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Note: Article updated to better explain 1 or 2 points.

There were a few loud users complaining about a recent Linux release where you had to pay for the Linux version on Steam, even if you already own the Windows version. I’ve spoken to a few people and have some thoughts on it.

First of all: I fully agree porters should be paid for their hard work, that’s absolutely not in question at all. It’s a reason why I so heavily dislike grey-market key resellers. If you do the work — you should be paid.

I said at the release of the game that prompted this (Arma: Cold War Assault) that I was torn on the issue, as it’s a difficult topic to address. Difficult because I could easily anger every side of the argument and end up in some hot water myself. Not only that, but I am personally too used to just getting a Linux version for free just for owning a Windows copy from years ago. I purchased it myself personally, because I appreciate the work and because it is stupidly cheap.

Part of the issue is that Valve used to promote “Steamplay”, where you buy once and automatically get it on all platforms Steam supports. So, Valve are partly to blame for issues like this. While I like that system myself, it does have flaws when it comes to situations like this. Valve have actually removed any mention of Steamplay from store items, so perhaps over time people won’t expect to get all versions for free. It is a weird expectation in reality the more I think about it, to get something for nothing like that. I know you can argue all you like about free software and so on, but that’s a different argument for a different day.

It’s a very tough situation to be in for both a developer and a Linux gamer, since it could potentially put people off dual-booting or fully switching to Linux, if you have to pay for your games again. I don’t think there’s a one-size fits all approach here, since a lot of games may require little effort to bring over to Linux. Not all games should require a purchase per platform, but I think it should be an option at times and it should be welcomed. Even something simple like an upgrade option, that way we can still ensure the porter directly gets their due cut of the money for their work.

You could also argue that part of the hook of SteamOS and Steam Machines were that you got access to your library of games that supported Linux. An interesting point of course, but I think it’s also important that the games are just available there, even to buy again, at the very least. There’s also the fact that Steam Machines haven’t really taken off, so that’s quite a weak argument to have anyway.

I think paying essentially peanuts for a really old game that’s been slightly updated and ported to a new platform, well, yeah you should pay for that. You never paid for anything but the original version you got, so it would make sense to pay for something that is essentially different, wouldn’t it? We aren’t talking about a simple patch here, but a game ported to a different platform.

That goes for new games as well, not just older titles. Let’s face it, you don’t buy a game for a PlayStation 4 and demand an Xbox One version as well, do you? No, you don’t. That’s a hypothetical question: think about it even if you don’t own a console. It takes time, effort and many hours of testing to ensure it works correctly on each platform. Then you have the very real ongoing support overhead on top of that. The same can be said for ports of newer AAA-like Linux ports. They often take months, a year even to port and then you need to again add in the testing and support costs.

I thought about all the “no tux, no bux”, the “I only buy/play games on Linux” arguments and all the similar sayings people use that essentially gets thrown out the window if you suddenly refuse to buy a brand new (to Linux) game, just because you own it on another different platform, or because purchasing it won’t give you a version already available on a platform you apparently don’t care about.

I adore the work that Virtual Programming, Aspyr Media, Feral Interactive and others do in bringing games to Linux. They shouldn’t have to deal with a shit-storm every time there’s not a sale, or you have to pay to have it on your platform of choice. It’s the icing on the entitlement cake and it doesn’t taste nice, quite sour in fact.

Every time I see “will only get it on sale” or the instant “will it be released with a sale?!” posts I really do fear for our platform as gaming choice. Why is a Linux port worth so much less to you? It damn well shouldn’t be. We are gaming on a platform that has to prove itself to survive in what’s quite a hostile environment full of publishers with dollar signs for eyes. If we consistently pay less, create storms about small issues like this, then again, I fear for our future.

Faced with the option of paying extra for a Linux port, even if I have a Windows version I’m never going to use, over no Linux port, the choice seems obvious doesn’t it? If the original developer/publisher doesn’t want to deal with it at all, but isn’t averse to someone else handling all of it, then the only route to a Linux port could mean an entirely separated Linux version. I’m okay with that and I hope more people will be in time too.

If Bethesda turned around to a porting house and said “Okay, we will let you 100% handle Fallout 4 for Linux, but the contact is that you sell it yourselves separately to ours”. Would you turn away from it? I would embrace the crap out of that despite owning a copy for Windows (free with my GPU). Fallout 4 on Linux, yes please. I would enjoy metaphorically throwing money at my screen full price for that on Linux. That and a great many others. I'm not saying it should be the same price as the original Windows release, to be clear on that, since it is a port and not an entire new game.

We should consider ourselves lucky to get a free Linux version for a years old purchase on Windows, not outright expect it and be hostile if it isn’t free.

Please Note: Our comments section is always open for debate, but manners cost nothing. I expect a certain level of decorum on hot topics like this. Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Editorial
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Alm888 22 Mar, 2017
Quoting: JanIt's a common misunderstanding macOS would be a "walled garden" like iOS or consoles. ...but you can buy, download or install applications from wherever you want as long as you checked the right box in your system security settings.

Well, the idea is there. Microsoft is also going in that direction with Windows Store (or however it is called). It is generally better for the owning company to fully control all and every outlets and sources of applications for the OS as it allows to control money flow.

Quoting: JanPersonally, I buy ... directly from the Feral store. Rarely off of Steam.

But I thought Feral Store is just Steam-keys re-seller. Am I right?

P.S. I wonder whether Feral will be able to easily maintain Mac releases profitable with Apple's Metal push (and OpenGL abandonment) or not... Current setup with "enemy of my enemy is also my enemy" with Direct3D 12 vs. Metal vs. Vulkan makes things extremely murky. Most probably Apple will pay developers for MacOS exclusives for the time being (till Metal gains enough of traction). Apple is not Valve, they will not repeat Gaben's mistake with SteamOS.
elmapul 23 Mar, 2017
Quoting: adamhmWe also need to do our part of encouraging people to try Linux, and helping to make things as easy as possible for new users.

i guess it maybe easier to persuade mac users to use linux than windows people.
why? reasons:
dead island:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/383150/
Saints Row: The Third:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/55230/?snr=1_7_7_230_150_3
payday 2:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/218620/?snr=1_7_7_230_150_4

we have at least 3 AAA that they dont (we might have others, i'm to busy to search)

also for this game, they will not need buy again.



and for windows users, we might get those few games who have an better performance on linux than on windows (and remind then that the others run worse due to bad ports and being designed for DX)
they will not change for linux but may at least dualboot


Last edited by elmapul on 23 March 2017 at 11:05 am UTC
Jan 23 Mar, 2017
Quoting: Alm888But I thought Feral Store is just Steam-keys re-seller. Am I right?

P.S. I wonder whether Feral will be able to easily maintain Mac releases profitable with Apple's Metal push (and OpenGL abandonment) or not... Current setup with "enemy of my enemy is also my enemy" with Direct3D 12 vs. Metal vs. Vulkan makes things extremely murky. Most probably Apple will pay developers for MacOS exclusives for the time being (till Metal gains enough of traction). Apple is not Valve, they will not repeat Gaben's mistake with SteamOS.

Yes. But if you buy a Steam key from Feral it counts as a Linux/Mac sale and they might even get a little bit more money for their efforts.

Back in the day I used to buy Feral's Mac games directly from their store on DVD. There was no DRM, just a simple CD-check. Nowadays you can get Feral's ports on the Mac App Store and Steam (Linux and Mac).

No porting company (except Aspyr's Bloober Team games) offers DRM-free titles on GOG or similar sites.

Regarding Apple and Metal: I'm not sure if they would ever buy "exclusive" Metal titles for the App Store. They have never been seriously interested in games. It's a good way to show off new OS features or their own Ax chips at WWDC, but most devs will be very happy to get some stage time at Apple events or a nice feature banner on the App store, which helps boosting sales.

Both Unity and Unreal Engine 4 offer Metal-support out of the box. Therefore I don't think Apple cares too much about Vulkan. iOS is still the most important mobile gaming platform in terms of revenue, so devs will support Metal no matter what. Android uses Vulkan, but all the mobile app developers I talk to on a regular basis make more money on Apple's storefront, even though the market share of iPhone and iPad is smaller.
Alm888 23 Mar, 2017
Quoting: JanYes. But if you buy a Steam key from Feral it counts as a Linux/Mac sale and they might even get a little bit more money for their efforts.

As long as they will provide only DRM-ed ports their efforts are meaningless to me, sorry.

Quoting: JanThere was no DRM, just a simple CD-check.

That is called DRM in my book. I'm fed up with StarForce and SecuROM "copy protection" technologies.

Quoting: JanNo porting company (except Aspyr's Bloober Team games) offers DRM-free titles on GOG or similar sites.

Their loss.

Quoting: JanThey have never been seriously interested in games.

No, sir! Be it that way they had not invented Metal API targeted directly against Vulkan ("Mantle" back at the day) and "Direct3D 12". Apple is clearly trying to dominate gaming market (mobile gaming market, specifically) by deliberately excluding "OpenGL ES" and placing developers in the "either/or" situation.

Quoting: Jan...I don't think Apple cares too much about Vulkan.

Cares? No! Is afraid of? Most probably, yes.
elmapul 24 Mar, 2017
Quoting: JanAndroid uses Vulkan, but all the mobile app developers I talk to on a regular basis make more money on Apple's storefront, even though the market share of iPhone and iPad is smaller.

some reasons:
you need to have money to have an iOS device (at least on my country) iOS devices may sell less, but they are targeted at an premium market.
Apple had quality control on their store for some time, i dont know if they still does, but i'm tired of trying to find something good on GooglePlay and find crappy or apps that are "free" but you end up paying more than if you purchased an console+an good game instead of this time wasted designed to adict then get your money instead of give you fun.
i dont know if that is the case for iOS store, but there, the consumers use to have more money.


other issue is that android has piracy and for last but not least emulators, with an unlimited number of free high quality games, its not a big surprise that developers struggle to make money.
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