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Should you support Linux?


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#1 Rasterman   Members   -  Reputation: 206

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 12:43 PM

What are sales of a game on Linux like compared to Windows and Mac? Assuming a game that would seemingly fit the Linux market, a real time strategy game, how much would it sell on Linux?

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#2 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 22242

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 12:48 PM

Sales are low for most games; there is an abundance of high quality free games out there for Linux, so why pay for a new game?

Generally the answer is no, it will not be a commercial success.

However, certain major titles are ported to Linux and do reasonably well commercially. They are the exception rather than the rule, and they are generally major game titles.

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#3 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 22242

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 12:49 PM

Also, this seems to be a business question (sales estimates) so moving to Business forum.

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Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I write about assorted stuff.


#4 azonicrider   Members   -  Reputation: 421

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 01:18 PM

"Should you support Linux?" I'd support Linux before Macs, but thats just me.

Maybe for every 90 sales of a game on Windows, you'd make 10 sales on Linux.

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#5 MrDaaark   Members   -  Reputation: 3555

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 01:21 PM

RTS games make for good tablet software. Windows + Android + iOS.

#6 Rasterman   Members   -  Reputation: 206

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 02:40 PM

I already support Windows, Mac, iOS and plan on doing Andriod. I was wondering if Linux would be worth it, most of what I have found for real numbers suggest its not worth it.

#7 Lightness1024   Members   -  Reputation: 737

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 03:47 PM

in your place I would make a half "support", which means make that the game "works" on linux is not an expensive investment, meaning that the dev should from the start use good portable libraries and never use platform specific code. This can enable linux support but other OS as well and even enable developers themselves develop on their preferred platform. Then commercially, I would sell on linux but not support it, meaning that the agreement is a "sold as is, with no guarantees", because like the man from Gnome said, linux on Desktop is dead because of difficult proprietary deployment. With this strategy, you reduced cost of linux technical "support", you don't have the trouble of post-sale support service, and still you are selling on the platform. It comes with little a risk, if your program never works and you provide no client support, angry people will make noise. But linux people shout on linux forums. eheh

#8 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 10121

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 04:55 PM

You don't get a lot of sales on Linux, but its generally not an overcrowded market. The big advantage you might have here is if your game is "a lot like" another game (say, an RTS) and your competitors didn't port to Linux yet. You might rake a few sales you wouldn't otherwise. If you can identify your market and competition effectively, it might turn into a more appealing market. Without more details about your product, it would be impossible to advise.

#9 Mike Bossy   Members   -  Reputation: 662

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 06:13 PM

I think with Steam moving to Linux we'll see soon enough if Linux has legs for gamers and game developers. If you're targeting the pair of Windows\OSX then you'll be looking at cross platform libraries anyways so adding Linux is going to be less of an investment than you might think.

http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/linux/

#10 kd7tck   Members   -  Reputation: 715

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 06:34 PM

Linux gamers may be fewer in numbers but they sure do fork over more cash. The article below illustrates my point.

http://www.hypable.com/2012/10/03/humble-indie-bundle-6-ends-2-million/

#11 Rasterman   Members   -  Reputation: 206

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 10:50 PM

You don't get a lot of sales on Linux, but its generally not an overcrowded market. The big advantage you might have here is if your game is "a lot like" another game (say, an RTS) and your competitors didn't port to Linux yet. You might rake a few sales you wouldn't otherwise. If you can identify your market and competition effectively, it might turn into a more appealing market. Without more details about your product, it would be impossible to advise.


Here is my game:
http://www.isotope244.com/machines-at-war-3.html

Linux gamers may be fewer in numbers but they sure do fork over more cash. The article below illustrates my point.
http://www.hypable.c...ends-2-million/


I am well aware of that :) Unfortunately without numbers its pretty useless, is Linux 1% of the sales or 20%, thats a huge difference, and seeing the average price is higher leads me to believe the marketshare is much lower.

#12 ATC   Members   -  Reputation: 551

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 10:53 PM

Maybe for every 90 sales of a game on Windows, you'd make 10 sales on Linux.


More like 98 :: 2 ratio... of those 2 non-PC sales about 1.8 of them are Mac and 0.2 are Linux... IIRC...

But should you support Linux? It all depends on your game and your company (or team for indy devs). Do you have the resources to implement Linux support? Are the downsides to supporting Linux worth the upside? Weigh the pros and cons. Get on Google and look for "comps" of similar games deployed on Linux and look up their sales figures... try to identify trends in the markets... There is no concrete yes/no answer for this question. As a business manager you have to weigh up all of the information and data you have and make the most rational decision you can...
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#13 rnlf   Members   -  Reputation: 1169

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 12:30 AM

That's a chicken/egg problem. It does not pay to port games to Linux because there a too few gamers on Linux. And because few games are ported, no new players move to Linux.

I think, if you like Linux and know how to code for it, and if you're an indie or hobbyist, it's your obligation to pave the way for future developers. If you don't know anything about Linux and return of invest is your primary concern, it's probably not the time for Linux yet.

I am actually doing it the other way around. I'm developing everything on Linux, using only multi-platform libraries and will create a Windows port later on. But I'm not in any way depending on the sales.

Development using Linux can, by the way, be an eye-opener and very rewarding. Things that are hidden deep inside your good old Visual Studio are much more accessible using "the UNIX way".

ATC: Most Linux machines that are targeted for games are PCs (or Android devices). Even Macs are PCs, even though Apple doesn't want us to know...

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#14 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6175

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 01:53 AM


You don't get a lot of sales on Linux, but its generally not an overcrowded market. The big advantage you might have here is if your game is "a lot like" another game (say, an RTS) and your competitors didn't port to Linux yet. You might rake a few sales you wouldn't otherwise. If you can identify your market and competition effectively, it might turn into a more appealing market. Without more details about your product, it would be impossible to advise.


Here is my game:
http://www.isotope24...s-at-war-3.html

Linux gamers may be fewer in numbers but they sure do fork over more cash. The article below illustrates my point.
http://www.hypable.c...ends-2-million/


I am well aware of that Posted Image Unfortunately without numbers its pretty useless, is Linux 1% of the sales or 20%, thats a huge difference, and seeing the average price is higher leads me to believe the marketshare is much lower.


You don't get a lot of sales on Linux, but its generally not an overcrowded market. The big advantage you might have here is if your game is "a lot like" another game (say, an RTS) and your competitors didn't port to Linux yet. You might rake a few sales you wouldn't otherwise. If you can identify your market and competition effectively, it might turn into a more appealing market. Without more details about your product, it would be impossible to advise.


Here is my game:
http://www.isotope24...s-at-war-3.html

Linux gamers may be fewer in numbers but they sure do fork over more cash. The article below illustrates my point.
http://www.hypable.c...ends-2-million/


I am well aware of that Posted Image Unfortunately without numbers its pretty useless, is Linux 1% of the sales or 20%, thats a huge difference, and seeing the average price is higher leads me to believe the marketshare is much lower.


It depends on you really, for indies Linux sales can be up to 10-20% of their total income, its not because of the marketshare. The marketshare is low and alot of Linux gamers also use Windows but because of the lack of competition, 1-2% of the computer users is still several million users and it is very easy to get them to notice you. (on Windows and to some extent Mac you have to compete with EA, Valve, Blizzard, etc, On Linux you only have to compete with OpenArena and Tux Racer(ok, there are a few great games on Linux, but not that many))
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#15 japro   Members   -  Reputation: 887

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 02:27 AM

I doubt that there is a lot of "Linux gamers" in the sense that they strictly use Linux... But there might be a significantly higher amount of "Gamers that mostly use Linux for non-gaming" which then just boot into Windows to play. So on the one hand you could argue they will buy the game anyway for windows, on the other hand having a linux version could make the game more attractive to them. Especially if its a more casual game you probably don't want to reboot the machine just to play a round of angry birds...

#16 justin lin   Members   -  Reputation: 101

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 05:11 AM

Currently I am using windows. and yet i didn't use Linux , therefore i can't say , but now i wanna use Linux.

#17 clb   Members   -  Reputation: 1785

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 05:42 AM

In my engine I support Win7, Win8RT, OSX, Android, iOS, Web (JS+WebGL), NaCl and NPAPI, but not linux. The reason is majorly because the number of distros is huge and after evaluating it, the build and packaging process is a pain. If you ask five different linux people what the most important distro to support is, you'll get at least five different answers. Depending on distro * distro version * kernel version * GPU card vendor combination, the support for OpenGL driver varies wildly. The system testing complexity is up the roof compared to any other platform. And most importantly, since the market segment is smaller compared to Windows and OSX and there are no good marketing channels, I can't see the point in it. If you're already a linux whiz that knows the different distros and kernels and drivers in and out, perhaps you'll be able to pull off decent support for all the combinations with a bearable/manageable pain, but for "normal" developers, I don't think it's at all worth it.

If some big player (Valve+Steam?) comes in and manages to unify the development pain (doubt it), then I'll definitely be reconsidering.
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#18 ATC   Members   -  Reputation: 551

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 07:20 AM

ATC: Most Linux machines that are targeted for games are PCs (or Android devices). Even Macs are PCs, even though Apple doesn't want us to know...


I know... exact same hardware... except one has an Apple logo... But the operating systems are quite different: totally different system interrupts, very different kernel designs, different drivers, etc... thus PC, Mac and Linux are indeed three different platforms (even if the hardware is the same).
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"Project X-1"; a 100% managed, platform-agnostic game & simulation engine


Please visit our new forums and help us test them and break the ice!
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#19 rnlf   Members   -  Reputation: 1169

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 07:23 AM

So for you PC == Windows? Then what about good old DOS? Its "kernel" (if you wanna call it that) is totally different from Windows and it is what was on PCs when the PC was born. So by your definition, Windows is not a "PC" either.

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#20 BrokenKingpin   Members   -  Reputation: 221

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 07:40 AM

Linux users are completely willing to buy good commercial games. Take a look at the Humble Indie Bundles... Linux users consistently pay more for the bundle. The numbers are not as high as Windows, but enough to justify releasing it for the platform. And as others have said, Valve is now going to support Linux... so that is a good sign that there are Linux users willing to pay for games.
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