Steam - It's Not Just for Windows and Macs Anymore

heavyfeul wrote:

Just because Valve wants to support Linux does not mean other publishers will follow.

True enough, but it would be one step easier on that platform.

TheGameguru wrote:

Valve is in the digital distribution biz..having Steam on every single Linux desktop won't entice that many more developers to produce big name titles for Linux.. But with Steam handling distro and a better than Windows "driver and install" experience. I could see some Indie love on Linux.

Fundamentally this must come down to that fact that available linux gaming audience is worth the (trivial?) effort to port steam to linux. I doubt it'll be some fabulous cash cow but they must reckon that it'll be reasonably profitable.

I think the indie point is a good one. Will we see big AAA titles ported to linux? Probably not for the foreseeable future but at least half the indie games I've picked up on steam support steamplay. So I'd imagine that Valve are banking on the notion that if smaller Devs are willing to port to OSX then they'll be willing to do the little extra work to additionally port to linux. After all OSX to some other *nix isn't as great a porting distance as Win to *nix. It'll be interesting to see if this is the case.

DanB wrote:

So I'd imagine that Valve are banking on the notion that if smaller Devs are willing to port to OSX then they'll be willing to do the little extra work to additionally port to linux.

They already are. All those indie bundles are flush with Linux games. There's a whole mess of them sitting in my Desura client on my Linux desktop.

Something to remember with games as well, and I appreciate this only works to a certain extent, is that the game content is platform neutral while the code for many games developers are used to porting anyway.

Textures, sounds, scripting and production of that doesn't matter so much what platform it ends up on so long as it obeys the constraints of where they intend selling it (memory limits on consoles, etc), and that part is often the expensive bit that takes a lot of manpower to make. Once you've made it once, the costs to make it for another platform aren't going to be as high.

As far as the engine and tuning goes, there do seem to be two schools of thought, to be exclusive to very few platforms or one and optimise the hell out of your game, or to have broad support for lots of platforms and not optimise so heavily down to minute specifics. There do seem to be some developers for who it probably wouldn't be so difficult to add another port as it's a variation on something else. For example if Sega released a megadrive 4000 with comparable specs to MS/Sony's consoles, it would probably get games made for it.

Until Linux on the desktop approaches the ease of use of Windows and the mass penetration. Having a digital distribution platform won't matter a hill of beans even if it is Steam..it's a classic build it before there is demand. And that rarely works

*Legion* wrote:
DanB wrote:

So I'd imagine that Valve are banking on the notion that if smaller Devs are willing to port to OSX then they'll be willing to do the little extra work to additionally port to linux.

They already are. All those indie bundles are flush with Linux games. There's a whole mess of them sitting in my Desura client on my Linux desktop.

True enough but I'd be surprised if even 20% of the Indie games on Steam have linux versions available.

Linux is just not in the same league as Windows and Mac OS. It has its place and a small contingent of loyal users and devs., but it will never be a good consumer entertainment platform. Interesting news for nerds, but most gamers probably think you are talking about a Peanuts character when you mention Linux.

Isn't the PS3 OS built on Linux or did they just support Linux installations for a while? Could the news be Steam on PS3 related?

Oops.

I don't know, linux works quite well for media players, I don't see how you could say that's not a consumer entertainment platform. At the end of the day, it's a collection of software bits to drive hardware in a useful way, the same as windows. Yes, many people are looking at it from a windows/mac perspective, but they've probably got years of 'training' behind them in those OSes and how they work and operate them. Depending on what you want to do with an OS, there's always unfriendly arcane trickery to do, on all of them.

If you haven't recently, fire up a modern linux variant, it's not so bad on the usability front, and the next time you're installing something on windows, take note of everything you have to do to get it running. The comparison might surprise you.

Computing is a very fast moving field, so my attitude always is "never say never".

DanB wrote:
*Legion* wrote:
DanB wrote:

So I'd imagine that Valve are banking on the notion that if smaller Devs are willing to port to OSX then they'll be willing to do the little extra work to additionally port to linux.

They already are. All those indie bundles are flush with Linux games. There's a whole mess of them sitting in my Desura client on my Linux desktop.

True enough but I'd be surprised if even 20% of the Indie games on Steam have linux versions available.

Probably not, but I think the point is that the absolute number of games on Linux is a lot higher than many people suspect. Enough to get people like me installing and using Desura.

It's worthwhile for both Valve and devs who do support Linux to care about this for a couple of reasons.

On the dev side, this makes it more obvious to people who use PCs and Macs for gaming which games are also available on Linux (something that people care enough about for it to show up in the Indie bundles and kickstarters pretty regularly.) Having stuff in as well known a place as Steam and having people browse the list and say "Oh! On Linux!" and snag stuff isn't a bad thing. It also means that devs who want to support Linux and want to distribute through Steam don't have to come up with yet another distribution mechanism just for the Linux version. (They might want to support other mechanisms for other reasons, but "Steam isn't available on Linux" won't be one of them.)

On Valve's side, having Steam available on Linux is a bit of extra advertising to those who prefer to game on Linux. Sure, most of the games won't be on Linux--but having Linux users running Steam adds to network effects. Both through seeing what's on the store for other OSs, and through seeing what friends are playing and being able to chat with them.

I doubt this is really going to change the landscape much--it didn't seriously change the Mac gaming landscape either--but it adds a bit of convenience for everybody involved.

(On the Mac side: I noticed recently when the King's Bounty series for Mac was added on Steam, enough to re-download the games on my PC and to recommend them to a friend of mine. The Mac support wasn't really all that important, although it was nice for multi-platform users like us. But it added a bit of exposure. And I have another friend who does like gaming on Linux when he can, although he'll go into Windows for big-ticket things like Skyrim. If I saw a cool game show up on Linux, I'd surely tell him about it.)

*Legion* wrote:
DanB wrote:
*Legion* wrote:
DanB wrote:

So I'd imagine that Valve are banking on the notion that if smaller Devs are willing to port to OSX then they'll be willing to do the little extra work to additionally port to linux.

They already are. All those indie bundles are flush with Linux games. There's a whole mess of them sitting in my Desura client on my Linux desktop.

True enough but I'd be surprised if even 20% of the Indie games on Steam have linux versions available.

Probably not, but I think the point is that the absolute number of games on Linux is a lot higher than many people suspect. Enough to get people like me installing and using Desura.

Yeah, totally agree. In the end of the day, however you cut it this has happened because Valve must believe there is a profitable market available and porting Steam was a sufficiently trivial and/or inexpensive task.

Even if little comes out beyond indie and Source games are released, it may be worth development costs just to challenge the status quo.

I wish gaming would catch on for linux. It appears that most off the shelf boxes at a reasonable price are anemic for gaming. So I am confronted with buying parts and building a machine. So I either pay a $100 or $200 Windows tax for that box. I would rather use a free operating system, especially if it is for gaming, and not office work.

I know that I am behind the times, but I have started to migrate my productivity applications to freeware where I can. Largely for the freedom of being able to install them anywhere, anytime without codes to worry about.

There is one $500 per year application that I have access to for $30 per year through my employer. I have just this week decided to switch to an open source alternative because it is a hassle to renew my license every year and usually I get caught out and can't use the software while waiting for the new license code to become available.

Back to the topic though. I am considering building a Linux box for my son since he is stuck on MineCraft. Once there is sufficient demand for Windows on that box, I will bite the bullet. But I want to see how long I can hold out.

I would not equate purchasing an OS for your computer as a tax. That is like calling the steering column to your car a dealership extra.

Windows is cheap, powerful, and you only have to buy one every five to eight years. Talk about fleecing your customers.

heavyfeul wrote:

I would not equate purchasing an OS for your computer as a tax. That is like calling the steering column to your car a dealership extra.

Windows is cheap, powerful, and you only have to buy one every five to eight years. Talk about fleecing your customers.

OK, Windows an awesome deal. Still really would like to be able to use the free alternative, especially when all the OS would be for is booting up games.

It's called the windows tax because when you buy a computer in a box from a store, often it's just there without any option as the de-facto standard. Without going for a self build or choosing a spec from a place like dell, there is no choice. I can choose pretty much everything else about a PC I'd buy, CPU from AMD or intel, graphics from AMD or nvidia or none, almost any memory amount, but the windows monopoly made OS not one of them for how most people buy their PCs, and that compulsory software component comes with a cost.

I'm pretty certain you are required to call it the M$ tax, not the windows tax.

For a long time, you paid for a Windows license whether or not you got Windows -- manufacturers got a special discount on Windows if they counted up the number of computers they sold, and then bought that many copies. So the price of your computer included the cost of Windows, no matter what you were doing with it.

I don't think they do that anymore, but it's still very difficult to buy a computer that doesn't have Windows included in the price.

Malor wrote:

For a long time, you paid for a Windows license whether or not you got Windows -- manufacturers got a special discount on Windows if they counted up the number of computers they sold, and then bought that many copies. So the price of your computer included the cost of Windows, no matter what you were doing with it.

I don't think they do that anymore, but it's still very difficult to buy a computer that doesn't have Windows included in the price.

And if you build your own the win licence can be 20-50% of the component cost of the machine.

Windows provides its users with a massive library of new and old titles. The number of games you can play on Windows (old and new) dwarfs any other platform. Plus we have three gaming consoles to choose from and the iOS platform gaining a ton of support recently as well. I don't see how Linux can make my gaming experience better or cheaper. A very small segment of gamers may enjoy Linux support, but it will never be a significant gaming platform. There will always be a paucity of games. Even indie developers want to make a profit. Linux support will always be on the bottom of the feature list.

Also, open source is for hippies.

You could apply that to consoles though, and while it's not a perfect comparison, it's false to say just because a platform is new it'll never catch on.

PS4? Where's the games for it?

Not that linux is new, or many of the tech that goes into linux or running games on linux. You could probably argue it's more established than any given version of windows. How about all those old windows games that have peculiarities if you run them on a modern version? In fact linux is already a gaming platform, developers already understand how to make games on linux, just not many are in the big AAA market. What steam would provide is another avenue for easier commercial use of linux games.

Linux is also not completely different from the rest, it's just a different OS for PC hardware, and shares many of the same constraints. As I said upthread, if a developer is already doing multiplatform development, it's not that much more work to add another similar platform to that mix. Like many other aspects (not necessarily coding) of game development, it's going to be more about proper project management and factoring what the game will do.

Change isn't going to happen fast and it's not going to be universal, just as there wasn't universal and instant mac support, but would be a big factor to encourage linux development.

I think someone would have to majorly screw the golden goose in order for gamers to flock to Linux. That said, having it able to run Source games and indie games like the Humble Bundles will give better ground for negotiation.

I'm thinking that distributors, who are unlikely in the extreme to want to pay for ports to yet another platform, may even like it, since it gives them an argument against Windows 8 lock in. If Microsoft puts a gun to their head with the new GFW, they can release on PS3, and Steam for OSX, legacy Windows, and Linux. (and iOS or Android or whatever else comes along by then.)

I think it is less of a viable alternative and more of a possible future bargaining chip comparable to publishers choosing to release books w/o DRM to combat Kindle, Nook, or whatever lock-in. Tor just announced they are going DRM-free, largely in part as a bone to their customers who are worried that they will lose access to their books when this generation of readers is replaced.

I highly doubt Linux will compte with Windows, but the remote possibility of Linux being able to compete if Microsoft tries too hard to lock in consumers w/ Windows 8 may be a bargaining chip.

The "games on windows" thing really seems to be a good example of MS's dilemma right now with what they want to do with windows. I think they're torn right now between maintaining their backwards compatibility, and going for the walled garden with the tablets (and anything else they could get away with). W8 is trying to have it's cake and eat it with both sides, but it's ugly from the 'old' desktop (and general PC gaming) perspective.

Part of me is curious to see what MS could do with a clean slate OS, and cutting backwards compatibility, but as soon as they do that they let a lot of people potentially go to competing OSes.

The question is often not can you make a profit, but if the profit you will make is worthwhile. You can make a lot more money on other platforms. Even if you can support Linux for a relatively small bump in your budget, that does not mean the bean counters are going to say go for it. How much post release support money do you budget as well? Will Linux versions have more bugs? Less customer satisfaction? Are GPU makers going to provide decent driver support? How will they handle DRM inside an OS built on open source code? How stable will the platform be overall?

We can all envision the possibilities, but I do not think they will ever come to fruition. Valve's Linux support is not a significant announcement of a sea-change in the industry. Valve is a publisher, developer, and the most successful online game retailer. Just because it makes sense to support Linux for Valve, does not mean it will make sense to other publishers. Valve is just crossing the T's and dotting the I's. It makes sense for them, because they open up Steam to some new customers, they can sell their Source games and run them natively on Linux, and if another publisher supports Linux, then they are ready to take their vig.

Unless the Source engine become the basis for most games, I doubt we will see many Linux versions of games from other publishers.

This announcement is more of a commercial for the Source engine than anything else.

The only thing that is certain is that reality will change, especially in the technology sector.

My local school has left Microsoft Office and gone to Gmail and Google Docs because it is cheaper and universally available to the students at home and in the classroom. They have invited students to bring in their iOS devices for classroom work instead of buying laptops with Windows on it.

Once education and state governments embrace the Microsoft alternative, all bets are off.

I am really not an open source evangelist, but things can and will change.

Greg wrote:

things can and will change.

This.

Greg wrote:

The only thing that is certain is that reality will change, especially in the technology sector.

My local school has left Microsoft Office and gone to Gmail and Google Docs because it is cheaper and universally available to the students at home and in the classroom. They have invited students to bring in their iOS devices for classroom work instead of buying laptops with Windows on it.

Once education and state governments embrace the Microsoft alternative, all bets are off.

I am really not an open source evangelist, but things can and will change.

I can buy into home users and enterprises flocking to OS X.. flocking to Linux? not so much.

TheGameguru wrote:

I can buy into home users and enterprises flocking to OS X.

If that much happens, does the rest really matter in terms of PC gaming?

I don't see it so much as 'getting everyone onto linux' as a 'getting off windows, and getting less platform specific'. If there is a movement of the gaming audience, and a developer wants to make an expensive game (most (?) of the cost of a game is in the content production), then they'll have an incentive to cater to as large an audience as they can.

Having said all that, looking at the steam hardware survey stats, and summing up every OS that doesn't explicitly identify itself as windows (might include some odd versions of windows) only comes to 4.12%.

TheGameguru wrote:

I can buy into home users and enterprises flocking to OS X.. flocking to Linux? not so much.

Lots of them walking around with Linux in their pocket as Android phones.

All OS X is is a pretty UI on top of BSD. It's not so hard to imagine someone doing the same thing on top of Linux eventually. That's exactly what Canonical is trying to do in throwing all the existing Linux GUIs aside and building Unity. Maybe, eventually, they get there. Especially if projects like Wayland swoop in there and replace the moldy old X stack.