A game developer is stirring controversy for stating he’d totally skip Linux in future games.
Despite so many of today’s technologies being developed from Linux, including Google’s Android mobile operating system, the little penguin is still sort of the black sheep of gaming culture. Sure, you can game on Linux systems, but not without considerable effort, and certainly not the latest and greatest games.
A meme floating around social media shows the classic travel marker gag with game developers swerving around Linux for being “too niche”, but then developing games for mobile platforms such as Fire TV, Apple Watch, and NVIDIA Shield. It’s a tongue-in-cheek critique of game devs ignoring the free operating system in favor of corporate interests.
Which might be true, but according to one game dev, there’s a very good reason most developers skip Linux.
We shipped Planetary Annihilation on Win, Mac, and Linux. Linux uses we're a big vocal part of the Kickstarter and forums.— Ben Golus (@bgolus) January 1, 2019
In the end they accounted for <0.1% of sales but >20% of auto reported crashes and support tickets (most gfx driver related).
Would totally skip Linux. https://t.co/3m9ZZgElzB
Ben Golus, the graphics programmer and artist for the RTS classic Planetary Annihilation, offered his two cents in response to the meme. He said that while Linux users were a huge part of Planetary Annihilation's Kickstarter funding (which amassed $2,228,000 back in 2012), Golus and his co-workers would skip Linux compatibility as being just too much hassle for too little cash.
According to Golus, Linux sales accounted for less than 1/10th of a percent of overall sales, but more than 20% of all automatically generated crash reports and support tickets. Graphics drivers issues were mostly to blame, a product of most graphics card manufacturers focusing development on Windows-based driver support.
Golus concluded that anything Planetary Annihilation Inc. makes in the future will likely ignore Linux entirely.
The numbers on this issue definitely support Golus’ position. According to Gaming On Linux, Steam had just 231,000 daily active users on Linux as of April of 2018. Compare that to the 90 million daily Steam users, and that’s less than 0.026%.
However, there is hope for Linux gamers. Valve announced last year that they would improve Steam integration of Wine, a PC emulator for Linux, in order to play more current games.