Linux was 20% of issues, but 0.1% of sales


What exactly were you having to fiddle with all the time? I’ll admit I have it easy since all I really need is mutt, emacs, git, bash, ssh , gcc, binutils, rpmdevtools, and a web browser to do my work, but I’m curious what people are constantly running into issues with. I think the only issue I’ve run into in the past year was a new mbsync from a Fedora upgrade had to be configured differently to work around a problem in order to get my email from google.

i3wm is the bomb, I’ve been using it for 7 years now I think. :)


For the most part it was tweaking things to get games to run well in various scenarios, with a side of libraries that hadn’t been updated for the specific distro version I was using at the time (like trying to use Debian non-LTS in some cases).


Ah, yeah especially if you were playing around with a vm. I’ve pretty much always just kept a separate system with windows, or dual-boot to play games. Every once in a while I’ll play around with some games on linux, but it is a rare thing.


I’m too lazy for that, and my day job now is very windows centric development (though one day I hope to change that) so it just doesn’t make sense to deal with the extra complexity of dual booting or trying to live in Linux.


I thought it was only me who only ever got it under Wine. Regardless, it’s not usually profitable for games that already sell low numbers.
I was complaining about the incompetence comments because it was clearly from people who think having an API is good enough to do 3d graphics. It’s really not, (and Macs have a lot of their own issues too), drivers are worse and you have to deal with more versions, and it’s a lot harder to debug. Put simply, it’s a lot of work.

You’re right, you weren’t particularly obnoxious, but «But you do you.» was bad. And evangelizing the OS on a thread about a free program that doesn’t cater to you isn’t going to get anyone to listen, quite the opposite.


Oh, definitely. My day job is working on the kernel, so …


5% is just totally detached from reality. Has there been even a single developer reporting those kinds of sales numbers in say the last five years?

Something like the Paradox games should be the absolute best case for Linux sales. Their games launch on Linux on day 1 with good quality native ports, and with graphics engines that aren’t likely to tickle too many driver bugs. The result?


This is such a strange point to me. This is not the Linux kernel staff making a new distro every week. It’s enthusiasts who make them for fun or to suit their specific needs. This is mostly describing the spread of hobby development empowered by open source, not a statement about mismanaged resources that could have gone to making one uber-distro.


Yes, there are some major differences at the roots such as packaging systems, desktop environments, and window managers, but for the most part the great majority of those are just minor variations on the theme, and probably even in the sphere of linux have a negligible share of users. I think a place where resources have been wasted in the past (they might be better about it now, don’t know) would be for example Canonical coming up with something and trying to foist it on others, instead of working upstream first to get consensus. It has resulted in a number of their projects eventually dying.


Even when only considering english-language installs, linux accounts for less than 2% of Steam market share.

The actual figure is just over 0.8%, if one doesn’t engage in torturous mental feats to try wave away hard stats with made-up ones based on intangibles and hopes.

1.23million linux users on Steam as of December 2018.


And those enthusiasts would do something much more useful if they spent their time implementing the very same features they want in their own mini-distro into an already existing one. But then it wouldn’t be THEIR distro…
The reason for this is simple: Egoism.
This article really hits home:

Of course. Just a few examples: (though not specific, I think one can assume that 25% Mac/ 5% Linux is a fair assumption) (and that was 2010, when Linux was MUCH worse usage wise than it is today)

Most do report something in the 1-3% range, though.
I think one problem, maybe the major problem, is that there is only one release of any game. Games that have Linux support from the get-go tend to report a much higher percentage. Those that add support later on report much lower numbers.
The reason seems clear: A game is most hyped on release. Once that hype is over, a new port doesn’t really bring it back into the view. Steam doesn’t even report release on a new platform on a title you wishlist, for example.
So if you do a port, do it on release. Many developers don’t and then wonder why they don’t even reach 3% of sales…

Also, due to its niche status, Linux has its own gaming spheres and blogs. Titles that are not reported there might or might no go less noticed.
For example, quite a few games reported rather high Linux sales number after promoting a bit on sites like .

I wasn’t kidding before.
People make a business out of porting major titles such as Total War: Warhammer, Tomb Raider, etc. Others go “Linux first” (though of course not “Linux only”).
Do you honestly think that would happen if it wasn’t worthwhile? These people are surviving somehow.
A low % of many millions is still at least hundreds of thousands. And there are more than just “a few million” PC gamers.

There’s also the point that for many, the port is too much work for a small user base. Which is understandable. However, it is also a self-fulfilling prophecy. If everyone would only support Windows, Windows could get worse and worse, but everyone would be stuck with it (some say that is already the situation we’re in).
So, honestly, even if the user base was only 0.01%, it is better to support that than to hand out a free monopoly to a product as mediocre as Windows. Besides, Linux isn’t going anywhere, it already is the most wide-spread system - just not on user PCs.
All it needs is one truly great distribution, IMO. Oh, well…


Hm. Fair enough, though I would have been happier with specific numbers. But the platform breakdowns of that are really weird in all kinds of ways:

That looks like just the sales during a single Linux-themed Steam sale event, for a game that had been released on Windows and Mac a lot earlier? Also, that’s very far in the past. I thought a five year window was pretty generous.

YES! That was 2010. What possible relevance could it have to today’s ecosystem? You imply that it’s a conservative number since that there was much less Linux usage. I think that it would have been just one of a handful of games that a Linux user could pay money for at that point in time, so it was a captive market. It even predates the Humble Bundle-initiated rush to port indies to Linux.

I think one problem, maybe the major problem, is that there is only one release of any game. Games that have Linux support from the get-go tend to report a much higher percentage. Those that add support later on report much lower numbers.

That’s why I gave the Paradox number as an example. Again, those were major titles that launch on Linux on day one with good native ports, and still have less than 1% sales on Linux.

I never said it wasn’t worthwhile. I’m saying that the 5% number is an exceptional claim and requires exceptional evidence. I’ll buy 0.7% since that’s what the Steam Survey says. I don’t see how you get from there to 5% as a “realistic” estimate.

(Incidentally, one could have made exactly the same profitability argument in the year 2000. Why would Loki continue porting games if it wasn’t profitable. And then they went bust. Even though I did my part and bought their ports of Railroad Tycoon 2, Myth 2 and HOMM 3 at full price.)

Cool. So which commercial games of yours did you make Linux versions for?


Most times I try to use a Linux distro other than a live disk I end up wasting days fiddling with shit getting it to work and then giving up. In the distant past I spent a lot of time fiddling with Windows shit too, but most of that was pre-Windows XP, and many old timey skills such as command line are still useful on newer Windows’.


Have you heard of Vagrant, Gulp, Npm, Node, Babel, Webpack, Cordova, Adb,…?

Webdevelopers use a miriad of command line tools to mantain, upgrade, deploy, test… for every task you can imagine, theres probably 14 frameworks and command line tools.

The command line have *won*. So much this that Microsoft have added a Linux subsystem in Windows (withouth iNotify, for some reason. Please add file change notifications to this subsystem so tail -f works, please, thankx).


Barely. 2% of 5m (which only a handful of PC games achieve) is 100k


This is something only someone with zero skin in the game would (or could) suggest. Businesses want to make money, and sacrificing money to serve an extreme agenda like propping up an alternative OS is how you fail.


Yeah and clients pay us $185/hr to manage this shit because it’s a gigantic pain in the ass and it’s constantly breaking due to upgrades introducing compatibility issues and the general fragmentation of these dev tools.

This is not a consumer friendly technology. It’s a big enough bother to update drivers to play games on PC. I can’t imagine spending hours in an npm-like package hell to play a video game in what’s supposed to be my leisure time.

I deal with bullshit all day. When I get home, I want to push button, play game, and fucking chill. This is why I like consoles, especially Nintendo.

There’s a subset of people who love this shit, and will spend hours optimizing and tweaking shit to play their games. Turns out those are less than 1% of your customer base and it’s not cost effective to cater to them.


This is something only someone with zero morals or vision would suggest.
Nobody is suggesting not making Windows versions, that would be absurd. But making a port of your game using a cross-platform engine to begin with isn’t far-fetched at all. It just isn’t that much work in that case.

If you really view money as the only goal or the primary one, of establishing a business, you have lost your soul and gained my pity.
You must earn enough money to stay in business and allow for some growth, obviously. Everything else is a bonus.


That’s not even close to true.


This is very very not true.
And the attitude that not choosing to do so is amoral is just… I don’t even know what to do with that.