Sunday, September 09, 2012

Linux gaming Steams ahead: Valve looking for tester for Steam for Linux

Linux gaming can be a contentious subject. For a long time, the question was what is Linux gaming. Hardcore gamers were defining it as something that was closer to their interests but their definition left out casual gamers. Games publishers agreed with the gamers definition.
But the meteoric rise of Angry Birds made the publishers rethink about the importance of casual gaming, where these games run and where Linux stands in the big picture. For the publishers, they saw a postage stamp-like revenue model in casual gaming, where the cost of the game is low but with a high number of purchases. This is compared to traditional mainstream games which costs significantly more but with fewer users. More importantly, popular mainstream games have a higher development cost than casual games, which means a lower profit margin per game.
For Valve, it was Windows 8. And the encroachment of what they see as the operating system on the domain of their business partner. Valve have made coy indications of making Steam available on Linux in the past but the rhetoric had gone up a notch in recent months.
Now Valve is taking the next step in making it's games available on Linux by asking for software testers. They would be the first major games company to take Linux seriously in a long time.  More details the jobs on SteamForLinux.
There are two other reason fueling this move. First, it is no secret that PC gaming is back on the rise because console platforms are old and due for a refresh in 2013. Second, the main reason most Linux users list for keeping a Windows partition is to play games. This seemingly creates a ready market or at least an opportunity for Steam and Valve to succeed on Linux by capitalizing on the better PC hardware platform and the interest in running mainstream games on Linux.
The damper on this was John Carmack's comments on gaming on Linux, specifically listing their previous two attempts to sell Linux games. There some valid points to be made about that statement.

While I agree that finding people who are willing to pay for a game on Linux in the past have been hard, I don't think this is the case anymore. This was probably due to the fact that in the past, Linux users were used to getting things for free. However, the Linux user community or user base has grown larger that even by simple statistical growth, there are a larger number of users willing to pay for games. And the culture of the current generation of users is more open to the concept of purchasing for games as they are used to doing so on Android and their console game platform. Remember, these users keep their Windows OS just for games.
With Steam on Linux, Valve is not only offering a way for Linux users to ditch Windows altogether, it also creates an opportunity for the Linux community to grow. Linux users will have one more substantial reason to offer to other people who have reservations about moving to Linux: the number of mainstream games available via Steam or the ability to keep playing their games. They can already access the Internet with the same tools they are using on Windows if they are Chrome and Firefox users. And do daily tasks with equivalent opens source software. So making the leap won't be as hard.
It would be easy to dismiss this effort as a strategic response to Microsoft encroaching on the business of their business partners / customers like what Dell is doing with Ubuntu. It is however, a demonstration to Microsoft by their partners that they do not feel beholden to Microsoft as they used to. In fact, they have probably realized that they are also contributing to Microsoft's dominance by keeping their products exclusive to Windows. Since Microsoft have clearly shown how much (or how little) they value that relationship with their recent Windows8-related moves, what is happening should not be too surprising.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Recently Popular