I have a friend who is both a Linux user and a console gamer. He owns an XBox 360, if it matters, and sees no conflict of interest in owning a proprietary machine driven by Microsoft and using his computer with only free software. And neither do I really; if you want to eat toast, you buy a toaster. If you want to play games, you buy a console.
The interesting point though, is that my friend is more excited about Linux games these days than about PC games. The PC game bracket is dying, he said, partly because it costs too much to keep up with hardware changes. Consoles level the field, while PC owners are constantly pressed to upgrade and spend, which makes it more and more unattractive.
Personally I have almost no opinion on the issue, mostly because I don’t own a console and because I am not an avid gamer. This is the game I spend most of my time with, and it’s not available on any console system that I know of. Or maybe I should say, it’s available on just about every console system I know of.
But it does seem logical to me: For what I understand, console owners don’t have to spend ridiculous amounts of money on upgrades. That makes console gaming more attractive to some people, and they drift away from PCs. Which means the oblique demand to inject Windows-driven games into Linux systems via Wine becomes less important, and the focus can shift toward native Linux entertainment. Hence, my friend’s growing interest in what Linux gaming has to offer.
And that in turn seems to be compounded by a few recent events. That Humble Indie Bundle I mentioned only for a second on Mother’s Day went supernova (not through my attention, I mean ) and suddenly it is possible to make money with small-scale independent multi-platform games.
And at the same time, the Free Ryzom project that foundered three years ago suddenly roared back to life, and even just six short days after its liberation appears to be moving at full speed. Spend a few minutes in #ryzom and you’ll see what I mean.
I don’t know if my friend is necessarily representative of an emigrating PC gamer demographic. It might be that he’s just too enlightened and already tainted by Linux and therefore more aware of the potential — no, the actual availability and viability of Linux-based games these days. A little learning is a dangerous thing … even when it comes to games.