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Rasterman

Should you support Linux?

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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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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

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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.

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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.

[url="http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/linux/"]http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/linux/[/url]

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

[url="http://www.hypable.com/2012/10/03/humble-indie-bundle-6-ends-2-million/"]http://www.hypable.com/2012/10/03/humble-indie-bundle-6-ends-2-million/[/url]

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[quote name='Orymus3' timestamp='1349823348' post='4988520']
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.
[/quote]

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

[quote name='kd7tck' timestamp='1349829253' post='4988547']
Linux gamers may be fewer in numbers but they sure do fork over more cash. The article below illustrates my point.
[url="http://www.hypable.com/2012/10/03/humble-indie-bundle-6-ends-2-million/"]http://www.hypable.c...ends-2-million/[/url]
[/quote]

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.

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[quote name='azonicrider' timestamp='1349810327' post='4988442']
Maybe for every 90 sales of a game on Windows, you'd make 10 sales on Linux.
[/quote]

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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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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[quote name='Rasterman' timestamp='1349844658' post='4988606']
[quote name='Orymus3' timestamp='1349823348' post='4988520']
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.
[/quote]

Here is my game:
[url="http://www.isotope244.com/machines-at-war-3.html"]http://www.isotope24...s-at-war-3.html[/url]

[quote name='kd7tck' timestamp='1349829253' post='4988547']
Linux gamers may be fewer in numbers but they sure do fork over more cash. The article below illustrates my point.
[url="http://www.hypable.com/2012/10/03/humble-indie-bundle-6-ends-2-million/"]http://www.hypable.c...ends-2-million/[/url]
[/quote]

I am well aware of that [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img] 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.
[/quote][quote name='Rasterman' timestamp='1349844658' post='4988606']
[quote name='Orymus3' timestamp='1349823348' post='4988520']
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.
[/quote]

Here is my game:
[url="http://www.isotope244.com/machines-at-war-3.html"]http://www.isotope24...s-at-war-3.html[/url]

[quote name='kd7tck' timestamp='1349829253' post='4988547']
Linux gamers may be fewer in numbers but they sure do fork over more cash. The article below illustrates my point.
[url="http://www.hypable.com/2012/10/03/humble-indie-bundle-6-ends-2-million/"]http://www.hypable.c...ends-2-million/[/url]
[/quote]

I am well aware of that [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img] 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.
[/quote]

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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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...

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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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[quote name='rnlf' timestamp='1349850653' post='4988621']
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...
[/quote]

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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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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Here's a parable for you.

A man is dropped into a city of one million people. "Boy," he says, "there's a half a million women here!!!"

Another man is dropped into a remote rainforest where he encounters a village inhabited only by desperate Amazons who have not seen a male in six months and have an endless supply of fresh raw oysters.

If you wanted to find a mate, would you rather be the man dropped in the city or the one in the Amazon village? Choose carefully, behind the third door is a goat.

Seriously, target Ubuntu and sell your game through their software store. A userbase of over 2 million known to pay for games, help in packaging, an established distribution channel, and a market with a well-developed appetite. Sales there would subsidize your effort to break into the Windows market.

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[quote name='clb' timestamp='1349869346' post='4988680']
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.
[/quote]

You may find these articles a good source, supposedly they explain how to create an exe that will run and install on any distro, so you only have to create and manage one.

http://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/technical/game-programming/linux-game-development-part-1-r2372
http://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/technical/game-programming/linux-game-development-part-2-r2377
http://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/technical/game-programming/linux-game-development-part-3-r2389
http://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/technical/game-programming/linux-game-development-part-4-r2400
http://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/technical/game-programming/linux-game-development-part-5-r2421 Edited by Rasterman

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[quote name='rnlf' timestamp='1349850653' post='4988621']
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.
[/quote]

I'm pretty much on the same track, developing primarily for Linux, but building also for Windows. I do it as a hobby, so I don't have to consider market shares and such. I noticed that there are a lot of multiplayer FPS games for Linux, mostly build upon the old id tech:s, but practically no tactical shooters that are up-to-date visually. There was America's army, which I played a lot, and it was sad when it was discontinued on Linux. I then decided to try to make a tactical multiplayer FPS primarily for Linux and after two years of work now it starts to be in a pretty good shape. I consider my work as paving the way for tactical shooters on Linux.

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[quote name='Rasterman' timestamp='1349844658' post='4988606']
Orymus3, on 09 October 2012 - 06:55 PM, said:


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
[/quote]

Did you expect me to do your marketing research there and see what your competition is? I'm affraid that's your job...

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