Game publisher THQ ‘evaluating’ Linux

Clearly, Valve is pretty gung-ho about Linux as a gaming platform. It’s too early to tell if other developers and publishers are on board yet, but at least one of them is considering it. THQ President Jason Rubin posted this message on Twitter this weekend:

@CheshireTheyain Got the Linux message load and clear via #HumbleBundle feedback. Evaluating cost/benefit as we speak.

Rubin was responding to a user who asked, “can you guys consider doing some games for Linux? I know it seems a small market, but look at what Valve is doing.”

The folks at gaming site Polygon got Rubin to elaborate via e-mail. In his response, the THQ President noted that there are “vibrant communities” of gamers running less-popular operating systems like Linux, and THQ “should not overlook them.” He went on to say:

“Complicating the analysis (in a positive way), gamers have tweeted inventive ideas to me, such as letting the community help in the porting to bring down costs . . . THQ is committed to look at anything that makes sense.”

Rubin apparently ended his e-mail on a positive note, saying he believes THQ will have more details to announce “shortly.”

Turning Linux into a mainstream gaming platform could be an uphill battle for Valve and any companies that join the effort. Clearly, though, the Linux community is doing its part to bring more publishers into the fold. It’ll definitely be interesting to see what THQ winds up deciding—and whether other major game companies follow in its footsteps. (Thanks to GamesIndustry.biz for the links.)

Comments closed
    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 7 years ago

    And THQ is now in chapter 11.

    Guess it’s easy to say you’ll look into something when the company is being sold the next day.

    [url<]http://www.joystiq.com/2012/12/19/thq-bankruptcy-sale/[/url<]

      • Stranger
      • 7 years ago

      ANAL chapter 11 is just a reorganization not a liquidation. Theoretically what will happen is that the owners of the debt will realize that THQ is a unable to pay the full amount of the debt and will end up taking a “hit” or a reduction in the amount they are owned to insure that the company is able to pay what ever remain debt there is.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        Part of the deal is that a 3rd party is buying most of THQ.

    • odizzido
    • 7 years ago

    Games are the only thing keeping me on windows. If linux gets some good gaming going I would probably switch over next time I update my OS.

    • Geistbar
    • 7 years ago

    If they can be convinced that the potential for revenue is there, I could see them designing future games from the ground up to be easy enough to port. Porting already made games would be significantly more difficult, but if you design something from the start for multiple systems you can choose the proper libraries and engines to make it (while still non-trivial) easier. The biggest obstacle to a company in my mind would be support — there’s a lot of distros, and even drivers can be a bit fragmented.

      • just brew it!
      • 7 years ago

      This is why it is necessary to standardize on one distro (or at least a small family of related distros) as the officially supported one. Valve went with Ubuntu; this means Steam will [u<]probably[/u<] also work with recent versions of Debian and Mint, but I'm betting you're on your own in terms of support.

        • Geistbar
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah, I should have been more clear — I also meant to note that even only covering one distro, you’re still adding a lot more hardware/software combinations that you need added to your support and testing setup. Only focusing on a handful (at most) of major distros to support is probably the only way for them to start this.

      • Silus
      • 7 years ago

      Can you explain how is there “potential for revenue” in such a small market ? We are talking about companies that can disappear if any of this goes wrong. They don’t need to be convinced…they have to be sure that there is money to be made and the fact is, there isn’t. Go see what id Software has to say about it. They’ve been doing it forever…and it’s not been good…Carmack is the guy that pushes for it, because he also believes in the open source motto and has the resources to do it…eventually. This is not the case for most people/companies.

      The only possible way that this can be done (at least as a proof of concept so that developers see if there’s money to be made or not) is if Valve itself funds all the ports of games to linux. They should put their money where their mouth is and actually do something to push this forward with other games, other than their own. This of course, is not going to happen, because that would need many, many millions of dollars of investment and Steam is doing great, but not that great…

        • Geistbar
        • 7 years ago

        The potential for revenue is shown through the Humble Bundle. I had read that Linux users tends to contribute about 10-20% of the total amount of revenue. Many games funded through Kickstarter have also had from the get-go or been able to be convinced to provide Linux support. Additionally, if they see Valve’s entry into Linux as being likely to be successful, then they’d be one of the first players in a new market — which can work out quite well (see: Birds, Angry).

        Do I [i<]know[/i<] that there is revenue there? No. I think that there is enough information around that THQ could be convinced that they could make money there, and going multiplatform isn't insurmountable when you design your games from the ground up for that system: how many games are made for Windows, Xbox360, and PS3 these days? They use tools that are compatible across those systems -- adding Linux in with Windows seems rather plausible [i<]if[/i<] they can find the right engines and libraries. Going back to my earlier mention of Kickstarter, do you think that developers hoping to raise $100,000 to make a game would offer to provide Linux support if it was such an impossible and expensive task, when they have yet to pick the technologies being used to make their game (and thus could pick some -- e.g. Unity for an engine -- that have or will have Linux support)?

          • Silus
          • 7 years ago

          Can you tell me how many AAA titles have been funded by Kickstarter ? How many have generated the same amount of money than those for consoles and a Windows PC ?
          We are clearly talking about different things…you’re talking about $100000, I’m talking about millions in R&D for games like Crysis, Skyrim and many other highly popular games. Sometimes even those fail and don’t recoup their investment in the current ecosystem, much less in another system for which the market is extremely small.

          I’ve mentioned it in other posts, but this will certainly pick up some Steam (pun intended) for smaller and “cheaper” titles, which may serve as testing grounds for the companies that are not sure of the profitability. But this will happen ONLY with those with actual resources to spare to try these things. Those that don’t have resources won’t try it at all…they may resort to things like Kickstarter as you suggested, but the profitability guarantee is not there. You may argue that “it can’t be there without trying” and I answer “Sure, but why risk when the other proven and profitable platforms are alive and well ?”

          I also mentioned in other posts a very important point, which is the “source” of this push – Valve. They really need to put money where their mouth is. They want other developers to follow them into linux ? Then fund all the porting processes. Valve is one of the very few that doesn’t live just off of game development. In fact their most profitable business is Steam, not game development, yet they want other companies to make risky moves into an extremely small and unprofitable market (ask id about it) ? If Vavle is really committed to this, then they should pay for the initial push and if it’s successful then more companies would follow, but I doubt any of that will happen.

            • Geistbar
            • 7 years ago

            You’re consistently ignoring my points about designing the game from the ground up for Linux support. If they do that, the design costs are significantly reduced. The big costs for AAA games are not coding costs: it’s voice acting, it’s texture artists, it’s animators, it’s QA. Only one (QA) of those major costs goes up if you support an extra OS. Coding will go up as well, but that isn’t the major cost driver in the first place.

            Maybe it’d cost them $50,000 to add support for Linux — at AAA prices, they’d need to shift just 1,000 units to recoup the cost. Is that what would cost? I don’t know — you don’t know either. The only thing that Linux support risks is not recouping the porting and support costs — adding Linux isn’t going to make users of other systems less likely to buy a game, so the whole development cost of the game isn’t at risk when considering it.

            All I’ve said so far is:
            (1) Games designed from the ground up with Linux support will not be substantially more costly to make — it won’t be trivial, but it won’t be an enormous obstacle either. This excludes already made games essentially by definition.

            (2) As a result of (1), if THQ (or anyone else) can be convinced that they could potentially make a sufficient number of sales (perhaps on the order of half a million dollars or more?), then it isn’t actually that amazingly unexpected to think that they would consider doing so for future releases.
            — (2a) We have some reason to believe that Linux users, contrary to prior claims, are willing to put their money where their mouth is, via past Humble Bundles and Kickstarters. Is it [i<]enough[/i<] money? I don't know -- that's for THQ, Valve, EA, etc. to determine. Not some armchair CEOs who don't have access to any of the internal data that would be essential for making one of these decisions.

            • Silus
            • 7 years ago

            What ? CEOs that don’t have access to that kind of data ? Are you serious ? You seem to not know what a CEO does…and I can tell you that when finances are concerned, the CEO will be informed by his/her CFO and he/she will have the final approval….I’m baffled at how little people know about how companies work, yet they discuss subjects where they think companies should just spend money wherever they want…again, that’s not how it works and that’s the key of all this discussion. No company will spend money to get a product into such a small market that presents so many doubts in profitability, unless they have more to spare…which is not the case of THQ.

            Anyway, I didn’t dismiss your points, but we are not talking about building games from the ground up for linux. We are talking about ports as is specifically stated by the THQ spokesman….

            “The big costs for AAA games are not coding costs: it’s voice acting, it’s texture artists, it’s animators, it’s QA. Only one (QA) of those major costs goes up if you support an extra OS. Coding will go up as well, but that isn’t the major cost driver in the first place.”

            Call it whatever you want, those ARE the major costs, because those are salaries of people in teams to create a certain game. That means salaries, extra hours, electricity, equipment (computers, office desks), tools, whatever that is needed and part of the budget for that project during the determined amount of years they are going to work on it (milestone to keep, otherwise the budget will not be enough). That’s MILLIONS of dollars.

            I’ll give you a simple exercise for a small team of 20 people: programmers, designers, animators, etc. Each earns an avergae of let’s say $2000 per month (I’m using low values just for the sake of the example) and not even counting extra hours, which by law mean an extra X dollars per hour. So $2000 a month for let’s say a minimum of 3 years (usual for AAA titles) just in salaries. That’s more than 1.4 MILLION dollars JUST in salaries, without counting with the required licenses, tools, voice actors and whatnot. And in regards to licenses you would be surprised how expensive they can get which increases the OPEX ALOT!

            And again, this example was made with a small team of 20 people…AAA titles can get almost 100 people working on the same project. They would need more people to work on another port for linux and that means a higher budget whether you like it or not. Many companies simply cannot afford this and that’s all I’m saying, since as it is some of them are already in a hard spot.

            • Geistbar
            • 7 years ago

            Let’s look at this piece by piece:
            [quote<]What ? CEOs that don't have access to that kind of data ? Are you serious ? You seem to not know what a CEO does.[/quote<] I said "armchair CEO" aka you (and me, and everyone else commenting here). It is derived from the phrase [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armchair_revolutionary<]armchair revolutionary[/url<], though you might be more familiar with it being used as "armchair quarterback" -- it is used (negatively) to indicate someone that isn't actually doing the job in question, but sees themselves as fit to perform that duty, in spite of their inaction. I was specifically referencing the fact that we don't have all of the data, and THQ (hopefully) does: if they determine the costs are low enough and the potential rewards are high enough, what data do you have to say that they are wrong? [quote<]Anyway, I didn't dismiss your points, but we are not talking about building games from the ground up for linux. We are talking about ports as is specifically stated by the THQ spokesman.[/quote<] No, [i<]you[/i<] are talking about ports. The details of my starting post specifically excluded ports ("Porting already made games would be significantly more difficult [...]") and focused on games built from the ground up ("[...] if you design something from the start [...]"). You have chosen to argue that the costs of porting make my argument invalid, when instead it is completely unrelated: if I say "I think [x]", and you say "Wrong! [y] disproves [z]!" then you haven't actually made a useful, or even relevant, point. [quote<]And again, this example was made with a small team of 20 people...AAA titles can get almost 100 people working on the same project.[/quote<] Yet here, you seem to provide evidence that you aren't actually certain of what you are arguing. If they're porting already existing games (which is what you [i<]just said[/i<] you were talking about), then that game isn't going to have a full development team still working on it. The question is not what the original game costs to develop: that shouldn't factor in at any point in deciding whether to make a game also support Linux (or OSX, or Wii-U, or Android, or my toaster, or...). The only cost factors that should be considered are the costs to add support for Linux, compare them to the opportunity cost (what could be done with that money/talent otherwise?) and then compare both of those to the expected revenue. The game itself could cost $100,000 or $100,000,000 to develop, but if the support costs, opportunity costs, and resultant revenues were the same, then the decision would be the same in both cases.

            • Silus
            • 7 years ago

            “I said “armchair CEO” aka you (and me, and everyone else commenting here).”

            Ah sorry! I know the expression just didn’t factor it in when I replied! My bad 🙂

            My data comes from:

            1) It’s an extremely small market
            2) Companies like id have been porting their games to linux without much to be had in terms of profitability.
            3) THQ is not in a great position, nor are many other companies to take such risks just because Valve wants to show the finger to Microsoft.

            “You have chosen to argue that the costs of porting make my argument invalid, when instead it is completely unrelated: if I say “I think [x]”, and you say “Wrong! [y] disproves [z]!” then you haven’t actually made a useful, or even relevant, point.”

            No, I just said that I never talked about games built from the ground up, UNTIL my previous post where I specifically addressed that issue with an actual example of costs. And they’re not cheap! Adding more costs to the linux team (with uncertain profitability) just to port or from the ground up, to an already shaky financial position, is not exactly sound financial policy, but you’re right when you say that it’s THQ and all the other companies thinking about this, that will decide. That was never in question, since what we’re doing here is sharing opinions, not deciding for any of these companies.

            “Yet here, you seem to provide evidence that you aren’t actually certain of what you are arguing. ”

            Read above. I never talked about building games from the ground up, until my previous comment, where I addressed it with an example. Costs will go up either way – from the ground up or just porting – and some companies just will not be able to support it.

    • ashleyw2934x
    • 7 years ago
    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    Nix doesn’t make sense for gamers. When you put it completely into context, the users aren’t there nor is the software that most users want (especially gamers).

    I think nix is cool and everything, I just wouldn’t sink any money into it as a game developer with a shoe string budget. THQ doesn’t have a lot of money to throw around right now either, so they can’t exactly perform random experiments with their user base. Valve on the other hand has a huge budget and they’re a custom to doing random things that may not always make sense as their products are highly driven based on what their employees want to do. A lot like google, only with less structure.

    I’d be quite disheartened if THQ sunk money into this and then fell apart because the users aren’t there (they aren’t). Valve may lead the destruction of some companies because others trust them that much. Don’t do it THQ!

      • Silus
      • 7 years ago

      Pretty much! But don’t worry, they won’t…unless they get “suicidal” tendencies.

    • spigzone
    • 7 years ago

    Steambox is the only option that makes sense … probably with all AMD hardware related to whatever’s going into Xbox Next and PS4 with a custom AMD driver and Linux OS able to take advantage of the middleware and ecosystem what will grow around the next gen consoles. Be cheap for AMD as after the initial driver optimization Valve could do the game by game tweaks.

    Makes it all quite doable and manageable. Inexpensive to port to and a closed ecosystem makes it financially feasible for developers and publishers.

      • MrJP
      • 7 years ago

      Except Valve won’t achieve the margins on game sales required to properly subsidise the hardware sales. The console itself will therefore always appear over-priced against the mainstream competition from Sony and Microsoft, both of which have deep enough pockets to bury Valve in a price war if there’s even a glimmer of success.

      Valve have done a fantastic job with Steam and should be rightly applauded for largely unifying the PC gaming market. I understand their trepidation at facing a slanted playing field against the Windows 8 store, but getting into the console business will be a jump from the frying pan straight into the fire.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        Sony and deep pockets doesn’t make any sense.

        You know they’ve been losing money for years right?

          • just brew it!
          • 7 years ago

          They’re still a multi-billion-dollar multi-national corporation with a lot of resources at their disposal.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            While I agree with jps post, Sony really doesn’t have any cash, and the resources they do have are fewer by the day. However, the ps3 is one of the best parts of their business, and who knows, they might just make PlayStations, like Nintendo in a few years.

            • just brew it!
            • 7 years ago

            According to [url=http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bs?s=SNE&annual<]their balance sheet[/url<] they still had about $10 billion in cash as of this past spring.

            • sweatshopking
            • 7 years ago

            That’s true, but its not like its not needed. Idk if you see how they lost 10 billion in the past year. You think they can keep going for long at that rate?

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 7 years ago

            Ok, but they’re not going to drop the price of the PS3 to rock bottom to beat Valve when they were charging $600 for a PS3 going against Microsoft.

      • exmachina64
      • 7 years ago

      Read between the lines. THQ’s not going to release games for Mint.

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    I suspect a lot of companies are taking one look at the Microsoft Store small print and running for the hills, screaming.

    I know a couple of people in the gaming industry who work for small firms and they are completely terrified of what W8 will do to their PC sales model. I know some others that are less terrified, but that’s because they largely make console games, or in the case of Jagex have become platform-independent already and stick to browser-based stuff. Another studio is doing well with the Unity engine, since it’s a cross-platform game engine that ports to Android/iOS/PC web browsers with equal ease.

      • Zoomastigophora
      • 7 years ago

      I’m not sure why small developers would be worried. The Windows Store doesn’t change the ecosystem for them, it just expands their potential market.

      Large developers are similarly unaffected because the scale and production costs of AAA games means they have to be dealing with publishers anyway. If they could self-publish a AAA title, they’d be poised to make significantly more money via direct digital distribution than going through a publisher.

      Other digital distributors will be gaining a very large competitor that will automatically have its store-front installed on millions of users machines with little acquisition cost. They should rightly be crapping their pants and better start thinking of ways to increase the value of their store-fronts and in general be more competitive.

      The only people in the gaming industry the Windows Store affects are the large publishers that are investing in their own digital distribution platform, which at this point is just Valve and EA (I’m just assuming Ubisoft will eventually realize Uplay is going to be a waste of time and money). And like other digital distributors, the above applies to them. But then, that’s simply how market driven capitalism is supposed to work is it not?

      Honestly, I don’t know how Gabe Newell managed to create his own RDF, but he managed to irrationally turn gamers against the Windows Store just because he realized it would threaten the cash cow that is Steam. Valve doesn’t even make publicly available the distribution fee they collect for titles; at least with Microsoft, you know it’s 30% until you reach $25,000 in sales at which point it drops to 20%.

      Certainly, having to install multiple store-fronts to buy games at the lowest price is a hassle, but that just means that there’s a new market opportunity awaiting: the meta-store app that aggregates all my digital entitlements into a single library and interface to download from. After all, I’m fine with performing that actual purchase transaction from different stores, I just want everything served to me from one application and interface.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        I don’t see how the Windows store expands the market.

          • Chrispy_
          • 7 years ago

          It doesn’t, it just fragments it even further.

          :\

        • Washer
        • 7 years ago

        Windows Store doesn’t expand their potential market. More exposure to that market? Maybe… but I don’t think it does that it.

        Microsoft’s cut will be on top of the publisher’s cut. Publishers aid in distribution but their main role these days is funding projects. Developers, even the largest, rarely have the cash on hand to completely fund game development.

        It’s true that people have a lot of faith in Valve and Gabe Newell. But in my opinion they’ve earned it. No company in the last decade has done more to advance PC gaming. At times it seemed like they were the only company pushing PC gaming in to a better place. Besides continuing to improve DirectX what has Microsoft done for PC gaming? Nothing positive and certainly a lot of negative. It only makes sense PC gamers would lean towards Valve when it comes to PC gaming.

          • Zoomastigophora
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<]Microsoft's cut will be on top of the publisher's cut.[/quote<] Not quite sure what you mean by this; distribution costs are factored into the overall deal between publishers and developers. The advent of digital distribution hasn't changed the world of AAA development much at all. What it has done is opened up the market to smaller studios that don't need all the services provided by publishers and allowed them to cut out the middleman. [quote<]At times it seemed like they were the only company pushing PC gaming in to a better place. Besides continuing to improve DirectX what has Microsoft done for PC gaming? Nothing positive and certainly a lot of negative. It only makes sense PC gamers would lean towards Valve when it comes to PC gaming.[/quote<] That is some serious RDF. Aside from the inexplicable downplaying of the importance of DirectX (Microsoft doesn't just help come up with an API, they also deliver the runtimes, libraries, and supply various developer tools...), what has Valve done to benefit the realm of PC gaming? As far as I can tell, they've created a digital store-front that makes them a lot of money, which they shoved onto everyones' computers by requiring it for HL2...and that's it. Many of Steam's additional services and features all existed prior to being integrated into Steam. Did I miss something in the past decade of being a PC gamer where Valve palpably made the whole PC gaming industry better? Releasing the Source SDK to open it up for modding was nice, but at the same time, Microsoft created the XNA framework that lowered barrier of entry into game development for Windows and Xbox 360 (and later, WP7), and provided one of the first game development frameworks that was accessible to people outside of the industry and small development teams. Bastion is probably the best example of an XNA game to date. C# underpins much of the flexibility and power of Unity as Monoscript is really just their own framework built for C#. Microsoft regularly hosts and funds academic competitions for student developed games, serious games, and interesting applications of existing technologies. I'm not Microsoft fanboy, but I legitimately don't understand the fervent adoration people have for Valve. Don't get me wrong, I respect Valve as a company for their success and their work culture, but I haven't seen any instance where Valve single-handedly advanced PC gaming. Edit: Grammar!

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]Bastion is probably the best example of an XNA game to date.[/quote<] I totally loved how aiming didn't work 1/3 of the time on windows.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 7 years ago

        Multiple stores also means competition which apparently people are willing to die for in the hardware area but hate in the software distribution area.

    • End User
    • 7 years ago

    The *nix/OpenGL market is massive. Using *nix/OpenGL as the basis for a consumer computing/social/gaming platform is now mainstream. The PC market needs this. PC ≠ Windows.

      • sjl
      • 7 years ago

      OpenGL makes a lot of sense: every single platform out there uses it or a minor variant, except the Xbox (yes, that includes the PlayStation and Wii). Unix, on the other hand … I’m not so sure. The biggest market for games on Unix would be OS X; Linux is probably pretty marginal, and the BSDs? Forget it.

      That said, it could well be a case of “if you build it, they will come”. Valve’s act in bringing Steam, and their games, to Linux could well open the floodgates (and you could argue the case that OS X was part of the process, since it would have forced them to bring their OpenGL code up to scratch – a necessary first step for a Linux port, and making the marginal cost of Linux support relatively low.) I don’t think you can reasonably say that *nix/OpenGL is “massive”, though, not right now.

        • End User
        • 7 years ago

        Android/iOS are the *nix platforms that have pushed OpenGL into the hands of hundreds of millions of consumers. That is why *nix/OpenGL in the PC scene is the talk of the town.

        Why waste your time developing for DirectX/Windows 8 when you can develop for the emerging dominant tech.

          • sjl
          • 7 years ago

          Point, I’d forgotten about iOS and Android in making my comment. That said, I really can’t see a game like Human Revolutions (to pick the last major title that I bought and played through) working well on that sort of platform, and that’s the sort of game I had in mind with my comment.

          Ultimately, though, time will tell. All we’re really doing here is rabbiting on, it’s the gaming companies that will make that decision.

          • Silus
          • 7 years ago

          “Why waste your time developing for DirectX/Windows 8 when you can develop for the emerging dominant tech.”

          Such an easy answer…MONEY!

          You simply cannot compare the costs and profits of Android/iOS games with AAA titles on the PC/Xbox 360/PS3. They’re not even in the same ballpark.

            • End User
            • 7 years ago

            [quote<]You simply cannot compare the costs and profits of Android/iOS games with AAA titles on the PC/Xbox 360/PS3. They're not even in the same ballpark.[/quote<] You are missing the point. *nix+OpenGL is a proven combination for gaming. The myth that DirectX/Windows is the only option on the PC has got to go the way of the Dodo.

      • xolf
      • 7 years ago

      OpenGL is only the graphics side of things though; DirectX is a lot more than that, and from memory one of the particular weaknesses on the Linux side is an equivalent standard method of handling audio – am aware that there’s an OpenAL but don’t think it has the level of support/install out there?

        • End User
        • 7 years ago

        For audio iOS uses OpenAL and Android uses OpenSL ES.

        • just brew it!
        • 7 years ago

        Audio on Linux has been a mess since forever, with something like a half dozen competing audio stacks that each try to solve a slightly different set of problems. In the past few years the major distros finally seem to have standardized on the PulseAudio stack. PulseAudio leverages the more mature ALSA stack’s driver infrastructure (so hardware support for different soundcards is quite good), and emulates most of the other competing audio stacks (including ALSA itself, but not including JACK which is commonly used by pro and semi-pro audio applications).

        So where does OpenAL fit in? In a typical desktop installation it will run on top of PulseAudio. Ditching PulseAudio and running OpenAL on ALSA natively would likely result in better latency, but I don’t know whether the benefits would outweigh the hassle of having to muck with the stock audio configuration, or the potential breakage of other applications that expect PulseAudio (or one of the other APIs it emulates) to be there.

        OpenAL appears to be in the default Debian/Ubuntu repositories, so I’d say availability isn’t an issue. Being available does not automatically mean it is stable though… but with Valve pushing into the Linux space I imagine they will ensure that any stability issues in the Linux port of OpenAL get addressed.

        Clear as mud, eh? 😀

          • End User
          • 7 years ago

          Audio seems to be fine on two *nix based operating systems.

            • just brew it!
            • 7 years ago

            Ever tried to set up a system so that it can run both “mainstream” apps and apps that require JACK? In my experience it sort of works… most of the time.

            I admit this is a bit of a corner case; but it does demonstrate that audio on Linux — while it has made great strides in the past few years — is still not completely mature.

    • TurtlePerson2
    • 7 years ago

    This is a chicken-and-egg sort of situation. People like me use Windows mostly because it lets me play PC games. If there were PC games on Linux, then I would probably use that. But since PC games are not on Linux, PC gamers have a Windows machine at home, consequently they buy their games for PC. If Linux games were suddenly available, then Windows versions would still outsell them 100 to 1, but this would slowly change over time.

    I think Linux gaming is dead until Valve releases its console. The sales of the Linux Valve box is more-or-less a proven market of Linux gamers.

      • Silus
      • 7 years ago

      Even with the Valve console, it’s still a very small market, that only a few will be able to see benefits on (if any).
      You can’t forget that Valve is only doing this, because they want to sell more than just games on Steam (they are already doing it in fact) and with the Windows App Store, they feel their business will suffer.

        • Deanjo
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]Even with the Valve console, it's still a very small market, that only a few will be able to see benefits on (if any).[/quote<] Wrong, with a console the potential market becomes HUGE (aka every single console gamer). Console gamers really don't have a clue nor care what the OS underpinnings is.

    • setzer
    • 7 years ago

    Well, backporting games may or may not be cost-effective, mostly it isn’t if the game isn’t already OpenGL aware and coded with few windows dependencies.
    If you forward think your games and do the same that valve is doing that is creating a layer for the graphics api (DX/OGL) porting should be easy.
    In any case given that most games tend to use the same engines (Unreal, Source, IDx, Unity, Ogre) and some are already cross-platform it’s more a matter of wanting to have native clients than actually porting the stuff.

    • Silus
    • 7 years ago

    I can talk about their decision first hand: they won’t do it, since cost/benefit won’t be good at all. It’s not just a very small market, it’s also a market that would need several years to break “even” on the cost/benefit area, especially when talking about AAA titles. This market will only be good for Indie developers. Mainstream gaming will not follow suit. First you have Microsoft and their deep pockets to not let that happen and then you have the tools, that will also have to evolve much more in order to be on par with what developers get with the current lead platform to develop games for.

    Also the idea that the community could help with the porting is funny. I would like to understand how could they do that, without jeopardizing the product and their sales. They already invest buck loads of money in ludicrous DRM measures supposedly to stop piracy. I wonder how will that work, if they give the code to “community members” to help with the porting…Community members would need to be under contract and even that wouldn’t mean they couldn’t leak the code…

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]Community members would need to be under contract and even that wouldn't mean they couldn't leak the code...[/quote<] This has been done before and very successfully, take a look at the history of Falcon 4.0 and what leaked source code resulted in and how the communities modifications lead to a rerelease with the mods intact and many of those community members worked with them under NDA for the re-release.

        • Silus
        • 7 years ago

        Such a poor example. That happened simply because the company that started it was bought and re-bought to eventually see the development of that game come to a halt. Someone leaked the code after that and third parties did something with it and eventually a newly formed company picked up on that and released it. This was several years after the leak….

        I wouldn’t call that a success, much less with companies that really want to make a profit.

      • faramir
      • 7 years ago

      Once the engine the game(s) use is ported, they should be able to move the games across swiftly.Porting the game engine might seem difficult (as one has to deal with different subset of underlying APIs such as 3D graphics interface library or sound library for example etc.) but it’s been done before and apparently made sense for single titles so porting over an engine that runs series of titles would be even more cost-worthy. And no, I’m not referring to Linux only; Mac’s OS X doesn’t employ DirectX either so whatever effort is spent on porting to Linux or OS X, goes part of the way for the other platform as well.

        • Deanjo
        • 7 years ago

        Given that their next games are using the Unity 4 engine (which already has a linux port) that should make the port that much easier on future games.

      • just brew it!
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]Also the idea that the community could help with the porting is funny. I would like to understand how could they do that, without jeopardizing the product and their sales. They already invest buck loads of money in ludicrous DRM measures supposedly to stop piracy. I wonder how will that work, if they give the code to "community members" to help with the porting...Community members would need to be under contract and even that wouldn't mean they couldn't leak the code...[/quote<] One possible solution: Get the community to port the underlying game engine and keep all the game assets, NPC AI algorithms, etc. in-house. This also focuses the community efforts exactly where they would be most helpful: On dealing with idiosyncrasies that are specific to the Linux environment.

        • Silus
        • 7 years ago

        Improbable and almost impossible actually. Most companies license engines. They don’t own them. There would have to be another legal binding contract between the “community member” and the company that licenses the engine in order to assure that no leaks would be done for that engine’s code. This is especially important for companies that basically live off of the licensing of their engines.
        Either that or the company that licensed the engine would need to be responsible for what the community members does and if it backfires, that company will be fined big time.

        This is not a simple matter and I don’t think that if this goes forward, this will be the solution (to have community members help in the porting process). Companies will do that with their own resources. The problems is still cost/benefit and tools.

        • CampinCarl
        • 7 years ago

        I would like to tack on a possibility:

        Use Kickstarter to fund a, err, fund to PAY a large amount of developers from the community to port the engine. Use some of these funds to hire some in-house developers to do overhead checks, check code for easter eggs placed by the community that are in bad taste, etc..

        Obviously, this could also backfire. But it has potential.

      • Washer
      • 7 years ago

      Well for one… THQ probably won’t be around much longer unless there’s a shocking turn around. I think they’re the perfect developer/publisher to try out some “radical” ideas. They have the right mixture of talent, existing brands, and desperation to make such a move. I get the impression they see that too. The Humble Bundle they were part of shows that they’re at least open to new ideas.

      I also think you’re greatly overestimating the costs of porting existing games. Consider how adept developers have had to become with the majority of games being multiplatform.

      THQ has also taken advantage of Steam in the past and seems fine with doing so in the future. I think Valve porting Steam over and showing strong support for the platform gives other companies some confidence.

      I don’t expect EA or Activision to start porting games to Linux. But THQ? It’s possible.

        • Silus
        • 7 years ago

        If I’m overestimating, you’re underestimating. The multi-platform environment that you speak of is “ok” because of the existing tools. Tools that took years to develop. Tools backed up by large companies that sink lots of money in them. Linux ? Not so much. If you think that porting is easy, by all means, give it a go. I’m no game developer, but I have enough software development years under my belt to tell you it won’t be easy because of lacking tools. And even with good tools, you need to think about cost/benefit, which is what THQ mentioned and rightly so. That’s what matters…their bottom line.

        I don’t agree that THQ is the prefect developer/publisher to make risky moves. Being in a poor financial situation makes this the worst possible time to make risky moves…risky moves are done when you’re ok. You invest in something you don’t normally do, because you’re core business is solid. You may argue that if they don’t do something, then they’ll be finished…and that might be true (I don’t know the future), but risking it this way at this point in time, doesn’t make sense to me.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 7 years ago

          THQ is done unless they do something radical to make money. No risk = out of business, or at least bankruptcy

            • superjawes
            • 7 years ago

            And honestly, I don’t think this is as risky as it seems. THQ seems to be building points with fans in order to keep support up. They had a good humble bundle, they’ve done some good things with Saints Row development, and now they’re courting the idea of Linux support.

            Even if it takes an investment that doesn’t entirely pay off in Linux, they can win some brownie points that will go a long way.

            • Silus
            • 7 years ago

            You said it! Radical to make money. This move is just radical. No prospects of making much money out of it.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 7 years ago

            If you say so. Clearly THQ is going to try some unusual things to try to save itself.

            • MrJP
            • 7 years ago

            I think they’ve already done something radical with the Humble bundle. And I suspect this will work out well for them. They’ve gained a lot of goodwill in the eyes of the gaming community and more importantly exposed a lot of new people to some high quality games that perhaps didn’t get the market exposure they really deserved the first time around. If they can get their games currently under development to market sometime soon, I think they’ll enjoy much better sales than they would have done otherwise.

            Personally I don’t see how putting effort into Linux can possibly be justified for them at the moment, at least until Valve demonstrate whether there really is a significant market or not. These comments strike me more as an effort to keep the company name in the news.

          • Washer
          • 7 years ago

          Yeah… I don’t think you have a clue what would be involved in porting a game to Linux. I also think you’ll stick to any position you come up with… so… whatever. Keep making up pretend costs.

            • l33t-g4m3r
            • 7 years ago

            Exactly. Haters gonna hate. When other people decide to stray from the given path of windows, to the future path of linux, haters have to run around shaking their pom poms for windows because they associate with windows like some people associate with their sports team. Just imagine if everybody switched to linux tomorrow. This guy would be out in the streets rioting and burning cop cars. Nevermind that tribal mentality is stupid and doesn’t really benefit those who participate in it.

            • Silus
            • 7 years ago

            I couldn’t care less what you think. I go by my knowledge as a software developer for over 15 years, mostly on Unix based OSes and I do it for large companies. Companies that invest on something when the market is prime to make money out of it. And even then, that initiative can fail, because of competition or other problems.
            By calling costs “pretend costs”, you show that you either never worked for a company in your life or are simply plain ignorant in regards to profitability. It seems that “money” for you grows on trees or something and that investing in things that right now, will have very little to no profitability, is great “because the community will like it”, or “there’s so much goodwill” or something ridiculous like that…That might work for Indie developers that do stuff on their free time and try to get money out of donations. It’s quite different from a company that spends millions in R&D and expects to recoup that investment. Not that you know anything about that…so yeah “whatever” and we’ll talk again when these ports to linux actually starts happening, from companies that don’t have two distinct businesses like Valve (game development and Steam, which is actually the one that pays the bills at Valve)

            • Washer
            • 7 years ago

            Pretend refers to you. You basically screamed “tools” a few times for why porting a game to Linux would be cost prohibitive.

            Pretty hilarious post though, glad what I said didn’t bother you.

            • Silus
            • 7 years ago

            Not as hilarious as you ignoring tools as a major factor to develop/port for/to ANY platform.
            So how can something as hilarious as that bother me ? Of course it doesn’t…

            • just brew it!
            • 7 years ago

            I’m curious regarding which tools you think are going to be the big stumbling block.

            For editing, compiling, debugging, version control, etc. decent tools exist on the Linux side.

            For content creation, there’s nothing stopping the developers from using Windows (or even OS X!) if they feel the Linux-based tools are lacking. Unless the developers porting the game engine are incompetent the game assets will be stored in platform-independent formats, so it shouldn’t matter what platform the tools to create them run on.

          • just brew it!
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<]I don't agree that THQ is the prefect developer/publisher to make risky moves. Being in a poor financial situation makes this the worst possible time to make risky moves...risky moves are done when you're ok. You invest in something you don't normally do, because you're core business is solid. You may argue that if they don't do something, then they'll be finished...and that might be true (I don't know the future), but risking it this way at this point in time, doesn't make sense to me.[/quote<] Alternatively, if you've got nothing (or little) left to lose, you gamble on something risky and offer your developers a piece of the action.

            • Silus
            • 7 years ago

            Sure! As you can see from what you quoted me from, I don’ know the future, but THQ not being in great shape right now, just doesn’t seem the right time for such a risk. What they might gain from this will not allow them to keep making AAA titles that’s for sure. AAA titles cost a lot of money and take a lot of time to develop. That cannot be done without profitability in sight. You need to realize that who’s pushing this is Valve, a company that has two distinct businesses – game development and Steam – and Steam is the one that actually makes a lot of money for Valve…the one that pays the bills. Other companies don’t have that luxury and that’s why none of this will go forward in any meaningful way. Companies like id Software will probably keep making their games for Linux and OSX, maybe a few other companies with resources will also make a select (cheap) few games from their portfolio available for linux too, but that’s it. There’s not enough market for any of these companies to actual profit from it, even more so when they’re in a tough financial spot. And that’s why the “cost/benefit” comment from the THQ guy is the most important aspect of all this.

    • Ryhadar
    • 7 years ago

    Sorry if I come off as trolling — I swear. It’s just my opinion that I wanted to share — but, here we go:

    I have zero interest in Windows 8 as an operating system given the new start menu (of which the “95-7” style I use daily). If this is the direction that Windows is going, I am not going to waste my time getting acclimated to a new interface when I could be getting used to KDE, Gnome, unity, etc. instead.

    Given my career path (developer), I am invariably going to require more linux skills than I possess now as I use Windows 99.9% of the time during the year. So, I’ve decided to start bringing that percentage down a bit in the future.

    The fact that game developers are starting to take Linux semi-seriously is fantastic. It means that while I’m learning linux I can have some fun time with it too. I grew up on Windows with games and troubleshooting the problems that came with it. I make no mistakes about it: the reason I am so familiar with the Windows OS is due to figuring out why my games weren’t working.

    The fact that there are going to be quality games on the linux OS for me to troubleshoot is really going to help me learn it better.

    I’m excited to learn something new and I’m glad some game publishers are going to make that easier (and fun) for me. 🙂

      • DancinJack
      • 7 years ago

      Why is learning the W8 start menu “harder” than learning KDE,Gnome, Unity, Cinnamon, etc? That doesn’t quite make sense. Not to mention the fact you have to learn things about linux, not just it’s launcher/desktop.

      edit: I shouldn’t have said “harder.” But why is it a waste of time to learn the W8 start menu and not a waste of time to learn the multiple Linux desktop environments?

        • Ryhadar
        • 7 years ago

        I wouldn’t say that the new Windows 8 interface is harder but it does require getting used to it (and windows 7 does everything I need it to do). I personally am going to need more linux experience in the future, so now seems like the perfect time.

        Again, not trying to tell anyone that the Windows 8 interface objectively sucks. If it works for you, more power to you. I’m just used to Windows how it’s been for years and if I’m going to learn something new regardless I might as well make it have the most impact (e.g. learning linux’s ins and outs).

          • DancinJack
          • 7 years ago

          I understand what you’re saying. I don’t really like the W8 start screen, but it just seems like you’re looking for a reason not to use it. I guess if it helps, why not?

          • indeego
          • 7 years ago

          Jeez. You’d think people spend their lives on the start menu. Move freaking programs to your taskbar (which can now be two screen wide), like you should have done decades ago, make it collapsible, and get on with your life? This is really the only significant change in 8. This is why it’s only $30-$40 more, plus the 3 extra years in support.

          I you think about it the old start menu is also stupid. It gets in the way of whatever is on the screen. It is mashed together randomly and usually needed heavy changes for individual tastes.

          Man people love to b*tch!

          I have 8 and I rarely interact with ModernUI. My apps are all on taskbar and available much quicker via Shortcut keys anyway!

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 7 years ago

            Unity’s hud is superior to any Windows start menu in every way. I wish MS had copied it.

            • PenGun
            • 7 years ago

            You guys and your stupid window managers. What do Unity, Gnome, and KDE do for you? I have run fluxbox for many years because it stays out of the way and does what it’s told. It’s like you want to bring windows with you for some reason.

    • CampinCarl
    • 7 years ago

    I’m excited. THQ (well, Relic anyway) has made some of my favorite games (Company Of Heroes, Homeworld, Warhammer 40K: DoW, etc.). Having access to these would definitely move me towards Linux 24/7.

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