It has been very successful to launch a Linux port. Both Mac and Linux clients have done well for us. It was beneficial for us to make them for HoN. We want everyone to be able to enjoy this awesome game. I am not sure of exact numbers but I know that they are good.
There is no way that a linux box will hit the shelf at the same time and have the same price as a windows box, assuming the publisher is making a maximum effort for the windows box. If this is truly a gating factor, linux boxed games just won't succeed. Loki wants to get away from making games "convertable" between platforms, to force linux players to buy the linux boxes. I have issues with this. Not making executable binaries available online sucks. I hate binary patches, and requiring either patches from different versions, or the installation of all previous patches. Just releasing a new executable is so much easier. Our options from here are to move towards a hybrid CD and pay Loki for official support (which makes linux support look like an expense, rather than a benefit), make a hybrid CD but leave the linux version in an "unsupported" directory, or just make unsupported linux executables available online like we used to.
It's pretty high on my priority list to have the Mac and Linux support [for Quake Live]. [Quake Live compatibility] is going to be a much bigger factor in [the Mac and Linux markets] for people wanting to play the game than it is on the Win32 market where you have so many more options.
The arrival of TransGaming to me is the clearest indication that Loki failed to jump-start a Linux gaming industry as we'd hoped, because TransGaming has nothing to do with Linux games. Their message to game developers is: "Use DirectX and develop for Windows. We'll help you sell your Windows products to Linux users." TransGaming's strategy is the same one Corel used in its Linux applications business. In the end I don't think they'll be any more successful than Corel was.
The idea with Loki was never to create a thriving Linux porting business. We wanted to create a Linux gaming industry. If you want a perfect example of the difference, just look at Mac gaming. There are many games available for the Mac put out by several great Mac porting companies. But no one develops new games for the Mac. As a result Mac gaming is always a second cousin to Windows gaming. Games come out after the Windows versions do. They look and feel like Windows games, not Mac games. And there's nothing you can play on a Mac that you can't also play on Windows. We saw porting as a transitional stage. By porting games we were able to develop the software infrastructure needed for gaming on Linux. We were also able to prove that a market for Linux games exists. The next step would have been to use what we had created to start making original games for Linux. That has always been our ultimate goal -- we wanted Linux to have its own unique, compelling games. Think how many people would be running Linux on their desktop if Diablo had come out for Linux six months before Windows!
The Linux game market is larger than the IDC figures would lead you to believe. The market segment in question is largely under served and people will most definitely buy worthy titles to play on it. It is not as difficult to support the so-called myriad of Linux versions out there as you think- there's ways to do it and I can show you some of them.
When you buy a Windows title, you did just that- bought for Windows. The studio and publisher just got your money and don't care one whit that you're running under WINE. You may well be one game patch away from not being able to run it as most of the studios and publishers have no qualms whatsoever in breaking you. EVE Online is an exception in that they've chosen to officially support us via that route. Many will remember the "fun" World of Warcraft players running under WINE had a while back. Once there was a bunch of flak, Blizzard changed their position on the whole affair- but until they got that pushback, they didn't care one whit. To them, you're supposed to be another Windows user, not a Linux user. Why would you want to enter into a relationship like that? Don't get me wrong on WINE. I use it. I think it's an amazing piece of software and I'm constantly impressed at what they DO manage to make work with it. It's just more than a bit less than optimal for getting things to start happening for us in gaming when you use it as an answer for Linux gaming, in my not so humble opinion on the subject. Until the accountants and upper management of the publishers like Eidos, 2K Games, and EA see that we're going to BUY a Linux version, we're not going to see it from companies like theirs for a while yet to come.
Video games are sexy. People need to be aware that GNU/Linux is more than just something to drive your webservers... A lot of people (myself included) feel that video games are a major factor in getting GNU/Linux to the masses. I can't count the number of people that have said, "Thanks for porting [GAME X]! It was the only reason I kept a Windows partition around!"
I think [Wine] will be, at a minimum, incredibly useful to archeology, like DosBox has been for playing Wing Commander. Certainly it has been known to save the day with modern titles, too. But to have it as the agreed-upon way to how you play video games on Linux is completely unacceptable for several reasons, both technical and moral.
I do think the bundles are incredibly good marketing for Linux as a desktop system. I've had several companies reference it in conversation, the same way they might use the Unity Web Player stats when thinking about what Mac OS X versions to target, or Steam's hardware survey when deciding if they can rely on users having a powerful machine. The Bundle shows--consistently--that Linux gamers exist and they will pay money. It's a hugely important measurement.
Strong Linux sales will send a message to developers that there is money to be made on the Linux platform. It will also send a signal to the computer industry that there is a Linux desktop/game market that should not be ignored. I think this will also bring even more attention to the Linux desktop and make it more apparent as a viable replacement for Mac or Windows. One of the common complaints you hear from people is they think there is a lack of games available for Linux, or at least no good games, when clearly that is not the case. It should show more users that they clearly are not stuck with their only choices for gaming being Mac or Windows, and perhaps entice even more people to make that switch to Linux.
The pros and cons are the same as many people have said over the years. The cons being that it could make developers think that just because a game runs in WINE that there is no need to port it to Linux, even though it would run better if it were native to Linux. No matter how much we might wish and want, some games will never be ported to Linux for a whole host of different reasons. WINE at least allows Linux users the chance to play some of those games that will never be native to Linux.
We had planned for a re-release of the Mac & Linux versions of Penumbra as a Collection. We sent out a PR and made some noise during the week to make sure it was known the Collection would sell for USD 5 during the weekend. We also came in contact with Helios - the Linux blogger with a big heart for many things. He wanted to do a write-up on the Linux version and got all excited about making it fit with the weekend deal and, oh my, did he make it fit! Due to the blog, the Slashdot article about the blog, Linux and Mac sites posting of the PR we ended up with an excellent weekend of chaos. Because of this we are now as good as set to focus completely on making the next game, which is great compared to spending most of the day working on survival solutions.
I have a strongly held opinion about Transgaming and WineX. I feel that Transgaming is a company made up of good people with good intentions, but I believe that they are wrong. I feel that emulation will do far more harm than good in the long term for Linux. In the short-term it is a win; in the long term, I believe emulation is sacrificing the future for the present. Linux can stand on its own two feet. It is solid and strong, and does not need to cling to the leftovers of Windows.
If they come to us, we do all of the work and take all of the risk. They have no financial exposure. Making the client themselves is always risky. However you cannot look at it in terms of money only. When a game is ported to a second platform, it almost always exposes bugs and problems that would otherwise have been missed, as the developers have to re-work portions of the game. This will mean that creating a Linux version will increase the stability of the Windows version, and increase the quality of their core product, a fact that in itself may justify the cost of a Linux port.
Having a Linux build meant coverage on Slashdot. This of course generated huge interest in not just the Linux version of Lugaru, but the Windows and Mac versions too. Lugaru also made an appearance in a few Linux magazines. A lot of people heard about and supported Lugaru simply because we had a Linux build.
Contributions from Mac and Linux users doubled our revenue for the Humble Indie Bundle, Mac and Linux gamers are historically underserved by game developers, so they really appreciate the extra effort, and help you back disproportionately... It is sad that being Windows-exclusive is the norm and it's actually newsworthy when a developer supports another platform.
Things like a spreadsheet and graphics package mean that people can use their computer for working. Games mean that people can ENJOY their computer. If all you have is productivity apps, then Linux will be a fine OS for work, but who is going to really want it around in the home if all they can do on it is work.
I did this 'cause Linux gives me a woody. It doesn't generate revenue. Please don't call or write us with bug reports. They cost us money, and I get sorta ragged on for wasting my time on UNIX ports anyway.