Sparking enthusiasm for Linux games

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. :mrgreen:

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. 😈

7 thoughts on “Sparking enthusiasm for Linux games

  1. Nobody Important

    Actually it was your older blogs on Neverwinter Nights that made me dig out my Diamond edition DVD and throw it onto my Ubuntu install. Ahh, good stuff. I have very few PC games (mostly NWN, plus a couple of Blizzard games and a copy of Enemy Territory quake Wars for Linux), but I’ll borrow a friend’s disc sometimes and play through anything that interests me.

    And rumors may have solidified into reality: Steam may be coming to Linux. The DRM may be a little bit fruity, but heck, with games as good as Portal they can slap me upside the head and I’d be okay. The Half-Life series in particular is incredibly good.

    I have an Xbox 360 that gets played very rarely; we use it more for DVD’s. I’m more of a PlayStation 2 guy. Only a decade old, yet dirt cheap and filled with inventive games to play.

    1. Nobody Important

      Oh, and also: I happily bought the Humble Indie pack for $15. Great games for a great cause.

  2. mulenmar

    I played Alien Arena for a while, until the kernel stopped playing nice with the FGLRX driver. (Arch Linux, you may have guessed — and correctly.) Good enough that I don’t have much interest in Xbox Live.

    I doubt I could play on Xbox Live anyway — I don’t have a 360, just two v1.6 Xboxes, both modded. 😦

    I should probably try again to get XLink working, come to think of it… :mrgreen:

  3. sirion

    What really bugs me about Linux games (and that is something that might have absolutely no influence on the success) is that I cannot hit Ctrl-Esc or Ctrl-Alt-Del or Alt-Tab (or whatever) to quickly change to the desktop and take a look at my IM/Newsticker/etc.

    I only start Windows for games, and I happily gave 30$ for the Humble Bundle. I sure hope Linux gaming will evolve.

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