Linux Gamers are fewer than too few

Linux Gamers are fewer than too few

Reading the articles about Blizzard banning Linux users for using wine and not giving a refund made me think that the main problem once again, is the number of users using wine to play Diablo III. If the percentage was 15% for example, Blizzard would never ban them because they would love to keep them around buying more extra stuff when they release it.

This has been the case on many anti-linux-gaming situations and being a Linux gamer and an editor for some time now, I can give you more than enough examples to justify what I say, and I will.

A while ago, I remember a very unpleasant situation for Linux Heroes of Newerth players. It was time for the usual bug fix release of the week, but not for Linux users. Mac and Windows clients were updated normally, but Linux clients were left on the previous version, so they couldn’t even play each other as their installed version wouldn’t meet the main server’s version.

The official answer came three days after the initial updater “malfunction” and it was basically that S2 games developers had some problem patching the Linux version, and that Linux users could either wait for the next update that will hopefully come next week, or download the python binding and do it themselves. The thing that was really vexing was that S2 Games stated that Linux HoN clients are less than 1% so they don’t bother too much fixing any problems that may happen to/on/for this client.

Heroes of Newerth is a game that has payable content and before it was changed into giving free accounts, you had to pay to get one, and I know many Linux users including me who paid for an account back then.

The next “you are very few” example comes from the person who worked on the porting of the Harvest: Massive Encounter game to the Linux platform.

When the first Linux version of the game was released, there were some dependency problems that appeared to block it from working in almost any distribution except Ubuntu. I talked with the porter and he told me that there isn’t enough feedback, there isn’t any activity in the forums about the Linux version and that the Linux sales were less than 10 purchases at the time if I remember correctly. This situation was making the porting of a magnificent game like Harvest as difficult as it could be really.

Then you can take the latest Humble Indie Bundle example were Linux users paid an average of 12.5 USD while Mac users paid 10 USD and Windows users paid 8 USD. In the end of the day Linux users total was less than half of Mac users and I won’t even bother to compare it with the Windows users revenue. The result?

Some game developers like the developers of LIMBO didn’t even bother to port their game to the Linux platform and even after the Humble Bundle you won’t find any Linux version on their website.

Then there is Tome of Mephistopheles that every blog or website tried to promote and make people buy alphas for the development to continue and we just don’t see it happening.

Then you can see the situation of some great open-source free to download and play games that suffer from very few people in their multiplayer lobbies. MegaGlest and Xonotic are just two examples that come in my mind right now.

Both games are great, and if you think about it there are not many multiplayer games of the kind available for the Linux platform, and yet the net lobbies are almost completely empty.

Then you have the fantastic open-source and free Rigs of Rods that won’t even bother to build a Linux package for easy installation on even the most widely used distribution that is Ubuntu, nor to update their completely outdated “how to build from source” instructions. Is it their fault? There are just not enough Linux gamers who give a f*&^ about it, so there isn’t anyone to help them build packages or update the instructions.

Truth is that Linux users in general are very few in comparison to Mac and Windows users, and if you think that most Linux users are programmers, tech enthusiasts, hackers and crackers, you are left with a very small number of Linux users that have the time, the mind and the appetite for playing games. This is the reason that no companies really care about developing Linux versions of their games, and why Blizzard don’t even care if you hate them or not.

On this context we saw EA being persuaded by Canonical to do more for them and their software center – market, as Ubuntu was promising (to them and to their users and to themselves all at the same time) to bring normal people, or a small market of Linux gamers if you want to call it that way.

And to complete my thought and my statements I have to say something about the rest of the Linux distributions. You can find great distributions devoted to multimedia, servers, security, stability, cloud computing, even science, BUT there just isn’t a single distribution that is completely devoted into linux gaming, thus offering ALL of the available Linux games at their LATEST versions. Why? Because there are just not enough Linux gamers out there. 

  • Stephen

    Surely this is a Windows game being played on Linux though ? or am I missing the point ?

    Surely what the Linux community needs is a successful Linux driven tablet or similar that games are developed for that also run on standard Linux systems. 

  • Bill_Toulas

    Yes, the point (my point) is that it doesn’t matter if it is a Windows game or not. All that matters and all the source of frustration for the Linux gamers is their very little numbers. That is what I am trying to say looking through various prisms on this article. It all begins and ends on this fact

  • cppdeveloper

    Strictly speaking, Fedora Games Respin is about games:
    However I do not consider Fedora a quality distribution (others may disagree on this). I think there are other game-oriented distributions out there too.

    The way I see it, home linux users use linux mostly because they like the concept of free software (as defined by Free Software Foundation), and the flexibility it provides.

    Thus they use mostly free software games and applications.

  • tr3quart1sta

    there aren’t many linux gamers because there aren’t so many games (or the games aren’t supported) – there aren’t many games (or the support is limited) because there aren’t many gamers – infinite loop

  • Vincent Andrew Prayle

    It’s a chicken and egg type scenario – because most people assume games “don’t work” out of the box on Linux, then gamers won’t use Linux. Because companies think that gamers don’t use Linux, these companies won’t develop/port games for Linux. Personally, with the exception of the “time-waster” style games (Freecell, Minesweeper, Hearts etc), all my serious gaming is done via console. My PC doesn’t get a look in for games – and, yes, I’m aware that this means I miss out on some top games – even under Windows 7, my quad core, 4gb RAM PC has issues with games. IF the companies produced the games/ports that ensure smooth playing under Linux, then more people would play – and as a result, maybe more people would use Linux.

  • aiphee

    I thing that valve is not stupid. If there are so few linux gamers there must be linux-based game console comming from Valve. And when the console will be here, i thing we will dontt have to bother about few games, lot will come.

  • Jason

    Most Linux users are not games anyways. Once you are on Linux, there are so many things you can do, why would you want to play games? that’s all Windows is for, playing games and surfing the internet. About all it can do.

  • Kennon

    I love Linux, it is my day to day OS for work and home. I also love gaming and keep a windows partition just for gaming. I tried doing some native linux gaming years ago with WoW and various other games that would run in Wine. I loved the native Castle Wolf:Enemy Territory. But I eventually got so short on time that when I had time to game I needed it to just work without doing a bunch of hacking…

    I am pretty sure this is all going to become a moot point once game streaming matures a little. In ~5 years most games will run from a linux server in some datacenter somewhere to your desktop, and the desktop client will probably just be a beefed up browser window which won’t care what your local OS is. We shall see.

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  • Bill_Toulas

    I am well aware of gaming distributions and that is why I used caps to emphasize the words ALL and LATEST in my post. The problem with Fedora Games Respin for example is that it offers neither ALL the games available for the Linux platform, nor their LATEST versions…
    For me this is not a real gaming distribution. It is just Fedora with some gaming packages pre-installed (the same packages you will find available for installation on a standard Fedora).

  • Bruno Martinez

    I think a native steam client and good video drivers would help a lot to change this. Having windows on my computer won’t make sense anymore…

  • None

    I’m pretty sure they were banned for cheating, so the opening paragraph made it hard to continue the article. I can’t stand that false information spreads so quickly. But after I finish this comment I may continue reading.

  • funnyperson1

    The bit about LIMBO not being ported to Linux is technically accurate, but misleading.  LIMBO was packaged for Linux using a Wine bundle officially supported by CodeWeavers.

    While this isn’t a true port, it was a Linux release that worked for a lot of people.  It may not be on their website but it is available in the Ubuntu Software Center and the Humble Bundle page.  In my opinion the Ubuntu Software Center is probably the best place for developers to reach a large portion of Linux Gamers.

  • Xxxyz
  • Jbabb1269

    Blizzard banning Linux users from playing diablo III seems like an unusual move for them.
    In the past they’ve been really good about creating thier games so they work well with
    Wine. Because you have to install DirectX and other MS components to get games
    working with Wine, I wonder if Blizzard is having issues with MS. Some of the other
    post I’ve read about this Blizzard talks about licencing agreements.

    One of the reasons that I think that Linux doesn’t have alot of big releases is that there
    is so many different distros and so many differences between them. Tech support for
    50 different Linux releases would be a nightmare.

    One thing that could level the field for linux is services like OnLive. With Onlive you run a
    player which plays games run from thier service. Unfortunately thier is no Linux client yet.
    You can get it to work with Wine but its extremly glitchy with crashes and poor controls.

    Linux users can also emulate just about any older game system and several older computers.
    This is controversial. There are intelectual priopery issues with emulation of old games and
    issues with emluation competing with new game developers further making Linux an unpopular
    platform for game development


  • 3vi1

    This article is a troll, and you’re a troll for writing it.  Ubuntu is projecting sales of 20 million PCs this year, not counting people that install it on their own.  That’s in addition to an even larger existing user base. 

    If you can’t make a profit selling to 50+ million users (not counting any other distro), then perhaps your game is garbage – or you didn’t properly promote it. Harvest?  WTF is that?  Wikipedia says “Harvest: Massive Encounter received a 5.5 out of 10 (mediocre) from IGN,”

    Of course those games have crappy sales/use statistics, we’re biding our time playing top-rated games via Wine (an putting up with the occasional problems/hiccups that entails) until the real good games have native Linux versions.  This is completely backed up by the disproportionately large number of sales you see in the Humble Bundle, which doesn’t fit at all with the myth that Linux is 1% of the market.

  • Bill_Toulas

    You should first try things yourself and then have an opinion about them. Try playing Harvest yourself and then call it mediocre. Also, I think HoN is the best dota-like game out there so…whatever!
    My article is not based on the Blizzard news. This was just another excuse to write this article, but it seems that you either didn’t read the whole article, or you didn’t understand what you read. 

  • rustybroomhandle

    Blizzard did not ban people because they were using Linux, but because they were cheating. I know this not because Blizzard says so, but because a lot of Linux people have been reporting that they are still playing D3 just fine.

  • Bill_Toulas

    It doesn’t really matter as the point of the article is something else. Blizzard case was just another example. If it isn’t true after all, it doesn’t affect the point of the article

  • tangram

    Well I play Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory online in both Linux and FreeBSD ;)

    I should say that every 3 hours of play I come across another Linux player. Probably in those 3 hours I come across 40 Windows players. That amounts to ~2.5%…

  • Dextrus2000

    I cry when I read articles from plonkers who think they know everything, like your article states the reason that there are no gamer’s or games for Linux, Two Links have been left by Xxxyz, here is another two Do your research Plonker before coming out with untrue statements,

    CommodoreOS Vision 64 This is a mind blowing experience. Not only for games released July 3rd 2012 Two DVD iso at 4 gig each 

  • morgan cox

    The fact is if you have a non gnome3 based desktop (and unity) and a nvidia card the same game on Linux is usually faster than on Windows7 on the same box – so by not using Linux gamers are not using their machines as effectively as they could be …I am referring to games that exist for both formats.

    Also Valve seem to think there is a future for Linux gaming

    Who knows if they do this and people realise that they may get a few more fps on their machines it might convince more people to run Linux.

  • Bill_Toulas

    Like I said in the article, and in a previous comment that you didn’t bother to read probably, both of the distributions you mention are not offering ALL of the available for the Linux platform games, and these games that they do offer are not in their LATEST versions. I said it very clearly in the article…
    There is not a gaming distribution that will offer ALL and LATEST. This would be the only true gaming distro. Ultimate edition for gamers is just a respin of the standard edition with pre-installed game packages – the same that can be found and installed at a standard Ultimate Edition. 

  • Gary Del Valle

    There is a distro that is for gaming, it doesn’t have ALL the games but it has probably a great majority of them and they are up to date. I haven’t used it in some time because I game on Windows. (Yes I use Linux for everything else.)

  • 3vi1

    Re:”Try playing Harvest yourself and then call it mediocre. ” – Why would I buy it to try it, when it looks like 2D ass?  There are free Linux games that look very similar, and no one plays those either.

    Re:” I think HoN is the best dota-like game out there so…whatever!” – There’s the problem with using that game as a yardstick:  It appeals to people that played DotA and honed their skills there.  Hint:  That’s not the Linux players that got thrown into the beta (where there weren’t even instructions available) and overwhelmingly ended up with a bad taste for it.

    Re:”My article is not based on the Blizzard news…” I fully understood what I read, but you were begging the question as to what the Linux percentage of D3 players were.  I.E.  You put forward that it was minuscule and claimed that this somehow directed Blizzards actions.  The rest of the article is just fluff trying to justify your assumptions.  Perhaps you didn’t understand what you wrote.

  • Bill_Toulas

    You seem to be the one who didn’t understand what I wrote, although I really tried to make my point really simply.
    About Harvest: You don’t need to buy it to try it as it offers a free demo. Also, do you imply that if a game is 2D it means it sucks? Because that is what you are saying, and what you are saying is stupidAbout HoN: Did a wonderful dota clone with great 3D graphics and enhanced gameplay leave a bad taste to you? Again: whatever…

    About Blizzard: This is what proves that you didn’t understand my article. I didn’t say that the number of the Linux gamers somehow directed Blizzards actions. I said that the outcome would be different. If there was the same problem, the actions would be different. I said that the number play a determinant, not the case itself.
    The rest of the article is not fluff. It is examining the claimed “too few gamers” through various different prisms that come from different cases and games. How is that a fluff? I used other commercial games, open source games, free games, everything that would show something about what I wanted to determine. 

  • FrankR
  • 3vi1

    “About Harvest: You don’t need to buy it to try it as it offers a free demo.” – Do you commonly install every demo for every unappealing game, or do you have some personal relation with the Harvest developers that you feel the need to keep advertising for them?  I didn’t say it sucked because it was 2D, I said it was unappealing 2D.  Maybe it’ll look better when they finish it – after all, all the screenshots on their site say ‘Beta’ on them… and look it.

    “HoN: Did a wonderful dota clone…” – Yeah, clone – targeted mostly at a base that already played DotA on Windows; not a AAA game with mass appeal.  I must say, at least it looks beautiful.  At least this one was good enough to get me to install/uninstall it.

    “I didn’t say that the number of the Linux gamers somehow directed Blizzards actions. I said that the outcome would be different. If there was the same problem, the actions would be different.” –  Now, I’m not even sure you understand the word ‘directed’ in that context.

  • Shark0360

    ….And the more Linux users who aren’t willing to buy/and or play games is only going to make things worse.

    Until the Linux community starts backing and encouraging  the development of games, this is the kind of response we are going to get from gaming developers.

    I’m not saying that games are the “make all and end all” of a good operating system, but it does have a rippling effect on the advancement of GPU technology. In other words, NVidia and AMD/ATI would be more willing to port there latest technologies to their video drivers.

    ” All work and no play makes a Linux distro a dull os….”

  • Joeman1


    Gnome and Unity interface cause so much lag for gaming, its not even worth it to play games. KDE, OTOH, disables full screen apps properly, so gaming under KDE is much smoother than even Windows (At least on my system (AMD X6, 8gigs ram, GeForce GTX 570 HD)). 

    Also, Valve is spearheading a great revolution in Linux gaming on the very heals of the PC market collapsing under its own weight and giving way to smaller, hand held devices – of which Microsoft will fall flat on their face because they have no presents in the mobile market AT ALL (HAHAHA!) 

    What is blizzard going to do when PCs are no more – port to consoles? Can you imagine playing WOW or D3 on a console?!?! REALLY?!?!

    Their only hope will be Linux in future! Just stay tuned :)


  • shanefagan

     As a dude who has helped the S2 games with their Linux and Mac ports for months now as a volunteer the problem that you are talking about was actually more a problem with their release system more than them not supporting Linux or keeping back an update. Id say the Linux port actually had more love over the past year than the Mac port which didn’t even have sound for 7 months.

    As for the Linux gamers situation I think the issue is more which comes first the chicken or the egg. Linux has lots of people that are the gaming type of people they are nerdy people between the ages of 16-30 for the most part in terms of users. A lot of them either use wine at the moment or like me dual boot windows. I think Linux actually has enough users that are interested in gaming now to warrant ports from huge game companies but we need the jump first from the companies and then we will get the players because a lot of them are waiting for Linux ports to switch full time.

    Its frustrating as a gamer and a Linux user at the moment. Fun fact im an Ubuntu member I worked at canonical, im Diamond league in SC2, 1700 mmr HoN player so I am the type of dude that they are targeting with these top games like SC2 but I have to keep my windows install alive to get any sort of a good experience in playing because wine isn’t actually as good as playing natively on windows you don’t get the frames that are needed to micro well.

    I know for a fact I would enjoy myself a lot more if SC2 was on Linux because I find Ubuntu a lot more convenient for Music and for chat..etc so it just feels better to use in general. Im just frustrated that this hasn’t happened sooner but I know as soon as steam takes off and if we can get blizzard on board we can do a lot better in general in terms of numbers but the problem is we need them to take that jump first.

  • Bill_Toulas

    Well thanks for reading and for the feedback. The “less than 1%” was coming from S2 Games mouth at the announcement, or at the forums. I remember it very clearly. It’s been some months since then and it is difficult to find it now, but I will try and give you the link. 

  • shanefagan

     I know higher ups in S2 that gave me a pretty nice idea of what the situation was in the Linux side of things. I think it might have fell off recently since the player base itself has shrunk but I wouldn’t trust most random numbers from S2 in general because they have some derpy internal practices. All I know is the Linux sales alone from the pre-FTP HoN sales definitely paid for the development costs of the port even if the client wasn’t as good as the Windows one. (their OpenGL code is sloppy and there are known bugs for 2 years now that are probably never going to get fixed)

  • Chrishas

     Actually it does, as it means you used something unsubstantiated to prove your own point, which in turn makes your article unreliable and an example of bad journalism. Even if it is just one example, it makes you wonder whether the rest of it is true.

  • Luya Tshimbalanga

     Disagree in regards of Gnome 3 slowing down hardware accelerated videogames. Attempting to disguise an argument with another pointless desktop environments war is stupid, counterproductive and does nothing to further advance the interest of some commercial vendors.

    My rigs (AMD X4 Phenom II 940, 8 GB RAM and Geforce GTX 460 v2) can play games fine in Gnome Shell with Nvidia drivers adapted by RPM Fusion.

    Hardware vendors are stuck with their political decision with company like Microsoft strong-arming them to heavily optimize their applications for Windows OS. Looking at the folder, I don’t see how hard publisher can be ported to Linux environment with a simple minimum requirement. If Opera can, why big companies refused to do so.

  • Ken Ash

     That’s because gnome and unity are so resource memory hungry! You can’t do anything else without running gobs of memory. I’m running 2 gigs of a 4 gig system just to run ubuntu.  Linux users have no choice but to play on windows machines or mac thus the difference in the so called percentages noted in this article. When will Canonical learn? Answer: Never.

  • Joeman1

    I was not trying to start a desktop war – just an observation from my point of view. Sorry if it seemed that way!

    Gnome 3 has gotten better, but still, not where KDE is as far as performance. This is not trying to start a war, this is simply my observations having used all three systems recently.

    Now, your view on performance might differ from mine – While I find the games I play on Gnome and Unity to be laggy and slow due to the interface design, on KDE, they are simply fluid and run without issue. I can alt tab out of a game to check on mail or view a web site… I try this in Gnome, and it corrupts the screen to a point where I have to reboot. Unity I don’t think supports alt-tabbing out of full screen windows (Never did work for me).

    So if Gnome works great for your gaming environment, GREAT! It does not for me.

    Gotta love choice!

  • linuxgamer

    We don’t need another distro for Gaming – there are already Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, Gentoo, Arch etc. – we need a standard for the masses, which just works. This forest of different distributions is a real problem for the game publishers. Just talk to Desura developers, ask Icculus or take a look in the the Linux games forums. Every single Linux user has he’s own problems – who should support it?

  • Sheldon

    I switched my family’s 5-6 computers to Linux in 2007 and another 12-15 family members as well since then.
    I always played games on PC but with the PS3 and Wii that came out at the time my kids started playing games too, like many of my friends, I moved to the gaming only platform.
    I still have a few computers that I have dualboot to play some Win games (I can use Virtuabox for some other programs but games isnt that good0 like Spore and Chessmaster but were moving away from the PC paradigm with only a recent tower and an old one while netbooks and laptops take more and more of our computing needs.

    Gaming for me and many of my colleagues and firends of my age is now done on gaming platforms only.

    Its not a Linux thing since its the only thing we run as OS and have hardware and the necessary Win to run them.

    Weve just moved on pas PC gaming.
    And if you go to your big box stores, you will see its the same thing with PC games being extinct. Heck, i coulldnt find one place to get a new wireless gamepad to play PES2011 soccer which is my fave of all sports games. No one carried them for PC plaftorm so I finally got it online.

    A subsection of a dying platform isnt exactly the promised land.

    With the money’ Ive saved on OS, anti-virus, Office and all the other  proprietary software over the past few years, I have no problems buying World of Goo for Linux because its nice to support people that do this or buying the PS4 or Wii-U when it comes out.

    Its a gaming platform choice NOT an OS choice.
    Ive got Linux on the desktop, laptop and netbook as well as phone… I dont NEED it for gaming at all costs.


  • stephen murcott

    I am a gamer, and a serious linux user of over 10 years- also very technically minded. I used to just play and buy games with real Linux binaries or open source games. I still play some of these and there are a few I play under wine. 

    I know that there is a great deal of truth in this article. I hope that in years to come Linux will be better supported but feel that the hardware vendors and companies who fear Linux are still making it hard for Linux to be a great gaming platform. This even before the fact that despite Wine and (is cedega still alive) and some other brilliant companies who have supported Linux gaming, the gaming industry is very limited and focused on the consoles and major markets. 

    It is just the way it goes I guess. At least there are still some brilliant open source games that I will never get bored with… 

  • Bill_Toulas

    And what is your opinion after you read the rest of it then? Is it untrue?

  • svartalf

    Article presumes a couple of things that really aren’t in evidence.

    You presume if you have a critical mass that they actually have numbers to back it up.

    You presume that if 15% of their user base were running in WINE, that they’d bother to support it.

    You presume that if there was 15% of their prospective userbase they’d help Linux use.

    You presume that since this isn’t the case, that we must be “too few” in numbers for them to care.

    Sorry…doesn’t work that way, sir.  They had a native client for WoW that never saw the light of day out of Blizzard’s offices.  They know that roughly 15% of their client base is in under WINE- but they didn’t really care if what they did broke any of us doing that- BECAUSE IT’S NOT A SUPPORTED USE OF THEIR PRODUCT. 

    Repeat that last part to yourself over and over again.  If they don’t think that they’re going to make a profit on this because of support costs or other costs, they’re NOT going to give a damn about the 15% at all.  To them, since their impression is that it’s a sink, 15% is not going to sway them.  Hell, 50% wouldn’t sway them under the impression they’re operating under right now.

  • Chad

    I think that those that run Linux as their main OS keep Windows around for gaming. It is a vicious cycle. They use Windows because there isn’t much, if any support for Linux. But there isn’t much support for Linux because few people are using Linux for gaming. 

    I would say that there a lot more people running Linux that play games, but they just aren’t using Linux to play the games. I know if I were a serious gamer I would keep Windows around to run the popular games.

    However to imply that Linux users don’t play games is not accurate. Linux gaming is better than it has ever been.

  • Darkseider

    Well how about Blizzard sucks and don’t buy from them.  I stopped buying Id and EPIC games since they stopped native Linux support.  Now just add Blizzard to the list.  I wonder how much of an impact it would have if all the folks running WoW under WINE stopped paying and playing?

  • Jeff Davis

    Wow… how much did you get paid to post this FUD!!!! 

  • Fay Brewer

    Having gamed a long time before transitioning to greater geek-hood I offer the opinion that most hard core gamers are so into their games that they wouldn’t want to take the time to make the games work under linux. They just want them to work and work with all much of the shiny graphics and sound as the machine will allow.   Maybe this is just my experience, however, since I got hooked into linux after I had gamed for a while.  Later, my goals were more along the lines of “can I get this to work with linux” and getting stuff to work was more fun than the game itself.  But what do I know? I’m a girl gamer/geek and according to so many gamers I can’t possibly exist

  • Ancalagon

    Not true. I run professional software on Windows such as Adobe Photoshop CS6, SnagIt, PowerDirector 10 Ultra, and RISA 3D. None of these softwares exist on Linux and the alternatives available on Linux aren’t as good as their Windows counterparts. I’m also using Windows as HTPC. Linux, on the other hand, is a joke when it comes to HTPC (Linux shot itself in the foot by not implementing HDCP support).

    Those two, in addition to games, are what makes Windows superior to Linux and there are significant portion of Windows users who don’t game, but use either professional software (Windows only) or HTPC or both.

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