The cost of games on Linux has been an ongoing contentious issue, and one that I have responded individually on many occasions.
A lot of people have made the complaint ‘but I can get this game for half the price on Windows’.
Sure, you often can. But that isn’t the point. The point is, Linux isn’t Windows. We try and release our games at a price that is comparable to, if not a little lower then, a new release game on other platforms. For example, our newest three games have been priced with X3 at £30, Jets’n'Guns at £15, and Sacred Gold at £27. Compare this to 3 new releases for Windows, Sims 3 at £40, Spore’s expansion at £20, and Street Fighter IV and £30. The prices are comparable.
We agree that most games we produce have already been out on Windows for a while, but thats the big point. Why does a Linux user care about what is available on another platform? It is a new game to THIS platform. A couple of years ago, I saw a copy of Doom 1 for the PS2 for £50 when the engine was already open sourced and you could buy the windows version for about a pound. Thats what happens on other platforms.
So, thats one reason.
The other is, the price reflects what it costs us to make it.
We have to pay developers who often have to spend months rewriting large portions of a game. Porting isn’t a 5 minute job, stick it in a Makefile and gcc will take care of the differences. Not even close. Developers take months making the games run on Linux, and we have to ensure we can pay them properly for their work.
Another question we are often asked is ‘I bought this game for Windows, can I just download a copy for Linux because I’ve already paid for it’.
The answer is no. It will always be no. We get no share of revenue from the sale of the Windows version. I understand why people are reluctant to pay for it twice, but look at it from our point of view. We spend months making a game, and then people expect us to give it away for free because they gave money to another company. Thats like going into McDonalds, buying a coke, drinking it, then going into BK and asking for a refill! The product is the same, the company is different.
When it comes down to it, we know we cannot compete with Windows games on price for the game. We take a finished Windows product and make it run on Linux. This means by the nature of our business we will release after the game is available on Windows, and the shelf-life of a Windows game is so short that it is highly unlikely we will release the game while it is still on the full price new releases shelf. And so it comes down to this:
We release games for the Linux OS. If you are going to dual boot, or have a second Windows machine for gaming, then you will be able to get it cheaper. Just like if you own a PS3, a game for Windows will be £10 cheaper when it comes out. Or if you own a mac, the games will be at the same price level as Linux games, sometimes earlier, sometimes later.
If you want more games for your OS, then you need to buy the ones that are available. If you just want cheaper, then buy for Windows, but don’t complain when there arent enough games for Linux.