Linux?", and MrEricSir answered quite correctly. Commercial games have been made for Linux in the past. It is true that the lack of success previously does not present a good case for the assumptions made in the summary because it is entirely based on the idea that the major games have never been ported before, and so if they did it now then they would find a viable market.

It is fairly obvious really. There are two statements to this argument:

  • Nobody will use Linux because there are no good games.
  • There is a viable market for games on Linux.

If it is true that the lack of games is holding Linux back, then this obviously means that the game buying public have not yet moved to the OS. To put it another way, if there already was an untapped market of gamers on this platform then it would not be true that the lack of games was holding Linux back.

That said, with the clout of Steam behind this push, there is a much greater chance of success this time around. This is because some gamers will follow Steam to Linux rather than due to the existing Linux users buying the games themselves. This is why the Humble Bundles sell so well on Linux. The existing users are not that interested in gaming (otherwise they would use Windows), and so the appeal of the casual indie games is high.

The biggest problem with this whole idea is that if the gamers move from Windows to Linux because there are games available, all you have done is fragment the market rather than grow into a new userbase. There doesn't seem to be any real advantage to the AAA game publishers to start supporting a new platform.

Hard Problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348741)

As of right now, there are few Linux games so anyone who makes one gets a large piece of the Linux gaming market.
If everyone jumps in on it though, that effect will vanish.

Linux has two main advantages:
-it's costless
-it's unconstrained

The costlessness attracts users who are total cheapskates and will not spend much on games, the above effect notwithstanding.
The unconstrainedness attracts freedom-oriented users who fundamentally oppose proprietary software such as for-profit games.

So a lot of the users are lost causes and will never buy your product.

On top of that is the unfortunate chicken/egg scenario with video cards and drivers. The major 3D GPUs were invented and developed mainly for gaming on Windows.
Nvidia and ATI don't want to write Linux drivers for their GPUs when no one uses them for Linux gaming.
No one wants to buy a brand new high end pc with an expensive gaming video card and then install Linux on it when there are no Linux games. It's like taking $300 and tossing it in the trash.
And no major game developer wants to write games for a platform where almost no one has GPUs and those that do don't have working drivers.

And on top of that video card's main reponsibilities - gaming and video playback - are both copyright-infested industries and as such there is DRM and patented code and all manner of such bs throughout the hardware and the drivers.

Re:Hard Problem (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348823)

Linux has two main advantages:
-it's costless
-it's unconstrained

You forgot one of the best selling points for me:
-it isn't mainstream enough to be a lucrative target for malware

Let it be so (1)

fragMasterFlash (989911) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348745)

The best way to get Linux on a large number of desktops would be a desktop Android distro. And what would the killer app be that would make everyone want an Android desktop? Why, Steam [steampowered.com] of course.

Re:Let it be so (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349403)

So what you're saying is that the best thing wouldn't be Linux, but Google.

Sure! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348751)

Just as soon as all the major software libraries they might be using, as well as the common language ABIs (I'm looking at you G++) begin properly versioning and pre-requisiting themselves such that apps can be ensured to run across multiple distro versions without issue.

Seriously, I've got a half dozen old 'Linux games' from the first time around, and of those, none of their original binaries will run on a current linux distro, many thanks to libstdc++ changes (Terminus for example was I believe compiled against gcc 2.96, glibc 2.3.0(?) and required specific versions of other libs to keep from crashing.) Similiar deal with the loki releases, but they at least have compat libraries available that will allow them to work (except of course for the fact that they only have 'complete' oss audio support, since the alsa version at the time was the 0.5 API, which has been deprecated/removed for what... 5+ years?)

Going off of that I was talking to the main dev of musl a few months back, who was railing about gcc 4.7.0 and how it apparently broke x87 floating point support, by changing the default ordering of stack saves around fp calls, such that it would take a significant performance hit. Both gcc and clang (which thanks to the former's transition to c++ are closing towards 'feature parity' in perhaps a less than appreciated manner) have been increasing in code bloat, regressions and other issues for the past 2-3 years, rather than taking the time to build up a regression free base for any of the stable branches, they just spit it out as 'good enough' and move on to the next thing, a similiar problem of which is showing up in the linux kernel proper, as well as glibc, mesa, and elsewhere.

What's the point in using a piece of software that will be 'ready in a few years' if when those few years are elapsed they just toss it aside to work on the next big new thing without bothering to finish polishing what they'd been working on for years prior when they're so close to it not just 'working well enough', but being bug free? The notable gripes here being Xorg, Mesa (DRI1 videocards anybody?), and linux (pulling econet support because it's a 'security issue' when the code has basically been stable for 10 years? Nevermind the vga text mode polling support, for those of us who can't rely on a framebuffer being fast enough for console access... Hello Cirrus Logic Server chipsets?)

At this point in time open source appears to have decided 'since microsoft is eschewing backwards compatibility, we should too', despite the fact that if you're not abusing good software architecture practices by constantly changing APIs/ABIs all of that 'finished' code is 'maintenance free' from the point of view of adding any NEW dangers, but removing features is just a slow slide into proprietarism.)

Re:Sure! (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349133)

hm... for an old vs new comparison you need to compare what old Windows games will run on current platforms as well.

For example, will Alpha Centauri run on Win7? No.
Will SU-27 Flanker? No.
Will Command & Conquer? No.
Will Red Alert? No. RA2 will. Yuri's Revenge will.
Will Homeworld Cataclysm? No. Surprisingly, Homeworld 1 will.
Will Warbirds? No.
Will XWing Vs. Tie Fighter? No.

Games that will run on Win7: Unreal Tournament 2002, UT2003, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000, Stronghold, Need For Speed: Underground, Simpsons Hit N Run, Half Life, and Worms.

Just a few of the pile I've tried.

If I'm looking at a day filled with gaming, I'll usually break out the XBox. That's what it's for.

Yes, but... (0)

CmdrEdem (2229572) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348753)

it is not like most people will simply dump Windows because they can play the same games on either of them. If Linux want to really make a stand in this market it needs to make AAA game development much more profitable on the platform and have interesting exclusive titles. And this serves only for new titles. Windows has the advantage of the already huge game library it supports. For now all I can choose is "boot a system that run only some games" or "boot a system that will run all of them". If you consider only gaming the latter is much better without argument.

Not likely, I'm afraid (2)

Baldrake (776287) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348757)

Some game developers might support Linux if it comes essentially for free - e.g., because they're developing using Unity, or the game just runs under Wine. But even then, with current adoption numbers of Linux for desktop, the cost of testing, packaging, retailing and supporting is going to be more than revenues for most publishers. Sure, Indie developers are loving Linux, but their costs and expectation of profit are far lower than the big studios.

It's worth looking at what's going on with the Mac. Around a quarter of university students are using Macs these days, yet the Steam store for mac is a pathetic shadow of the store for Windows.

I wouldn't throw away your Windows partition just yet.

Nothing new (2)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348763)

These guys [tuxgames.com] have been running since 2000. They not only sell commercial games ported to Linux, they do some of the porting themselves.
Oh, and here [wikipedia.org] is their wiki page.
Disclaimer: I know the founder.

Oh, really (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348795)

'Nobody will use Linux because there are no good games.'

Someone please tell that to my Frozen Bubble addicted wife.

Re:Oh, really (2)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348871)

Frozen Bubble is just a port of bust-a-move. You can buy it on every platform under the sun. Hell, I've seen at least 3 DIFFERENT ports of it on iPad alone. (None of which give credit to the original, of course.)

If Frozen Bubble is your best selling point, you got problems.

Linux has no advantage over windows.... (4, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Linux has no advantage over windows.... (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348897)

I agree with this guy. Gamers will jump ship if they think installing Linux will make their games run, say, twice as fast. They are always looking for the best platform available. (Which is why C64 was popular even while the 1983 videogame crash was happening.) (And why most serious gamers owned Amigas in the 80s not PCs.)

Ya but you can't do that (3, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349329)

The thing is that OS overhead on Windows isn't all that high. It offers pretty efficient access to the GPU, particularly if you use DX10 or newer (which games are starting to do more and more). So there isn't huge gains to be made in Linux. Even if you designed the most optimized path possible, it just wouldn't offer 2x improvement. It might not even offer a 5% improvement.

As it stands right now I don't know what if any improvements it would offer. Valve has a small improvement, however you have to remember that is with very old code on Windows, and a new port on Linux. If they went back and optimized their Windows renderer the difference might shrink, vanish, or even go the other way. We need more information to see generally if there is any performance improvement and from this data point if there is, it is probably quite small.

Re:Linux has no advantage over windows.... (4, Informative)

FunPika (1551249) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349131)

Valve has been getting faster FPS (but not by a huge amount) in Linux than in Windows [valvesoftware.com] .

Windows (DirectX): 270.6 FPS
Windows (OpenGL): 303.4 FPS
Linux: 315 FPS

Re:Linux has no advantage over windows.... (1)

x1n933k (966581) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349255)

I think the biggest issue is Direct X. It is what continues to lock developers and big studios to the Window's platform.

Re:Linux has no advantage over windows.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41349295)

I thought Linux WAS significantly faster than windows already. No need to slap a "FOR Games" label on it; "For Everything" will suffice.

Linux? (1)

philofaqs (668524) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348805)

No, not linux, get them to work with Gnome KDE Unity or god knows how many desktops, therein is the problem. Can you assure me that your app, audio and video will work with my choice of desktop?

Re:Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41349107)

you smell like a mac user. If you stick to standards, your app will work under any DM

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348809)

No.

Gamers weak on math (1)

marcle (1575627) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348825)

So gamers think that they can make or break an OS? Methinks there is a somewhat exaggerated idea of gamer clout, as compared to the universe of people who buy computers. As the Big Dog says, do the arithmetic.

I probably represent a sizable chunk of people, (2)

goldcd (587052) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348847)

so here I go with my thoughts.
I'd like to switch to Linux - not for any great philosophical/political reason, just I'd quite like to learn about it - and that would require installing and using it.
I'd installed Live discs, and dual-booted over the years, but never really made any progress after the first couple of days of working out how to do something and then giving up in frustration (MythTV, you're to blame for my last aborted attempt).
For me gaming is definitely one thing I want to do, and I know I'll have major issues with in Linux - but that's not the main reason. Well it's part of the main reason, which I will badly sum up as "There's nothing I need from Linux I can't do in Windows - and whilst there's plenty of tasks I'm sure I can get Linux to do, knowing I'll never get something I want working just makes it all feel a bit pointless"
Still not to say I'm giving up, just saying that my Windows install on my main desktop isn't going anywhere for quite some time. Current plan is to replace my aged ReadyNAS with a proper home server - and for that, Linux looks perfect.

New game coming to Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348875)

I hear there is a great new game coming to Linux called Quake 2.

Android / OUYA (1)

chargersfan420 (1487195) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348899)

I think TFS misses on two big points that are helping to bring gaming to Linux.

One of which is Android. There are some pretty decent FPS games running on the SGS3 in 720p.

The other one is the OUYA project, which is also built on Android. They've already raised over $8.5 million and they havent even shipped a console yet.

Will the big publishers follow suit? Who cares? The point is a new market for gaming is emerging. Competition will allow new big publishers to emerge.

No (1)

crafoo (591629) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348915)

No. Not without substantial work on the graphics and sound subsystems. Who knows though, maybe Valve can get the ball rolling and make that happen.

Better do something (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348947)

Microsoft is closing the gates, and Apple did ages ago. But the big news is that Intel 4000 HD graphics are finally enough for most games. I've seen Batman Arkham Asylum, Call of Duty Black ops and Streetfighter X Tekken running A-OK on them. The drivers are true open source; which Valve has commented makes development much easier, and which levels the playing field quite a bit. So yeah, Linux has a fighting chance.

I thought they already were (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348949)

A few years ago I realized the Linux had complete surpassed Windows when I bought Unreal Tournament (version?). I assumed that I had to install it on Windows and did. It took several hours to install and then I spent the next several days updating video and audio drivers. I could not get the sound to work and finally decided to try to re-install it hoping that that would fix the problem. I then noticed that there was a linux directory on the disk and that linux was supported. I rebooted and ran the linux installer. It installed in less than 5 minutes and ran perfectly.

They're already on Linux! (1)

tcort (538018) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348961)

I played Far Cry on Linux today (via wine), Minecraft yesterday (native), and Counter-Strike (via wine/playonlinux) the day before. A lot of commercial games run on Linux, but hardly anybody knows about it and even fewer promote it.

They are already there, just need some support. (1)

Faffin (2541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#41348971)

For example, Guild wars 2 has only just been released, but it runs. There are bugs though. What would be great for Linux gaming would be Valve investing in Wine development, and/or working with CodeWeavers on Crossover. Buy Jeremy White a Porsche and some fruity rum drinks.

Sorry no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41348985)

At least not wide spread. There are way to many differences / dependecies to support from unix to lnux distro to distro and even kernel to kernel all which have subtle differences.

Sorry I Iove Linux as a server OS as much as the next geek but that is way more of a support / cost problem then the market will produce selling a few thousand games.

Sure some OS/ distro specific but not wide spread like windows.

Games are the only software worth paying for (1, Insightful)

bziman (223162) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349021)

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.

"Nobody will use Linux because" (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349053)

for the most part its a pain in the ass to use that doesnt run the software people want, it doesnt matter if its games, photoshop or MS office, people are not going to put themselves in a position where they are subject to more grief and less benefits

linux is fine where it is, quit trying to shoehorn it where it doesnt belong

Dual Boot+Hibernation (1)

islisis (589694) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349143)

Teach the Create a Distro that safely handles hibernation under dual boot on installation, perhaps by sacrificing shared partitions; and advertise this magic to the public! A completely inobtrusive environment to your workflow (or inobtrusive + 1 minute to hibernate and resume back) would offer advantages to gaming in a single OS - dedicated console-like system configuration to gaming (assuming the distro was more or less gaming orientated, and protection from crashes/memory leaks.

In principle you would never have to restart either installed OS, persisting each desktop at each hibernation. A shortcut to hibernate and reboot (rather than shutdown) should also be made available. If more people understood how this principle worked, having a Linux install would be seen only as plus by many people, act as a gateway etc etc.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41349157)

Linux isn't well supported for GPU's and I don't think it'll ever be any different in the future. Even if they were supported, how many people that use linux are willing to accept commercialization for their system? In order for great games and software to be released for linux, they will have to break the barrier and accept that paying for things is a necessary component for an OS.

finally? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349175)

I have a Hexxen box that says Linux on it. Maybe this is a new definition of "finally".

Hmm... game publishers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41349205)

I'm surprised a Valve or EA has not totally gone with their own distro, with their propriety walled garden software bound tightly to it, but in a gpl-resistant way. sure, the kernal maybe Debian, or whatever, but they could maintain 3 versions - AMD, NVidia and Intel binary-only video drivers, and OpenGL-based engines. then they become as vertically integrated with a bit more control over their respective destinies. Microsoft is going to try and go all Apple-shit [sic] with Windows 8, and will make these game publishers just another vendor in the Win8 market space...

"dontwant" (1)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | more than 2 years ago | (#41349207)

Wow, someone is really offended by the freedom of choice to purchase a decent playable production.

By the way little tagger, it's "donotwant", as in Star Wars Episode III.


That said, i'm all for it. We had the short-lived Loki then and the unsuccessful TuxGames more recently.

Linux Boot Disk with a Game on it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41349261)

Or a boot USB stick.

User gets a 'Steam/Valve' disk and boots it with some computer that he wants to make into his game computer.

Poof, the games starts, it hooks to the internet and he plugs in the fancy game controller that came with the disk. Install, what is this install? It is just magic.

He now has a game console that just happens to run the linux kernel.

AND THEN ONCE YOUR LINUX/GAME GETS INSTALLED, YOU OWN THE BOX.

Hello user. Finished the game you just bought/installed? Click here for another level. Or click here to painlessly purchase and begin playing our latest game.

Once you own all the boxes and the platform and the app store, you can stop making your own games, and just become a distribution company. Make a nice steady low risk stream of cash, and let the newbies try and die fighting to be the next stars.

Or you could be a dick, try to keep it all to yourself, see a multitude of platforms fight you for dominance, splinter, litigate and go no where.

Linux wants to be open.

And start out highend, exclusive, super nerdy, create some real buzz, get the techs and the nerds to be the first adopters. This is tried and proven. Then once the bugs are worked out, the interfaces are all slick, then go mass market.

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