There’s a small, but interesting article titled Mainstream Games on the Linux Desktop from the folks at LinuxWorld where they talk with some game designers on why more games aren’t ported to Linux and what it would take to bring this to pass.
The answers are largely what you might expect: too small a market, Linux isn’t ready as a general desktop product, etcetera and changing things will largely take a more people using Linux and then letting the folks who make the games know about it both in writing and in dollars.
I’ve said before that the only reason I’m running Windows is because that’s where the games are. I’ve been dabbling with Linux on a spare machine here and there to try and get a feel for it, but as it’s not something I use every day it has been slow going and it’s clear to me that it’s still not ready as a general use OS by the average consumer.
Installing Linux has never been easier as I’ve managed to install various flavors of Red Hat and Mandrake Linux without any real clue of what I was doing, but adding new software in after it’s up and running is still a challenge. Using the various package managers makes downloading and installing easy enough, but applications that you’d expect to put an icon on the desktop menu don’t do so automatically in most cases. You have to add that in by hand and it took me a couple of hours one night to figure out how to do that. I still haven’t managed to figure out how to install new device drivers. Again, I’ve not devoted a lot of time to this either as I’m just dinking around with it, but I’m pretty techno-savvy and if I’m having trouble then the average Windows user is going to be completely lost and that will keep Linux as a niche player and thusly limit its appeal as a platform to develop games for.
Which is a shame as I’d love to be able to dump Windows and move to something else and if I weren’t a gamer I’d probably have already done so by now. The Mac’s OS X is a nice version of
Linux FreeBSD 5 that seems to address many of the issues found in Linux*, though I’m speculating mainly on what I’ve read about it as I’ve not actually used it, and I’d be interested in running that if it were available for the hardware I currently have as opposed to having to buy a whole new (and expensive) platform to run it on.
Given time there may come a day that Linux presents a viable enough alternative for general PC use that game developers will support it more readily and I look forward to that day, but until then I’ll be stuck using Windows and keeping Bill Gates rolling in dough.
* Thanks to Sonny for correcting my ignorance on what OS X is based on. FreeBSD is a variant of Unix, much like Linux is, but it’s incorrect to say they are the same thing.