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THQ, a major game publisher, is currently evaluating Linux operating system for its upcoming games. While the market of video games for Linux is relatively limited, game developers like id Software have been releasing titles for Linux for about a decade now. Valve Software, an influential game designer and the owner of Steam video game distribution service, is also considering Linux.

Jason Rubin‏, the president of THQ, said in a Twitter post recently that he “got the Linux message load and clear via #HumbleBundle feedback”. At present, THQ is evaluating costs and benefits Linux platform could provide the publisher. In general, not all games tend to become popular on Linux, given the fact that it is not a platform for consumers in general. Therefore, it is logical to expect THQ to cherry pick titles that make sense for Linux.

“The message I took away from a large number of tweets and comments around the THQ Humble Bundle sale is that there are vibrant communities of gamers using other operating systems besides the dominant ones, and a company like THQ should not overlook them,” Mr. Rubin said in a conversation with Polygon web-site.

 

It is necessary to remember that the vast majority of modern video games are designed for Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 game consoles and only then ported to Windows. Porting to Linux represents additional costs and challenges, primarily because the two OSes use different application programming interfaces. Games for Windows mostly use Microsoft DirectX and less often OpenGL API, whereas Mac OS and Linux generally rely on OpenGL.  

Obviously, THQ could port titles to OpenGL, OpenCL and other open APIs and avoid Microsoft Corp.’s DirectX, but that may not be the best solution as the consumer hardware and software is tailored for DirectX these days. A special DirectX-to-OpenGL layer could lower performance and reduce visual appeal of advanced games. Moreover, there are breakthrough titles, such as 4AGames’ Metro 2033: Last Light, which are designed to run on PCs and which take advantage of the leading-edge technologies, including those from DirectX. Those games will be hard to port to Mac OS and Linux as they are tailored to take maximum advantage of platforms they are run on.

  

Furthermore, the PC is no longer the primary gaming device in general, which makes things even more complicated. This naturally reduces THQ’s motivation to port to Linux as the latter represents only a small fraction of PCs. Moreover, users of Linux are even less inclined to buy games than Windows users, which clearly lowers commercial prospects of Linux ports.

According to Jason Rubin, Linux fans are even offering to help porting games to the platform. While this may reduce costs, THQ will unlikely let outsiders to work with the original code as it contains certain patented technologies.

Screenshots from the upcoming Metro 2033: Last Light title by 4AGames and THQ.

Tags: THQ, Linux, Windows, Valve, Valve Software

Discussion

Comments currently: 10
Discussion started: 12/19/12 07:51:11 PM
Latest comment: 12/23/12 02:50:18 PM
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[1-5]

1. 
Using a DirectX-to-OpenGL layer like what Valve uses would probably be the best idea right now.
1 0 [Posted by: andrebrait  | Date: 12/19/12 07:51:11 PM]
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Valve's game engine is both DirectX and openGL powered. So they don't need to use a layer like that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Source_%28game_engine%29

Also the use of a layer like that will increase the game requirements enough, if not a lot.
0 0 [Posted by: nitro912gr  | Date: 12/20/12 08:40:51 AM]
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2. 
With Valve going to Linux and Microsoft going to ARM o/s it looks like this may be the last chance for PC Gamers, and as such it will open up the games market to non propertry o/s units and I can forsee the day come when an agnostic o/s will work all games not just Wine on Linux but also xbox ps2,ps3,ps4 Intendo etc and all the older games from defunct Commodore systems etc. The high end graphic gamers will be left with no other option. Windows looks like it aiming down market with its Win8 OS as it works happily on old hardware. So the fall in high end PC viz i7's i5's and Amd FX days are numbered in games machines. This will impact on video card sales as well. So it looks like high end Linux units will be the go. With the latest linux distro's also able to run high end ARM chips.
0 0 [Posted by: tedstoy  | Date: 12/19/12 10:17:07 PM]
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3. 
"Moreover, users of Linux are even less inclined to buy games than Windows users"

Really? Is that why we always pay DOUBLE for the humble bundle?.

"the PC is no longer the primary gaming device in general"

Ok, even more reason to switch to Linux and move away from the Virus infect Windows OS, constant upgrades and who knows what kind of Back doors in their software (NSA KEY).
0 0 [Posted by: ronjames  | Date: 12/20/12 03:35:49 AM]
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4. 
Well if the games in the THQ bundle had been for linux too, not just windows with steam I would have bought it and probably have paid considerably more than the average they achieved.
0 0 [Posted by: Prosthetic_Head  | Date: 12/20/12 03:43:29 AM]
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Current humble bundle 7 is for linux (or mac or windows)
0 0 [Posted by: jlauro  | Date: 12/20/12 06:13:07 AM]
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Yes, just bought it
0 0 [Posted by: Prosthetic_Head  | Date: 12/20/12 03:19:28 PM]
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5. 
For the first time since I moved from OS/2 in 1995 to Windows, I'm considering Linux. Why? Windows 8.

It can be avoided, but if it's Microsoft's direction, and it could easily be with tablets and phones being their primary focus, it's not going to be avoidable forever.

I doubt I'm the only one that is so exasperated with this release they are considering a move to something better. Apple isn't it.

Also, OpenGL isn't great because there's not much written for it. If developers start using it instead of DirectX, naturally AMD, Intel and NVIDIA will do a much better job improving their drivers for this interface. With Apple constantly gaining market share, and Linux, creating software for OpenGL seems like a feasible solution for game developers.
0 0 [Posted by: TA152H  | Date: 12/20/12 09:03:57 PM]
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