A couple few ago i purchased my first linux game… X3 Reunion. the game itself is several years old already (maybe four or five at this point), but a really good, deep, involved game. None-the-less, I’m somewhat disheartened. For quite some time there have been once-A+ titles that have been ported to Linux and they are available for purchase, but those very few sites that sell these games (and, for the US, I think there’s only one), most, if not all, seem to have a complete lack of care in intising linuxites (I’m coining this!) to actually purchase them.
For instance, the site I purchased X3 from… Tux Games… has a website that looks to have been built back in the Web 1.0 days and rarely, if ever, updated since that point. In fact, when I first saw the site, I thought it was dead/abandoned until I noticed that one of the articles on the front page was only a couple of months old. On top of this, Tux Games seems to only be reselling games ported by the UK porting house Linux Game Publishing, whom’s website itself is only barely more modern than it’s US resellers.
Now, I know games for Linux is a difficult subject. If there are any porting houses interested in porting to Linux, getting a hold of the licence and source to do so is like trying to lovingly pet a hungry shark without getting bitten. Furthermore, even if they could get the licence, the time and money involved, in relation to the projection of financial return from doing so, makes porting A+ titles to Linux a more-or-less loose-loose proposition. Still, it doesn’t help that the small handful of A+ Linux titles sit on sites that don’t seem to be keeping themselves up to date (because, let’s face it… looks may not be everything, but when all you have is a website’s word for it and that website looks like a throwback, you may not be inclined to believe that site).
I throw out a suggestion to any one of group of people wishing to bring Linux gaming to the A+ world. It’s can’t be done overnight, that’s for sure, and waiting for any title to be Linux ported is more often than not, disappointing. However, Ubuntu has started a type of app store for Linux software (including games), which is great, but with the Ubuntu name associated with it, it may make newcomers to Linux question if they can use that store if they chose to go with a non-Ubuntu platform (I know this is not the case, but we’re talking perception of the common person). As such, a “LINUX APP STORE” needs to be created.
I’m picturing a website that would work much like the app stores for the fruit, and greed droid handhelds. Developers write their apps and put them up on the Linux App store, supplying all of the library requirements for the app. Then, when a user buys the app, their computer is checked (perhaps using a user installed extension) to confirm their distribution has the required libraries and system specs. If their computer fits the bill, then the app is downloaded onto the users computer and configured, either per-user or per-computer. Users should also be give a 30 minute grace period in which to test the app after installation, to confirm it runs (every distro is quirky that way… we all know that), and, if it doesn’t, the user can “return” the app in which it’s deleted from the system and the users money is returned.
Like with the handhelds, the Linux App Store should be relatively inexpensive (from free to 9.99, with exceptions made for ported A+ titles). Also, in Linux style, these Apps can be offered as Open Source (because, remember, Open Source, does not mean the compiled application or its resources have to be free, just the source code), in which case, the user will also receive a zip of the source tree for the app, if they so choose.
I know that Linux and the word Free often go hand in hand. The OS is free, and many high quality software packages (aka, Apps) are free, such as GIMP, Blender, Audacity, etc, etc… but that doesn’t mean Linux cannot be friendly with closed source, pay-for applications, and if we can mold a system similar to other App stores, then I think Linux would have a chance to be even more mainstream than it already is. And as more and more people start using Linux and it’s App Store, it may start inticing the bigger companies to port to Linux.