We often get a question similar to “why don’t you create native packages?”. I’m going to make an attempt at answerring that.
Current Linux distros primarily use either RPM or DEB (and a load of other less common ones that are only used by a distro or two). Most deb distros are somewhat compatible, as most of those are in one way or another based upon Debian. However, on the RPM side we’ve even got two completely different development trees of rpm itself, and a load of distros that are not compatible with each other. Last I checked (feel free to correct me here), most RPM distros let you install a 32bit package on a 64bit system, but last I tried I couldn’t do the same on a deb system. So now we’re up to three packages. One 32bit RPM, one 32bit DEB and one 64bit DEB. But now we’re assuming that all people have one of those two, but the fact is that they don’t (yes I know RPM is part of LSB, that doesn’t really guarantee that it is always present, nor properly set up). So we’re going to need another one anyway. We could go with a tarball, which at least gentoo and slackware will be used to, and possibly others, but for the others, well, we’ll either have to provide a lengthy technical README, or an installer. So, that’s five.
Now, consider that many of our games are several gigabytes, it is completely impossible for us to package all of them on the DVD. As far as I know, neither RPM nor DEB can have their payload as a separate and compatible file. Things could be copied in post-install hooks, but then we’re just about back to square one, as we’re pretty much bypassing the package manager anyway. As the installer could be made to use the tarball, we’ll need four full-size packages, and all of this is assuming that the package formats will stay compatible.
So to sum it up, not only would it be a lot of work to test and document it all, we’d still have to provide the packages we’re providing now to keep it accessible to everyone, but it would also take roughly four times the space, and I for one would not pay extra for a game to have four install DVDs containing the same game, just in several different installation formats, when one would suffice (yes yes, I know it would provide you with backups, but with the new copy protection system we have added you get free downloads of your game anyway, so that’s not a valid argument:).
If you have any input, suggestions or questions for me, feel free to ask them here in the comments, on IRC (Zero_Dogg in #lgp on irc.freenode.net), via identi.ca/twitter or via e-mail (to eskild at the domain linuxgamepublishing dot com).