The toll of the recession on Linux gaming

No, don’t worry, we aren’t going anywhere.

It has just been announced that yet another Linux-friendly company, Grin, has gone under. Add this to the big name of Ascaron a couple of months ago, and it is a sad time for those that had some faith in Linux gaming.

I just wanted to take a moment to send a thought out to those companies, and thank them for the time and effort they went to, working with us on bringing their great games (Ballistics, Bandits, Sacred) to Linux, and to wish the employees of these companies good luck in finding new places either within or outside the gaming industry.

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45 Responses to “The toll of the recession on Linux gaming”

  1. MaximB says:

    The Title is VERY misleading.

    Those companies don’t sell nor port Linux games, LGP bought the rights to port and sell those games, therefore Linux gamers don’t buy from those companies, they buy from LGP.

    If even 10 million Linux gamers would have bought those games from LGP it wouldn’t made those companies richer by even 1 cent.

    That is unless the contact between LGP and those companies is per copy sold – which I doubt.

  2. MaximB says:

    Sorry , my bad…
    I thought that once you bought the rights to port and sell the games then you don’t have to pay them anymore – that explains the higher prices.

    Those companies were indeed friendly to Linux in a way that they let you port those games, Sacred is a very good hack-n-slash game and I’m still waiting for Bandits (seen some videos on youtube – looks great).

  3. liam dawe says:

    Well i am glad that LGP is still around, i am curios do you actually make enough money from LGP + Tuxgames to not have to hold another job, so are they enough to keep you living properly?

    I am ever more tempted to invest more in linux.

    Are we ever going to see an update to ports in progress? :P (yes i will never stop asking until you do :P)

    • I go out on the streets once in a while, you know, spare change, wash your car windows… {:-)

      I don’t really get paid for what I do with LGP, to be honest I pay LGP for the fun of doing it. But that was never the point. The point was, make games on Linux {:-)

      Updates on ports in progress, well, someone on staff is supposed to keep those up to date. I’m sure he will read this comment and go ‘oops’ and fix them before I kick him somewhere the sun doesn’t shine {:-)

      • liam dawe says:

        I only keep asking about the ports as it seems no one updates on ports in progress which is rather frustrating honestly it doesn’t look too good as a company announce something and then have it turns into what seems vapour.

  4. Max says:

    You almost gave me a heart-attack with that headline. :P
    Yeah, sad that those companies are going down.
    There still is Wolfire games though, which is a small indie game developer, responsible for games such as Black Shades, Lugaru and soon also Overgrowth.

    I’m not sure about Id’s current porting policy, guess it’s all up to TTimo.
    Ah, and I’m also still waiting for UT3. I guess Epic won’t release anything for Linux anymore after UT3…
    And UT3 is damn late…

    So Michael, did you ever thing about some model like having customers “preorder” certain games, like they pay 10 bucks so that you can afford the fees for some AAA title and then they buy the game when it’s out… or regular full price preorders…, okay, well, that would be hard to realize, since you could not guarantee, that you’d reach the desired number to get the license…
    So maybe that 10 buck approach would be best. Or some approach where people sign up for it, and the money gets withdrawn only after enough people have signed up for it.

    Well, the good thing is, that you always try to port interesting and diverse titles.
    Weren’t you even in negotiations with Piranha Bytes at a time?
    The developers of the Gothic series. Their new game “Risen” is gonna be released some time this year and it seems interesting to me. Also something that nothing similar to exists for Linux yet. They’re not quite Indie, their Publisher is Deep Silver.
    I don’t remember that discussion on their forum word by word anymore, but as far as i remember they were not quite against a Linux port, they just said that they wouldn’t do it because they did it all with DirectX and DirectX would be so much easier for developing games and if they’d want to release it on Linux, they’d have to change to OpenGL and so on… thats roughly what they said.

    You might want to check that out at least.
    The only kind of games that I don’t really want to see are Racing games, heh. Other than that I’d probably buy almost everything anyways.

    Well, I also already told you how much I’d love to see Startopia for Linux, but you already said that it’d be a nonstarter. :(

    And just out of interest, how many percent of the earnings for a game go to LGP (including all the stuff that lgp has to pay to the programmers and not just pure earnings) and how many go to the developer?
    Is it 50/50 or more shifted towards on side?
    Personally I’d like to see LGP getting the major part, but well, sadly my personal preference can’t influence the reality. :P

    • We did look at the Gothic series a while ago but it was a non-starter. Risen does look good, for sure!

      The problem with preorders isnt so much the money, it is getting enough people to commit. If we could overcome THAT hurdle, we could license pretty much anything.

      As for the money, I can’t speak directly about that, but the share of the money goes in the most part to the developers who do the port, the remainder is split between LGP and the companies we license from.

      • MaximB says:

        “Risen does look good, for sure !” ??? you mean the game or the chances to license the porting rights ?

        “The problem with preorders isnt so much the money, it is getting enough people to commit.” – what people ? the porters that work at LGP or the costumers ? if it’s the later then the preorder policy could work – if enough people preordered the game the porting would start – just like Deck13 did with their Linux ports.
        But I remember you saying the problem is much deeper, the problem is with the companies that making the games and their publishers – that even if you offer them money they sometimes wouldn’t want to give you the porting rights.

        Also I update my Commercial gaming list regularly, maybe you want to take another look at the “maybe” list and make it possible ?
        There are quite a few games that use Linux friendly engines in the list – and they look good.

        • wasdf says:

          Risen looks good… yeah! but Michael doesnt mean this in a porting way. as said above Piranha Bytes are kind direct x fetish xD i was searching the forum for linux for one whole day when i first heard about the game. but i think a port is faaaaar away. nevertheless i wont buy a windows copy of it.
          but i would make a preorder if this would make a port possible (or other AA(A) titles)

          ps i definitely HATE this anti bot thing!!!!!! writing this the third time :/ and i propably have forgotten half of the stuff i wanted to write xD

          • Max says:

            How do you know? Is Michael your muppet, do you have a direct brain-connection with him?

            Just because a game is made using DirectX, it does not mean that it’s totally off the table…
            Actually, porting Direct3D applications to OpenGL is exactly what LGP does. I doubt that “X” had an OpenGL renderer and even Loki already did DirectX to OpenGL ports. (Heavy Gear II was the first one)
            Obviously it is connected to more work than porting an OpenGL game, but by no means impossible. (actually nothing is 100% impossible, well, maybe some stuff connected to physical laws… but maybe even those could somehow be bypassed)

            I think that he ment it in a “the game looks good”-way and he surely did not contact them about it yet. But maybe, just maybe he also ment it in a “the game looks good and LGP would like to get it after all the research and estimates would be finished”-way.
            I guess only Michael himself knows, and noone else.

          • wasdf says:

            i forgot the “i think…” part in it, sorry. as is said this code verfication down here deletes my posts a thousand times :/

        • Xyem says:

          Just a thought..

          What if you could send some money to LGP which is held in a “pool” and you can then allocate various amounts ( or all of it ) to titles you would like to see ported?
          Then LGP could approach them and if the licensing is agreed, that money is used towards paying for it. If it is a flatout “No” then it gets de-allocated and you can put it towards another title.

          I think Mantis ( the bug tracker ) has some functionality like this – sponsoring an issue. Instead, it would be “sponsoring a port”.

          Maybe that would be a workable/beneficial model?

          • It’s a nice idea till you carry it to the conclusion of killing the company {:-)

            The problem is, we get a load of money we then approach companies who say ‘what, they have to ask for community donations for paying for things? That’s not a serious company’. Thus any company other than a small indie would avoid us.

            Its great for funding, terrible for corporate image.

            We considered it and in the end we decided no.

          • Xyem says:

            Is that seriously what they would think?
            If it was me, I’d be like:
            Hey, seems we missed a market. And look, these guys are going to pay us not only up front, but for every one they sell, to cater for it.

            I don’t see how this is not a win/win for the company. Considerable profit for 0 effort.

            Then again, if it was me, I’d have a Linux port in the first place :-\

      • Dan says:


        Svartalf mentioned something about a Europa Universalis port in an interview on the Phoronix forums. Is this something LGP is looking into doing or is it something he is pursuing on his own?

        Being a big fan of these types of strategy games I’m hoping for a bit of news.

  5. Hoodlum says:

    I too was very very worried when I saw that title in my rss feed :P Glad to hear you’re not disappearing too, I really liked Sacred.

    I was just wondering about the status of Shadowgrounds Survivor again, I’m quite looking forward to it but the release is still last may :D and while i’m on the subject…..i’ll try and push my Trine agenda here as well (hehe) XD.

    I’m wondering if it would be viable for a port? It’s by Frozenbyte too and looks *awesome* and as you’ve already got a relationship with them I was hoping this would be realistic.

  6. Slick says:

    Michael, you scared me with the tittle. So who does LGP pay royalties to now since Grin went under?

  7. Liam Dawe says:

    I emailed about this twice a while ago and with the updates for Sacred out isn’t it time you actually put something here:

    Rather than having nothing….

    Also please do post what was fixed/changed etc on the site rather than just saying theres patches out. Just some friendly tips ;)


  8. Arnaud says:

    LGP does a great job, but unfortunately it lacks of reactivity and communication.

    Why not try something like Loki did : port a game during its development, like Tribes 2.
    The sales were not as high as expected, but at least more people bought the linux version than any LGP game (Majesty included).

    A port 5 years after the Windows version cannot be as succesfull as we should expect.

    During good old day, I remember buying a game named “Shadow of the Beast” for Amstrad CPC. It was a port from Amiga 500. I bought it because I did not have Amiga 500 at home. Unfortunately, most Linux users still have a Windows partition and would prefer buying the Windows one (cheaper). Sadly enough, some Linux users stil bought the Windows version of Tribes 2 even if the Linux version was available only 2 weeks after.

    I don’t blame you Michael, what you do for Linux is, in my opinion, much more relevant than Canonical (yet another distribution), but you need a better strategy (BTW : I support LGP as I supported Loki and RuneSoft, I bought most of your games even if I did not like some of them)

    • Unfortunately you missed a key point here:

      > Why not try something like Loki did : port a game during its development, like Tribes 2.
      > The sales were not as high as expected, but at least more people bought the linux version than any LGP game (Majesty included).

      Also strongly related to the extremely high costs of licensing a simultaneous title, Loki then went out of business. Not JUST because of this, but the losses from Tribes2 didnt help at all.

      We intend to stay in business. We are trying our best to stay in the market and build things up as fast as we can in a sustainable way. Going out in a blaze of glory isn’t what Im aiming for.

      • liam dawe says:

        He is right about 1 thing -> communication, you guys seem to lack it severly about the ports going on, i keep asking for updates as a few others have and still nothing :(

        • We cant give technical details about progress, because – well, we cant. As general progress, ports are really hard to estimate timeframes on. So all you’d get is ‘yes, its in progress’. Which you know already.
          Especially on ports like Survivor, where we arent the ones doing the port, we are just publishing, so all the information we have is second hand anyway!

          • liam dawe says:

            Well i’m glad it has gone gold for release now so i may buy it, are we going to get a demo available for it?

            Also you annouced stuff about majesty before, when will the new build be available with a new demo any ideas (since you guys are doing that!).

            As for Bandits why is it going to slow then?

  9. Max says:

    So what about Terran Conflict, are you still porting it? ;)

    And are you still porting Bandits?

    I’m pleased to see that Shadowgrounds has gone gold now.
    I’m gonna order it right when it’s there, I wish they could send me the gold master right away. :P

    Is the gold master actually still made of gold? I somehow doubt it.

  10. Max says:

    Who were those replies directed to? Seems to be a new reply…
    Does that mean that there is gonna be a demo of Shadowgrounds?
    Because that’d be pretty nice.

    Btw. I hate this captcha system, i already made it my habit to save the written stuff before i send it…

  11. Demo will be available before launch, not sure exactly when

    Majesty boxes will be delivered the same day Survivor is delivered

    Bandits is slow cos only 2 people in the company are trained to do the last bit that is missing (penguinplay integration) and neither of us have spare time.

  12. liam dawe says:

    Will it would be nice if we got a demo sooner rather than later for Shadowgrounds so we know what to expect and it would help your ealier sales too or else you have to wait for people to buy it and then review it which is never good.

    As for Bandits, don’t have time as in busy doing other things in the company or busy doing things outside of work? I would have thought an unfinished port (one of the things that will keep the company alive) would be of a main concern?

  13. heh, one of us, me, is busy with a million company things, the other one, one of the devteam, is working on a different project that needs finishing first. As this is a port of a much higher profile game, with the possibility of a load more high profile games behind it, guess which won…
    We are hoping to have the Survivor demo out asap, before the release, ideally…

  14. Max says:

    Now that’d be that “secret” game that no mortal knows of yet? The one that is supposed to be revealed later this year?

  15. liam dawe says:

    Ok well i didn’t know about the high profile game, colour me again excited, i don’t mean to sound harsh or anything in my posts, it would just be nicer to have more open communication :)

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