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Re: Latest UTB Newsletter

On Thu, 13 Mar 2003, joe wrote:

>Like it or not, games and other multimedia are a huge driving
>force in the industry - who ever bought a faster computer with
>tons of ram and fast 3D video to type letters to aunt Mildred?

In what industry?

Definitely not in the Linux industry.  Games definitely exist in 
Linux.  Over time, the curve of games that exist for Linux will 
rise also.

That said however, Linux is far from being driven by gaming, and 
there are definitely not millions of gamer people rushing to fork 
out $x to Linux OS companies to be able to play games in Linux.

At some point in time, Linux gaming will catch on as more than a 
very small hobbiest fad that it is right now, but that will IMHO 
take at least a couple years.

While talking via email with a developer of a large video game
company (who shall remain nameless, so don't ask) recently, I was
told that out of all users out there, their game client was ran
on only 0.6% of all systems.  That impressed me, as I figured the 
numbers would be lower.  The game *server* however clocked in 
with 40% of all servers out there are running on Linux.  That was 
also very impressive.

For gaming in Linux to be viewed as viable by both the companies
producing the games, and the companies prodicing the operating 
system, there has to be a viable business model behind it.  That 
means that both the game company, as well as the OS vendor will 
see a significant amount of revenue for there efforts from trying 
to both create and persue the market of games on Linux.

There are definitely some game companies out there who are poking 
at Linux with a stick to see if it moves.  How much money they 
are returned for there efforts is anyone's guess, but I doubt 
they are even seeing a return on their engineering and time 
resources expended.  

I think many of these companies do so simply because they think
Linux is cool, and use it themselves internally for various
things, so they don't see it as a loss to port their game to
Linux.  Other games get ported to Linux via a third party who
wants to roll-the-dice and try to see if they can make money
doing so.  Some of them have failed (ie: Loki), while others are
still going at it.

I honestly hope these companies succeed with their games on 
Linux, as it just helps make Linux one step closer to being a 
mainstream desktop OS.

One thing is absolutely certain though, at least in my mind.  
For Linux to succeed in gamedom, the various work that needs to
be done from the OS, to the hardware drivers (ie: video,
controllers, etc.) to the game porting/writing has to be
something that will be profitable, or nobody is likely to do it.

On the OS side of things, the only real major things I can think 
of are video, sound, and input drivers.  The only companies that 
I see that stand to profit in Linux from ensuring Linux video, 
sound, and input drivers work well in video games, are IMHO the 
hardware companies producing the hardware and selling it.

With Linux being a free OS download, I don't see how any Linux OS 
vendor can realize any profit from trying to "sell" Linux for 
video game usage.  In the Red Hat case for example...  if a 
large number of games were available for Linux like they are for 
Windows..  would gamer people purchase a boxed set of 
"Red Hat Gamer Linux GS" at Walmart, and then purchase a 
subscription to "Red Hat Gamer Network"?  <grin>

Those are fabricated names of course, with a bit of humor 
intended, but in seriousness, where would the OS vendor make 
money from persuing a gaming market?  I just don't see the 
business model that would support that.

Here is how I personally envision "gaming" being a Linux reality, 
and by that, I mean widespread like it is in Windows.  It would 
require all of the hardware companies to have Linux drivers for 
their hardware before the hardware is released, and for them to 
support the hardware as well in Linux as they do in Windows, and 
to work along with the OS vendor(s) to ensure their drivers work 
well with the OS.  It will require the game vendors to produce 
games for Linux, and to get them on the store shelves of Walmart 
et al.   Or, it will require some kind of new online paradigm 
shift of some kind perhaps.

Either way, it might happen, but it wont be tomorrow.  I 
certainly hope that it does happen at some point though.  It'd 
give a lot of people no reason to use That Other OS(TM).  ;o)

Anyhow... enough of my rambling..

Take care,

Mike A. Harris     ftp://people.redhat.com/mharris
OS Systems Engineer - XFree86 maintainer - Red Hat

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