I had the pleasure of speaking with another developer today about their Linux sales, and this time it was Lurler from AtomicTorch Studio.
I asked the developer about how their sales have been going across different platforms:
Those figures seem pretty similar to what we have seen from other developers before here on GOL.
The developer had this to say about the figures:
QuoteLinux sales are more or less consistent across these two projects, the difference is within the range of standard deviation. But mac sales are a bit bigger for Dinocide since it is a bit more casual game. I think this is because Mac has a higher percentage of casual users.
But as you can see it isn't really worth financially to support any platforms other than Windows, especially considering how broken the support for these platforms on most of the cross platform engines. Never the less, we felt it is important.
Q: How hard was it for you to support Linux?
QuoteSupporting Linux was a very difficult task. Even though Unity is supposed to be cross-platform solution, yet there are hundreds of problems related to compatibility and performance. Not to mention critical bugs in the Unity itself when running on Linux. And you can't always find workarounds to these problems and bugs... We are hoping that the situation improves, but for us the conclusion is that we will never use Unity for our future games. However seeing as Unity is one of the most used engines in the indie scene it is a serious problem for everyone...
We also had to rewrite many of our custom plugins and contact third party developers whose solutions we were using in order to improve their products in relation to Linux and Mac support. Unfortunately I must say that the Linux is the least stable platform when it comes to these kind of third party software and libraries. Obviously not the Linux itself, but the software tools that are available for that platform.
Another thing I want to mention, our game required Mono, but most of the users didn't have it installed or had an incomplete version and many actually had a corrupted installation. We solved that problem by providing a special bundled-mono with the game. But that was one hell of a task to overcome. Which again, doesn't make supporting Linux easy. However, there might be some improvements in this regards after merge between Microsoft and Xamarin.
Q: Do you feel you made any profit on the Linux version?
QuoteThe game was released simultaneously for Win, Mac and Linux. As you can see from the stats I provided above the sales of Linux version turned out to be minuscule. I would say with the amount of effort we had to put into making this support available we ended up losing money.
This is obviously only true for VoidExpanse. Some simpler games might actually be a very straightforward to port. In fact our second game - Dinocide, which is a classic platformer, was indeed a relatively easy port without any serious issues and we did make some extra income from this port.
And I would say, again. If you are using Unity and your game is a complex piece of software with many third party modules - porting isn't a good idea. But if you are making something simple and only using native Unity tools, making a port is definitely a good idea. As I mentioned above, for us the conclusion is simple - we are writing our custom engine (Renkei Engine:
http://wiki.atomictorch.com/Renkei_Engine) for our future projects to ensure total compatibility with all three platforms.
Q: What would you say to developers wanting to release a Linux version?
QuoteStay away from closed-source code where you have no control over things. You won't be able to fix the problems that might arise when porting. And waiting for fixes from the developers of these solutions may take months if it will be available at all. Not to mention that quite often the support for platforms other than Windows is sub-par.
Q: How do you feel about supporting Linux in future games?
QuoteTaking everything that I wrote above into consideration and the fact that we are a very small team with tiny budgets - all of our _big_ future projects will be released for Window only initially. At least for the Early Access phase. This will allow us to focus on developing the game itself, rather than spending significant amount of time for cross platform support early on. And when the game is more or less complete we will make the ports for other platforms available. We feel it is better to make a good product first, and then take care of porting, rather than allocating a significant portion of the time towards cross platform support during the initial development phase. However, if our custom engine proves to be stable enough to release for all platforms at the same time we will obviously do that. Never the less, it is still very important to us to make our games available on all platforms, including Linux. Hopefully the situation will only improve in the future :)
I would like to thank Lurler for the honesty, and wish the studio all the best!
You can find Dinocide here and VoidExpanse here. You can also buy them directly to get them from the developer + a Steam key. If you want to have a chat with me about your games, send me a message.