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5 reasons why indie game developers should support Linux

January 12th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments
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A lot of myths exist about Linux users and the whole open source community. Because of these wrong assumptions, a lot of game developers still hesitate to support the Linux platform. As both a Linux user and an indie game developer, I want to educate everybody with hard facts about the advantages of supporting Linux.

Here follows the list of 5 reasons why it benefits for indie game developers to support Linux.

1. Doesn’t take more effort or budget

Sometimes you hear game developers having a realy hard time porting their game to Linux, sometimes they even give up just because they run into technical difficulties. Truth is that it all depends on how you wrote your game in the first place. If you choose the right technologies at the start of your project, porting a game to Linux or even Mac takes no serious extra effort, or it can even eliminate a porting step.

There are plenty of game libraries and frameworks out there that support all mayor platforms (Windows/Mac/Linux), so why pick one which limits you to only one platform? I personally use pygame for my 2D games, and it just runs out of the box on all these platforms. For 3D you got some powerfull engines (for example Ogre3D for rendering, Bullet for physics, etc…)

2. Yes, linux users pay for games

A common misconception is that Linux users are not willing to pay for software. They get a whole operating system, together with loads of software, for free. Therefore most think that the main reason they use Linux is because it’s free. The following might surprise some people, but Linux users actually use it because they think it’s a better operating system (compared to anything else out there).

You don’t have to take my word for it, just look at the statistics. The developers of indie game ‘World of Goo’ found out that Linux users are willing to pay higher prices for their game. And my own statistics on Mystic Mine show that Linux users are more eager to buy my game.

3. They love it when you support their favorite platform.

In a world where MS Windows dominates desktop computers and Apple’s Mac OS is a tiny second, Linux dangles as the underdog of Operating Systems. Hardware and software companies often forget to support Linux. In the past Linux users sometimes responded to this in an offensive and impolite manner. But that trend is changing. Of course you still have total jerks online, but they represent a tiny minority right now.

Anyone who supports Linux knows how nice that community really is. They are helpful, even giving advice and tips on a technical level. They also give a lot of positive feedback, and are very supportive for anyone who supports ‘their’ operating system.

4. Less pirating. Linux users are not used to visiting warez sites

A lot of Windows users, especially young gamers, are familiar with warez sites. These sites are full of pirated software and cracked serial numbers. This way they can download commercial software for free, but at the risk of bringing in malicious software like viruses or troyans.

As a Linux user, there’s no point in visiting such sites. Most Linux software is freely downloadable as Open Source software. And as long as Linux users don’t care about warez sites, warez sites won’t care about Linux users. It’s kind or self maintaining.

5. Easier to get noticed

As an indie game developer, you have to work hard to get exposure for your games. Most game review websites get tons of requests form other game developers. But since Linux is a niche market, even the most popular Linux gaming sites are eager for any news on a game. It’s the questions of what’s best for your game: A big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond. If you also develop for Linux, your game can be both the small fish in the Windows and Mac pond, and the medium/big fish in the Linux pond.

And again, it’s not just me that noticed this. The game developers from Wolfire concluded that “A lot of people heard about and supported Lugaru simply because we had a Linux build”.

Conclusion

As you can see it does make sense to develop your games for Linux. Or to put it in 2D Boy’s words: “There is a market for Linux games after all :) ”.

So I hope that with this article more games will become available for Linux, and more indie game developers can make a profitable business.

Koen Witters

If you enjoy making games like I do, then subscribe to this blog and/or follow me on twitter or facebook! Don't forget that we offer the best tool for making RPG's! And while we're at it, why not try out our super innovative indie game 'Mystic Mine' :).


  1. john
    February 9th, 2010 at 01:56 | #1

    Or, because you do all your development on linux in the first place. I am not alone on this, am I?

  2. April 22nd, 2010 at 23:07 | #2

    Hello. Regarding your first point above, I just ported one of my (Web) games to the (Linux) desktop. Because I used OpenGL and FreeGLUT, porting to Windows meant simply recompiling with Mingw32. Not even an #ifdef. How cool is that? Granted, my game doesn’t have sound yet, but still.

  3. January 23rd, 2011 at 09:24 | #3

    Even though you might make a little money off of your Linux game, I don’t think it is really worth all the tech support issues from people who can’t run your game in an optimal fashion because they have a different flavor of Linux or graphics card drivers that have poor OpenGL support.

    For all the Windows, Mac, and Linux copies of my game Caster, the support for Linux has been the biggest headache and not worth the little money I get from its distribution.

    Don’t get me wrong, the Linux community is amazing and I’ve gotten a lot of support from them. However, from a financial standpoint, it still doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.

    Maybe if there were a Linux portal out there–something like Steam. That might be able to help increase marketing, distribution, and sales to make it worth while.

  4. February 8th, 2011 at 08:32 | #4

    When i’ll have a second pc, i’ll make a Linux native port of my current project.

  5. mghola
    January 17th, 2012 at 13:22 | #5

    @Mike Smith
    Canonical is in the process of becoming a decent app portal.

  6. agent
    February 2nd, 2012 at 21:55 | #6

    @Mike Smith
    Yes there is: http://www.desura.com/ There is linux and windows games :) and it is very much same that the Steam

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