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!