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  • What stopped the flow of big-name games?

    I touched on this somewhat in my TuxGames thread, but I've thought about it a bit and refined my thoughts here.

    If you look at TuxGames, they've got some big-name Windows games available there- none of them are terribly recent, and some of the bigger titles are from the early 2000's.

    What stopped the flow of these titles onto the Linux platform, and how can we get that started again?

    (I'm greatly enjoying the small indie titles that are available, and am quickly approaching the point where I have more games than I have time to play them.)

  • #2
    I'm sure Svartalf will chip in here, but until then you should probably read up on Loki Software, and especially their financial troubles...

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    • #3
      Originally posted by dashcloud View Post
      I touched on this somewhat in my TuxGames thread, but I've thought about it a bit and refined my thoughts here.

      If you look at TuxGames, they've got some big-name Windows games available there- none of them are terribly recent, and some of the bigger titles are from the early 2000's.

      What stopped the flow of these titles onto the Linux platform, and how can we get that started again?

      (I'm greatly enjoying the small indie titles that are available, and am quickly approaching the point where I have more games than I have time to play them.)
      Lack of profitable market, (at least compared to what they are used to). If COD :MW2 for example was ported how many sales would it produce compared to the 1 BILLION dollars in sales it has pulled on the consoles and windows? It all comes down to profit.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by whizse View Post
        ... and especially their financial troubles...
        That was like some sort of epic tragedy. You can actually imagine everyone going "Yeah, this is so awesome. We are doing some great stuff", and at the end "WTF just happened?".
        Last edited by Melcar; 01-15-2010, 08:33 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by deanjo View Post
          Lack of profitable market, (at least compared to what they are used to). If COD :MW2 for example was ported how many sales would it produce compared to the 1 BILLION dollars in sales it has pulled on the consoles and windows? It all comes down to profit.
          You'd think there would be more profit to be made now than back in the "glory days" of Linux gaming.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by pvtcupcakes View Post
            You'd think there would be more profit to be made now than back in the "glory days" of Linux gaming.
            When your talking about a AAA title game, just acquiring the rights to a port can far exceed any small publishers financial ability. Their aren't many small independent studios anymore that put out AAA titles that would be willing to license out anymore for a price that would be within reach of the smaller publishers. All those guys were gobbled up by the likes of Atari, EA, Zenimax, etc.
            Last edited by deanjo; 01-16-2010, 10:55 AM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by pvtcupcakes View Post
              You'd think there would be more profit to be made now than back in the "glory days" of Linux gaming.
              In some ways, yes. In others no. As deanjo indicated, many of the studios and publishers want entirely ludicrous sums of money up-front before you even ever get the chance to publish.

              The reason why so many of the ports are as expensive as the rollout price for the Windows versions (esp. at the time the Windows version's gracing the bargain bins or the closeout resellers' shelves...) is that the studio asked for something like $20k up-front, if not more (If you want UT3, I strongly suspect Epic would allow someone to bankroll/finish Ryan's work for something along the lines of $100-250k...got it in your pockets? ). For four thousand units sold, that expense is $5 per copy sold. If you end up selling two thousand, then the expense per unit is $10. Just for the 20k rights access deal.

              That just gets your foot in the door. Once you do that, you've got to somehow port the game (and pay someone to do it if you're not doing it yourself...) which typically translates into $5-10k's worth of effort on average- there's another chunk, say about $2.50 per copy that needs to come out for a profit.

              The packaging typically ends up being about another $1-2.50 per copy. We'll bet fancy like the big-boys on this one instead of on the cheap.

              Then the studio/publisher wants their cut of the proceeds, which is based upon varying things and is owed typically the moment you press the production run. For something like 4k units, it typically ends up being something similar to the access rights amount.

              So, at this point, you're out $25-30 per copy (selling all four thousand of them...) and you're just breaking even.

              People often balk at the price that's being asked for ($40-55) thinking that the small-time publisher is gouging and keep looking over at that bargain-bin price and pointing to it, not realizing that the studio or publisher of that Windows title doesn't really see a dime of that copy's sales price because the retailer's closing it out. Selling it below costs, etc.

              With the hypothetical title we've discussed up to this point, at $40, there's 15 dollars per copy that goes to profits to make it worth the business' time to do the work, have money to get other deals, etc. LGP has been getting deals that work with 1.5-2k units being the point for making decent profits at the prices they're selling them at. Some of it has worked out, some of it hasn't obviously.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by whizse View Post
                I'm sure Svartalf will chip in here, but until then you should probably read up on Loki Software, and especially their financial troubles...
                What is interesting is the figures they quote in that article are somewhat at odds from what I was told from former Loki employees, including the former Lead Programmer for LGP.

                According to what I was told by those sources, the channel sold approximately 400 or so at full retail price. The remainder were discounted or sold via liquidators, causing Loki to lose quite a bit more than the quarter mil stated in that article. It cost them nearly that much in tins, disks, etc. They also ended up owing iD the same figure in royalties for the publication rights to the Linux version. If you want to know the precise reason iD doesn't do offical Linux versions of their titles right at the moment, you can look at that debacle.

                What most people haven't usually stated about it is that if people had've waited a couple of weeks for the official Linux version instead of buying the Windows SKU and "patching" it to work with Linux with the downloadable, conveniently provided by iD, then they would have at least sold break-even amounts of the title and while it would have left iD less than happy, they would have moved forward with more, knowing the story was still somewhat embryonic. But the community didn't do that- they wanted their damn game THEN, not realizing they were cutting their own throats.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Melcar View Post
                  That was like some sort of epic tragedy. You can actually imagine everyone going "Yeah, this is so awesome. We are doing some great stuff", and at the end "WTF just happened?".
                  That about sums up the deal with respects to what the community was seeing. Some of the other parties closer to Loki (their ISV crowd...which I was one thereof) had caught wiffs of a bit more going wrong behind the scenes with the scuttlebutt in IRC with the developers there.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Svartalf View Post
                    you've got to somehow port the game (and pay someone to do it if you're not doing it yourself...) which typically translates into $5-10k's worth of effort on average
                    thats it? I was expecting a hell of alot more than that. Where do i wire the money?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Svartalf View Post
                      What is interesting is the figures they quote in that article are somewhat at odds from what I was told from former Loki employees, including the former Lead Programmer for LGP.

                      According to what I was told by those sources, the channel sold approximately 400 or so at full retail price. The remainder were discounted or sold via liquidators, causing Loki to lose quite a bit more than the quarter mil stated in that article. It cost them nearly that much in tins, disks, etc. They also ended up owing iD the same figure in royalties for the publication rights to the Linux version. If you want to know the precise reason iD doesn't do offical Linux versions of their titles right at the moment, you can look at that debacle.

                      What most people haven't usually stated about it is that if people had've waited a couple of weeks for the official Linux version instead of buying the Windows SKU and "patching" it to work with Linux with the downloadable, conveniently provided by iD, then they would have at least sold break-even amounts of the title and while it would have left iD less than happy, they would have moved forward with more, knowing the story was still somewhat embryonic. But the community didn't do that- they wanted their damn game THEN, not realizing they were cutting their own throats.
                      Well, there's a problem there. This is retail mass consumer sales we're talking about. People want their game right here right now. They're not going to wait for the linux version to come out later. And maybe since the publishers know that they should have made the linux version available at release date, at the same time the windows version was available. Ain't it true that retail games make most of their sales during the first two weeks of availability?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by xav1r View Post
                        Well, there's a problem there. This is retail mass consumer sales we're talking about. People want their game right here right now. They're not going to wait for the linux version to come out later. And maybe since the publishers know that they should have made the linux version available at release date, at the same time the windows version was available. Ain't it true that retail games make most of their sales during the first two weeks of availability?

                        The Windows publisher wasn't the same as the Linux one, for starters- Loki did the Linux version, Activision did everything else. Activision had nothing to do with the Linux rollout which was delayed 2-3 weeks because of a last minute logistics snag. If you're trying to send a message, though, wouldn't you try your level best to resist the impulse there? Buying the Windows version and "patching" it sent a message- it told iD, Activision, and others that nobody really wanted Linux titles (they didn't put their money where their mouths are...). As far as they know, Windows is what we wanted because that's what we BOUGHT. It's not a hard concept to grasp, when you stop to think about it.

                        Buy what you want to run against, if it is offered. The two weeks that it was not available didn't impact anyone that would have bought it for Linux because if it's going to be "dead" on the servers in that small a span of time, it wasn't worth having to begin with. We didn't buy the Linux version. We bought the Windows one. Doesn't matter how many downloads, etc. of the Linux binary sets have been made or how many Linux clients show up on the servers. What sold matters to the publisher and to a lesser extent the studio. In this case, what sold was WINDOWS. And Activision noticed that. So did iD. Obviously Loki didn't fail to notice it- it was one of the fatal turning points for the company.

                        Now, if it's offered by the same publisher, it's a bit of a differing story- and it probably ought to be offered at the same time or close thereafter. IF it's from the same publisher and not a gift to us like iD and Epic did with their stuff. Only some special bundle packs of Doom from MacMillan and Q3:A were ever actual official, published FOR Linux SKUs from either of those two publishers.

                        As for the bulk of the sales being in the first two weeks... That's the justification they use to put DRM crap on everything. It's NOT quite that way (If it were, why would retailers like WalMart stock some of the SKUs in question for MANY months? If it sold the bulk of it's sales in the first two weeks, then why keep it on the shelves when you could get something that WILL sell back on the shelves...)- it's a wives tale that people keep spouting from time to time.

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                        • #13
                          Ok, one question, given the growth of digital downloads and given that most linux users tend to be fairly tech savvy, is there any reason that you even need a boxed copy for a linux release?

                          Make it available as a digital download only and avoid all the costs associated with a box release (making the disks, making the boxes, distributing the boxes to stores and/or online store warehouses, fees charged by the retailers to put the product on the shelf etc)

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jonwil View Post
                            Ok, one question, given the growth of digital downloads and given that most linux users tend to be fairly tech savvy, is there any reason that you even need a boxed copy for a linux release?
                            Not everyone has access to broadband. I think you'd survive a modem download of Caster or Cortex Command- but Myth2?? This is not to say one shouldn't do what you're proposing, but...

                            Make it available as a digital download only and avoid all the costs associated with a box release (making the disks, making the boxes, distributing the boxes to stores and/or online store warehouses, fees charged by the retailers to put the product on the shelf etc)
                            I'm hoping that we might start getting some traction via this route. It certainly takes some of the pressure off of publishers and studios to worry about "lost expenses" and allow someone like myself to do the work on a percentage of proceeds basis.

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                            • #15
                              For the problem of "I cant download it", one solution is a "disk-on-demand" service where you pay a small fee on top of the purchase price and in return get a burned (and labeled) disk that's a direct copy of what you would download mailed to you.

                              Copy protection (including serial numbers etc) if any would apply exactly the same to the file regardless of whether it was downloaded directly or burned to a CD/DVD.

                              Make the fee for the burned copy enough to cover the cost of the blank disk and label, the cost of paying someone to spend some time burning the disk and the cost of the postage.

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