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An Interview With A Linux Game Porter

Michael Larabel

Published on 3 July 2009
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 3 of 4 - 20 Comments

Are there any success stories you have to share about companies that have been apprehensive about bringing their title(s) to Linux but have since found this to be a viable business opportunity?

Not right at this time. I've got a good success story, but Elecorn was actually looking for a good developer to bring the Linux side in and be willing to support it and any non-x86 platforms like the Pandora at the same time. He's finding out that there was MUCH more of a market with our community than he'd hoped for- "surprised" was one of the words used in one of his recent blog postings.

Check back in a bit. I hope to have a better answer for you on that score after a while. I'm going to be talking with the studios on my "looking into" part of the list on the thread that garnered all the attention over in the Phoronix Forums of late now that I'm well into getting the ARM version for Caster built and planning on seeing if I can show off an OMAP3 version of it shortly. Some of the list items would be from companies that might be in the apprehensive category and I hope to showcase what I've done so far to convince them that it can be done and I can help them do it.

What is the single biggest challenge facing the Linux gaming scene?

Convincing people to stick with Linux when they make PC type gaming decisions.

The forum people are going to either nod their heads or roll their eyes at this:

Part of the problem with Linux gaming isn't so much that they think we're at the 1% mark or we're too much effort for the return- many of them know better than that. They actually think we won't buy Linux titles or gaming peripherals that support Linux.

When you buy a Windows title, you did just that- bought for Windows. The studio and publisher just got your money and don't care one whit that you're running under WINE. You may well be one game patch away from not being able to run it as most of the studios and publishers have no qualms whatsoever in breaking you. EVE Online is an exception in that they've chosen to officially support us via that route. Many will remember the "fun" World of Warcraft players running under WINE had a while back. Once there was a bunch of flak, Blizzard changed their position on the whole affair- but until they got that pushback, they didn't care one whit. To them, you're supposed to be another Windows user, not a Linux user. Why would you want to enter into a relationship like that?

Don't get me wrong on WINE. I use it. I think it's an amazing piece of software and I'm constantly impressed at what they DO manage to make work with it. It's just more than a bit less than optimal for getting things to start happening for us in gaming when you use it as an answer for Linux gaming, in my not so humble opinion on the subject. Until the accountants and upper management of the publishers like Eidos, 2K Games, and EA see that we're going to BUY a Linux version, we're not going to see it from companies like theirs for a while yet to come.

Beyond just Linux gaming, what do you view as the single biggest struggle for Linux?

Getting acknowledged for the actual userbase size. The community and userbase for Linux is substantively larger than the percentages people keep trying to attribute to us. Without a better bead on things, even if a company has an idea that we're there and waiting, they're going to have some difficulty getting honest assessments within the company of whether it's going to be worth their time for supporting Linux. We're going to be facing that problem for a while yet to come unless the mobile device market heats up for Linux like it might look like will happen over the next couple of years.

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