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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”.
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.