Why you won’t get a Linux installer for the Windows version

We probably get this question at least once or twice a week, ‘I already bought this game for Windows, can I just get an installer for Linux for free’.

In some ways it is a fair question, you bought a license to play the game, but in reality it is not going to happen. Let me explain why.

When LGP ports a game, it takes time and money. We only get revenue back from people buying the Linux version. This means that if we were to say ’sure’ to that question, we would then suddenly get no revenue, as buying the windows version will earn us nothing.

We license games from companies who make the Windows version, and we do not get paid for making the games, and so selling them is the only revenue we receive. If, for example, you bought a game for Windows, you wouldn’t expect to be able to get a free copy of the same game for the Playstation. This is pretty standard for any industry. If you go pay to see a film at the cinema, you wouldn’t expect to get free pay-per-view access of the film on TV later on just because you paid money to the cinema.

We have had many people try and justify why they should have a free installer. We even had one bright spark take the demo for X2, hack the Windows datafiles into it, and then came asking for help wondering why he couldn’t save the game. The answer of course being ‘its a demo, its meant to not save the game’. Our demos are all written in such a way that they will not run the full version of the game.

Some Linux games, for example Quake 4, you get a downloadable installer because the same people who made the Windows version made the Linux version. They went to the expense and they recoup the money by selling the Windows boxed version. Other times, such as Unreal Tournament, where Loki released a downloadable installer for the Windows boxed version, the company who made the Linux version were paid to do so, and so the revenue is generated in that way. This is not the case with LGP games, and is unlikely to become so.

Of course, to leave things on an optimistic note, when Linux finally becomes the ruler of the desktop, then of course, Linux versions will be released first, and Windows gamers will end up in the shoes we Linux gamers currently wear. However, that will be a while coming, so until then, the answer is no. No installer!

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24 Responses to “Why you won’t get a Linux installer for the Windows version”

  1. Maxim says:

    I understand you very well, and in this model of work I see no way to release the installer for free.

    BUT have you tough or being asked to develop a Linux client in other model ?
    What I mean is you get payed by X company to make a Linux port of their game (all the sells from the game will benefit the X company off course, but you already got payed for your work).
    Something like Icculus does with the servers.

  2. RK says:

    “f you go pay to see a film at the cinema, you wouldn’t expect to get free pay-per-view access of the film on TV later on just because you paid money to the cinema.”
    Bad example; you only pay for a single viewing at the cinema, not the right to as many viewings as you want. A better example might be; feeling entitled to a free Blu-ray copy of a film, because you bought the VHS version way back when.

    “If, for example, you bought a game for Windows, you wouldn’t expect to be able to get a free copy of the same game for the Playstation.”
    I think the issue with consoles and PCs is that they are seen as completely different things. Perhaps because there is a physical manifestation of the difference (different boxes under the TV, etc.). Whereas Linux is just another program on the PC – and they’ve already bought the game for their PC, dag nabbit!
    This doesn’t apply to Macs because, as we all know, Macs are nothing like PCs… >_>

    Incidentally, have you checked EULAs for Windows games? Many of them, I suspect, will say you have a license to use the game on a single computer. Likely no mention of Windows specifically. Hence it could be argued that a purchaser already has a license for the game under whatever operating system they choose to use on that “computer”…

  3. MaximB says:

    People, you got to see things at LGP’s eyes to understand it…
    I also don’t buy this shit that if you “downloaded a game/movie illegally, then it’s the same as stealing a car” as some commercials say.
    That’s just playing stupid.

    But understand that LGP under their current business got no other way making money.
    If we as Linux gamers want to see more commercial games on Linux we must keep this company alive by supporting it.

    Ask yourselves What would you do if you were the CEO of LGP ?

  4. Ernst says:

    Huh, there’s a Linux demo for X3?!? I’ve been waiting and looking a lot for that but I can’t find it on your site! Plz gief, I want to see what it is!

  5. Max says:

    “Of course, to leave things on an optimistic note, when Linux finally becomes the ruler of the desktop, then of course, Linux versions will be released first, and Windows gamers will end up in the shoes we Linux gamers currently wear. However, that will be a while coming, so until then, the answer is no. No installer!”

    Got any ETA on this? :P
    Personally I always understood that policy and everything that supports Linux games is good anyways.
    Now where’s my bribe money or rather where is my X3 Terran Conflict for Linux?

    • Gilboa says:

      “Now where’s my bribe money or rather where is my X3 Terran Conflict for Linux?”

      S***w the bribe money! I’m willing to learn SDL, OpenGL and openal and do it myself!

      As for the subject at hand, I fully agree.
      If you are buying a Windows title, you should not expect to get the Linux title for free. (Especially given the fact that the Linux title is being ported by a second entity.)
      Far worse, people tend to forget that if you buy a Windows title – even if it’s being used it under Wine, your vote counts as a Windows user, (As opposed to buying a Linux title) and by doing it, you perpetuate the “tiny Linux games market share” problem.

      - Gilboa

  6. Dan says:

    Frankly I’m a little embarrassed significantly put out that people are selfish enough to ask for a Linux installer from LGP. It’s just not right.

  7. GBGames says:

    Or to put it another way, the business model that makes the most sense to the customer isn’t what LGP currently does, so too bad.

    I knew someone who bought every Sims expansion as well as the original game for Windows. She bought a Mac, and when she found out that there were Mac ports of the game she loved, she contacted EA to ask how she can transfer her games to the Mac.

    From her point of view, she already purchased the game. From EA’s point of view, and LGP’s, she has to repurchase the same exact game because it is on a different platform. She understandably felt put out by it, especially since she already invested as much as she did. And of course, video games, PC games in particular, aren’t something you can just resell easily, so it isn’t as if she could trade her old games for new ones. Her options were to shell out more money, go without, or download cracks.

    It’s LGP’s decision to do this business model, of course, but it is entirely possible to argue that the model is broken.

    It’s not embarrassing that people are “selfishly” asking for free Linux installers. It’s just that some companies do offer the ability to play a game on any platform, and so there is a market expectation that paying for the same game just to play it on each platform you desire is absurd. This isn’t like upgrading from DVD to BluRay, which offers some value. It’s the same game. There is no benefit to running on Windows vs Linux vs Mac. Linux users don’t get bonuses for having the Linux version, so where is the incentive to repurchase already purchased games?

    You can patiently explain that people are being too greedy, but no one is obligated to buy from LGP or support such a business model.

    MaximB, I’m not the CEO of LGP, but I would push for a model that allows the customer to decide which port to use instead of going to three separate publishers for three separate platforms. If EA publishes the game, I should be able to go to EA to download the appropriate installer for my platform when I purchase the game. The blog post says that this arrangement has been done. I have no idea how profitable it is for LGP to do it versus selling individual copies of their ports separately, but as a customer, it provides the most value to me.

    • To be honest, it wouldn’t be a bad solution but it isn’t going to happen. If we went to, as in your example, EA, and said ‘we’ll port this game, for this amount of money’ they would laugh. They dont care. You can’t believe how little most big game companies care about Linux. I mean, not only is it not even a blip on their radar, they refuse to have anything to do with it when it also involves them getting free money for no work. Seriously, Ive had companies turn down tens of thousands of pounds to license a port. So why then would they pay us to do one.
      The business model we have isn’t ideal, I’ll be the first to admit. But it is the only one that works as the market stands.

  8. palu says:

    Would you consider SELLING installers for the windows versions of the games LGP supports?

    The idea would be that the installer was a little cheaper for the end user (which would be why they’d bother buying the installer). It would include LGP’s DRM and be download only (and since you aren’t transferring the gigabytes of data or printing disks/manuals or mailing things across the world the distribution cost would be pretty low and including the DRM would prevent pirating).

    SELLING installers might be a way to expand LGP’s market to cheap dual-booters. They might not be willing to pay £30 for the Linux port of X2 that they already own for windows, but they MIGHT be willing to pay £15 for an installer.

    I’m only asking because reading this blog post brought up the idea, not because i have some collection of windows versions of LGP supported games (which i don’t).

    • That isn’t a terrible idea, actually. I will have a chat with some people and get some legal interpretation on some of our contracts, and see how it fits in with the Windows EULA of games, and maybe, just maybe, you may have hit on something there.

      No promises, but I do kindof like the idea! I do think it may end up being a legal quagmire to do it without breaking the games EULA which will usually say no modifying. But we’ll see!

      • Max says:

        Well, if you take different binaries and just reuse art assets and sound stuff and so on, I’m not sure if you could consider that modifying. It’s more like “exchanging”. (which could be considered as modifying in a way. :P)

        I think the problem might be the rightholders…

  9. Patrick says:

    I don’t even want a downloadable installer. I want real Linux releases, the way LGP currently releases its games.

    id Software develops great games, but I don’t like their downloadable installers. To run their games on Linux, I have to buy the game for Windows. Buying the Windows version to be able to play a game on Linux? Ridiculous. You don’t buy a Xbox game to play it on your playstation, so why should someone be forced to buy a game for a plaform he doesn’t use to be able to play the game on the platform he does use?

    I don’t want to buy the Windows version. Doing so only means more sales for the Windows platform. I want Linux to become a big platform. I want Linux to have a great market share. I don’t want to see Microsoft everywhere around me. Buying Windows versions only makes Microsoft grow. People look at those sales results and they see all of those sales for the Windows platform, so they think: “See how many times the Windows version is sold. Windows is the platform to release games.” Good sales for the Windows platform means even more games for the Windows platform. If the Windows platform has good sales they won’t even think about releasing their games for other operating systems. Why should they? They earn enough money by only selling the game for Windows.

    I want Windows games to have worse sales results, so developers will for other ways to earn money. If games for Windows don’t bring enough money, developers will go searching for other ways to get any money. If they see there’s a company, like LGP, who releases games for Linux and they see they can earn more money by releasing their games not only for Windows, but also for Linux, they’ll think about doing a Linux release. As long as people don’t buy native Linux games, but instead buy the game for Windows to play it on Linux, developers won’t even think about doing a Linux release. Their Windows sales are good enough, so why should they even care about doing a release on Linux?

    That’s also why I hate WINE. In my opinion WINE is no good for Linux as a gaming platform, but only hurts the Linux platform. LGP just released Sacred: Gold. People keep on complaining about LGP prices and what do they do? They buy the (much cheaper) Windows version of the game and play this version on Linux using WINE. To all those people: You’re no good for the Linux platform. You’re only increasing sales for Windows, instead of increasing sales for Linux. You’re only making the Windows platform bigger, instead of the Linux platform. Developers and publishers don’t know you’re playing the game on Linux. You buy the game for Windows and they see an additional sale for Windows. They don’t see good sales for Linux, so they think: “Okay, Linux users don’t want to pay for games. Why should we even bother to develop or release games for them. Wow, look at those Windows sales. Those are great. This certainly is the platform for games.” It doesn’t matter if 25% of all those Windows games aren’t even played on Windows. They count as a sale for Windows and it’s only a win situation for Microsoft.

    If you like Linux and you want to play your games on Linux, then don’t buy Windows version, to play them using WINE, but instead contact those developers and publishers to ask for a Linux release. If there’s a release for Linux, then buy it.

    There’s another reason why WINE is bad for Linux games. Developers don’t see a reason to put any effort and time into a Linux release. Why should they? They know about the existance of WINE and they know Linux users can play Windows games using WINE. The WINE community does this for free. It doesn’t cost a developer anything get the game running on Linux. Why should they even bother about putting time and money in a native Linux release, as the WINE community does this work for free. Those Linux gamers just buy the Windows version, so there’s no loss in sales. Linux gamers still buy the game and the developer doesn’t have to do anything to get the game running on Linux. Would you put any time and money in something other people can do for you for free?

    Nowadays Linux gamers are satisfied, because they can play games on Linux. Developers are satisfied, because they don’t have to do anything to get the game running on Linux, but they still earn money from those Linux users who buy the Windows version.

    Now imagine there’d be no WINE. This means Linux users would stop buying any Windows games, so sales for the Windows platform will decrease. Developers will see a lost in sales, so they go searching for a way to earn more money. Because there’s no more WINE, Linux gamers can’t play anymore games, so they’ll be screaming for games: “We also want to play games, please release your games for Linux.” Developers will see all those Linux gamers screaming for games and they’ll think: “Hey, there are a lot of Linux users who are asking for our games. Maybe the Linux platform can earn us some additional income. Let’s try it. Let’s release a few games for Linux and see how sales are for this platform.” Because Windows games don’t run anymore under Linux, Linux users are forced to buy the Linux version. That’s the end of all those people buying $10,- Windows games to play them on Linux. People will buy the Linux version, instead of the Windows version, so Linux sales will increase, while sales for the Windows platform will decrease.

    That will make Linux grow. Other developers will see those sales results for Linux games and when people start asking for Linux releases on their forum, those developers will also start thinking about doing releases for Linux. More and more games will be released and the market for Linux games will grow. More games for Linux, means less reasons to keep on using Windows. For most people games are the reason to keep on using Windows, but with more game releases for Linux, there’d be no reason to keep on using Windows. Those gamers can now safely switch to Linux and Linux can grow. This way Linux can finally become the ruler of the desktop.

    But to accomplish this, people have to buy Linux versions, instead of Windows version. I don’t want WINE and I don’t want to download an installer. I just don’t want to buy a Windows version, as I don’t want the Windows version to have even more sales. I want to see native games for Linux and I want to see good sales for the Linux version.

    Remember I’m not a proffesional in marketing and sales, I’m just a customer. I only say how I think about it and I only describe what I think will happen.

    By the way: What’s status of Shadowgrounds: Survivor? The product page still mentions 30 March 2009 as release date. Can this release date be updated? It looks so amaturistic to have a expected release date of five months ago. Can you tell us anything about its release date? If you really don’t know when the game will be released, why not change the release date to just “2009″ or “Q4 2009″? That looks better than a release date of five months ago while the game is still in development. I hope the game will be released soon. I’m really looking forward to this game.

    • Good grief, I think you were channelling my brain when you said that!

      As for Survivor, an announcement is due any day now. You can always tell a release is close when the LGP website gets boxart, which it has now got.

      • Max says:

        I already saw the boxart like 2 weeks ago. :P

        Ah, btw. now that Ascaron went bankrupt, would there still be any chance left to see Sacred 2 ported by LGP any time in the future?
        AFAIK the Addon for S2 will be finished but they’re already bankrupt by now.

        And Patrick, they tried selling boxed Linux version. (Quake 3 had one, I have it :D)
        But apparently they did not sell too well. Most Linux people had already bought the Windows version and used the binary from their website.

      • Patrick says:

        I also saw the boxart. Good to know an announcement will come soon.

        I also hope Sacred 2 (and its addon) will be released for Linux. Let’s hope sales of Sacred: Gold will be good enough.

      • Patrick says:

        There’s the announcement:
        “We are extremely please to announce that Shadowgrounds Survivor from Igios is now GOLD.

        Release Date confirmed to be 11 September 2009″

        That’s great news. I didn’t expect to see the announcement this soon. I’ve waited for this game since the announcement the game was coming to Linux. This will be an instant buy (boxed version of course. :)) I’m going to buy this game three times: one box for myself, one box for my Linux using friend and one box for… the shelf, just an additional buy to reward LGP for bringing this great game to Linux.

        Well, Shadowgrounds: Survivor is ready, but now I’m wondering what will be the next game LGP will bring to Linux. I don’t think you can say something about it, but I just give it a try: Are there any new projects already in development we don’t know about? Are you close to a deal to bring a new game to Linux, which will be announced soon?

        • Actually, the next release will be a surprise, and sooner than people think.

          Of course, I am just teasing people by saying that, and not giving any real information {:-)

          • Patrick says:

            Now I’m even more curious about your next game.

            So, “the next release will be a surprise, and sooner than people think”? Yes, Mafia 2 will be released for Linux next month. One year before its release on other platforms. :P

            Ok, we’ll see.

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