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John Carmack: Kudos To Valve, But Linux Is Still Not a Viable Gaming Market 635

dartttt writes "John Carmack recently presented a keynote at QuakeCon. He said Linux is still not a commercially viable gaming platform, and the two forays they have made into the Linux commercial market have not been successful. Valve's announcement about Steam for Linux changes things a bit, but it remains a tough sell."
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John Carmack: Kudos To Valve, But Linux Is Still Not a Viable Gaming Market

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  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @01:59PM (#40878677)

    I remember a time when people used to say DOS is the gaming platform of choice. Windows? Good enough for shitty-looking Reversi and Solitaire, but not much else.

    Then Windows became the gaming platform of choice. Sounds familiar?

    What I mean is, if Linux is to becomes a good gaming platform, someone has to get the ball rolling.

  • by dryriver ( 1010635 ) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @02:00PM (#40878689)
    Without a good selection of available games, many people won't switch from Windows to Linux. And if many people don't switch to Linux, game publishers will be loathe to port any major games to Linux. -------- Steam may change this. It may change it a LOT. Even if just a dozen or so AAA games get ported to Linux, it would be a positive start. ----- I would love to run Linux instead of Windows 7. I really would. But the lack of games and some other applications on Linux keeps me on Win 7. ----- Good luck to any Linux gaming pioneers. Carmageddon: Reincarnation will be ported to Linux, so that is one potentially major game title being ported to the tux.
  • Too late (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Zaphod-AVA ( 471116 ) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @02:12PM (#40878795)

    Now that Steam insists I must sign some of my rights away, it doesn't really matter what platform it runs on anymore.

  • by dingen ( 958134 ) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @02:23PM (#40878895)

    The big difference is that Windows actually was just capable of shitty-looking Reversi or Solitaire back in the day when DOS was still the primary PC gaming platform. DirectX changed that and it was only after the release of DirectX that gaming on Windows became viable.

    Linux however has had gaming capabilities for a long time, but still there's a huge lack of compelling titles. The reason why gaming on Linux isn't taking of is because of politics, not a technical reason like with DOS/Windows.

  • Re:After Rage (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oakgrove ( 845019 ) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @02:23PM (#40878897)

    I won't mean anything if the only games they bring over is L4D2 and Portal.

    That's pure strawman and you know it. There is no way that only those two games will be on Linux. Peruse steam and look at the games for Mac and that will give you at least an idea of what can be expected for Linux. Also bear in mind the relative ease of porting between OS X and Linux (kind of like porting between iOS and Android) and you instantly add a significant amount of people to your potential non-Windows user base which should have a nice additive effect and make even more games show up in the Mac/Linux column.

    Steam on Linux is 100% panic from Valve realizing that Steam is about to become irrelevant.

    I'm sure it started out that way but who fucking cares? It's happening so they might as well give it all they have and make it work. As a Linux user I benefit and will definitely buy games.

  • Re:Its Carmack! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by oakgrove ( 845019 ) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @06:30PM (#40880877)

    Other than a few things like the humble bundle the simple fact is FOSS is built around "free as in beer" as much as it is "free as in freedom" so there simply aren't enough users willing to buy to make it a market worth pursuing.

    Many users and advocates of FOSS software have accepted the fact that "free as in beer" will never translate into AAA titles being developed for your platform so I don't think Valve has this particular hurdle to overcome. As far as the minimum viable number of users I don't know what that is but I would assume that Valve has crunched those numbers and feel like it is indeed a market worth pursuing. Note that they have access to the Steam install statistics so they know exactly how many people are playing the games in Wine. Of course that will not directly translate to sales for the native Steam but it is a good guideline as to the size of the underserved Linux AAA title game market. There is also an argument to be made for "creating" a market. Newell seems to be very committed to this idea and it is already known that Valve are working with hardware vendors on drivers, they're optimizing their own very popular Source engine for Linux, and they are highly motivated through fear of the future for independent software distribution platforms on Windows their core market. If Valve can adequately address the historical difficulties of bringing proprietary software to Linux then I would expect the market to grow larger as a by-product of that.

    I mean you have at best estimates around 3% being actual desktop users (no you aren't allowed to count servers, routers, your CCC Droid phone, because lets face it those won't run the latest Quake engine games) and of those how many have bought software in the last 6 months? Frankly if that answer was 20% I'd be amazed, probably less than 10%. FOSS users are simply used to getting everything "free as in beer" and if you are trying to actually sell software that's just not a market you should target.

    Again, ask the typical Linux user if they believe AAA games will come to Linux for free and I doubt very many would say yes. As a Linux user and as a software developer, I am very pragmatic about the situation. I want a free platform that I can install and have a usable computer. I want drivers to run my hardware that do not necessarily have to be Free but if they are non-free then I should have a reasonable expectation that they will carry me for the life of the product. In the case of video drivers, nVidia is very good at supporting their products on Linux for their useful lifespan whereas AMD will drop support in a heartbeat. Ergo, if I want to game on Linux, I buy nVidia. Going beyond that, I prefer essential software to be Free as that is what makes the computer usable. But, and this is where the difference comes in, when it comes to non-essential throw-aways like games, I don't have any problem at all with them being non-free. I'm not into playing the same game after I've beaten it once so I don't care about recompiling it for future hardware or anything else. I understand that there are still Doom die-hards playing multi-player with that but I'm not in that camp. I think the success of Android amongs Linux users points to the pragmatic acceptance that some things just aren't Free. There is no remotely modern handset on the market with completely free hardware and while that isn't the greatest thing ever, it isn't something stopping Linux users from buying Android phones. I don't think Steam being non-Free will be a serious impediment either.

    In the end we all know Old Gabe at Valve isn't looking at Linux because he gives a rat's ass about Steam on the Linux desktop, okay? Ballmer dropped trou and waved his sweaty ass at Gabe by trying to cut Valve out of the market with the appstore and old Gabe don't get mad he gets even by trying to royally fuck MSFT in a market they've spent billions trying to capture, the home console market. Well if yo

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson