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Linux Game Publishing...the return?

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So anyone who has been in the Linux gaming scene for a while will have probably heard of LGP (Linux Game Publising) who port and distribute games for Linux at quite a premium as they tend to go for older AAA titles as opposed to indie titles.

I have made my feelings clear on their operations over the past few years due to them being quiter than space. It seems the silence has finally broken and the current CEO Mike Simms is stepping down!

http://blog.linuxgamepublishing.com/

I wander what LGP and Tuxgames can really do now that we have places like Gameolith and Desura? For one thing tuxgames in my eyes needs a big makeover...then again so does the LGP company website in my eyes too.

They need to update their workings a bit for one thing personally i think they should get rid of their physical media that keeps their prices up so high and publish downloadables to Desura and Gameolith.

What are your thoughts? They hold a special place in my heart as they where once awesome, I even own a couple of their titles - Sacred Gold being the most awesome.
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Bumadar 31 January 2012 at 4:06 pm UTC
likewise i have a soft spot for them, in someway they missed the boat the last 2 years, but on the otherhand if they can come up with a new set of aaa titles and maybe do distribution via gameolith and/or desura.

all in all i hope they will come out on top again, its a big step for the new ceo and nothing but respect for what michael has acomplished and do hope he fully gets over his burnout and maybe one day return to linux gaming with a passion.
whizse 31 January 2012 at 4:52 pm UTC
Kudos to Simms for acknowledging what had to be done. That couldn't have been an easy decision. For all their faults LGP still delivered some really good ports, so it's great to know that they still will be around.

Anyway, my short wishlist would be:
Ditch the DRM.
Ditch physical sales.
Start communicating more with the community.

It would be nice to have some sort of exit interview, but I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't feel up to it right away.
Hamish 31 January 2012 at 6:49 pm UTC
Well, of course, I wish Michael all the best in this and hope that LGP does come back to some of its previous heights. Both of them have definitely succeeded in making their mark on the industry and on our history. But Clive does indeed have quite a few hurdles to to jump before he too can lead them to a better place.

My primary concern is and always will be the DRM, as it means that I always have trouble with the idea of supporting them. With the Humble Bundle and all of these other Indies fighting the good fight against such measures, it somehow seems wrong to just turn around and support a firm that does, just out of a feeling of nostalgia mostly. And with some of their titles such as Shadowgrounds, Shadowgrounds: Survivor, and Postal 2 on Desura free of DRM, significantly updated, and also dramatically cheaper, it would be difficult for anyone to accept what they are asking of you to purchase the versions LGP are promoting.

Pricing is of course another issue, but one which is more difficult to solve. Still, they do have quite a backlog of titles that could still generate revenue, and they also do still have several ways open to them to cut down costs. As both Liam and whizse suggested, one of those could be giving up on boxed titles entirely. Ryan C. Gordon did a speech at SELF 2009 where he stated that we were approaching the end of "physical" games, and has really spent the past two years since getting just that point across. During that same time, LGP has been struggling through Simm's burnout. Most damningly, in the speech he even went as far as to say that in the future that they will "no longer be a Loki, there will no longer be a Linux Game Publishing". He may still be correct.

They could also just ditch the idea of being a publishing entity at all. As Liam was observing, they really do not have as much room now that the industry has some larger heavyweights such as Desura, the Humble Bundle, and even Gameolith going out and shaking their tip jars. The main advantage that LGP and Tux Games have is their large backlog of titles that were collected over the past twelve years, but those in of themselves do not a business make. LGP could utilize these assets much more cheaply and in many ways more effectively if they sold their games through someone else's service. We know for a fact that Desura has no problems with older titles, and I doubt that Gameolith would either. Gameolith would also not have any problems with selling only the Linux versions of a title either.

So, as I see it, this is the dilemma before them. Though to be fair to everyone at LGP and to Simms in particular, the reasons that these changes are needed do not rest on LGP merely because of any one person's incompetence. Instead, the industry has just been changing, and for the most part changing for the better. The old publishing and porting model that was pioneered by Loki, and kept alive by LGP, simply does not work anymore, and never really did work all that well. But at the time it did seem like the only way forward. This is not true any more, and I think LGP could do better by rethinking what their priorities are, which are simply to grow and promote Linux gaming, and find out the best way of doing that given the way that the industry is today. And I think we can all find a way to support them in that spirit.
Rusty Broomhandle 3 February 2012 at 10:23 am UTC
Just echoing what has been said above. I support LGP in principle, but they really need to drop that DRM and consider reevaluating their delivery channel/s.

I bought X3: Reunion from them, and did not mind the inflated price too much, but it hit home what a bad deal it was when later on I managed to get X3: Terran Conflict/X3: Reunion for Windows in a package deal, for half of what I paid for the Linux version, and at that time Egosoft removed the DRM from the Windows versions completely. On top of that, the Windows versions were updated regularly and received ongoing support, whereas the LGP one stagnated. Then there was the whole dead auth servers debacle.

If they focused more on doing the ports and supporting them, and left the retail side of it to Desura et al, I think they'll be in a better position. And in an Icculus-like way if they also occasionally open-sourced some of their achievements for others to learn from/use, all the better for everyone.

Developers/publishers of games who are tying to make it in the Linux world must realise that they are not competing with other developers/publishers as much as they are competing with a stigma: "Linux sucks for games". I read this all the time, but in reality it's a misunderstanding of the issue. There's nothing wrong with Linux for games. There's just not a whole lot to choose from compared to the other platform. The market exists, the tech is fine, and a lot of what make potential devs nervous, "hard to support" / "too many distros", are not as hard to deal with as they think.

There's momentum at the moment, and the trick is to keep nudging the ball till it's rolling downhil.

As a community we also need to stop being so frickin' hostile. It's easy to hate on Google for selling stuff in a closed manner through the Chrome Web Store, but it means I can play Bastion on Linux. So what, right? No, it means that if there are people playing these games on Linux, the publisher has a record of it, unlike when we play games through Wine.

[erased a whole tangent about developers needing to remain part of a larger community]
Hamish 3 February 2012 at 4:06 pm UTC
"Rusty Broomhandle, post: 3270, member: 142"And in an Icculus-like way if they also occasionally open-sourced some of their achievements for others to learn from/use, all the better for everyone.


I am not quite sure what you mean here. They have already released the source code to Grapple, and have contributed to some projects upstream. I do not see what they have left/have the legal ability to release, besides their DRM system.
Rusty Broomhandle 3 February 2012 at 8:44 pm UTC
"Hamish, post: 3273, member: 6"I am not quite sure what you mean here. They have already released the source code to Grapple, and have contributed to some projects upstream. I do not see what they have left/have the legal ability to release, besides their DRM system. :p


I don't mean open-sourcing entire licensed games. I mean more in a "while porting game Y we encountered Z issue with proprietary tech and solved it by creating X workaround, which we'll share with the world" type way. Kind-of how Mojoshader and Theoraplay came into existence.
Hamish 3 February 2012 at 9:07 pm UTC
"Rusty Broomhandle, post: 3274, member: 142"I mean more in a "while porting game Y we encountered Z issue with proprietary tech and solved it by creating X workaround, which we'll share with the world" type way. Kind-of how Mojoshader and Theoraplay came into existence.


Yeah, is that not what Grapple was? They had all of these games that utilized DirectPlay, which of course does not work on Linux, so they made their own networking layer to replace it, which they released as free software.

So I do not really know what else you wish of them to do.
Rusty Broomhandle 3 February 2012 at 9:45 pm UTC
"Hamish, post: 3275, member: 6"Yeah, is that not what Grapple was? They had all of these games that utilized DirectPlay, which of course does not work on Linux, so they made their own networking layer to replace it, which they released as free software.



Well that's good then.



"Hamish, post: 3275, member: 6"So I do not really know what else you wish of them to do.



Port games, profit?
Holger 7 February 2012 at 11:26 am UTC
1st off all I whish Mr. Simms all the best and hope he recovers soon from his burnout.

As for LGP I am unsure if they should return at all....

The past of LGP has been filled with old AAA titles ported over from Windows being released for lets say 20-30€ when the Windows "original" has already been available either at the software pyramid or as part of the DVD of a gaming magazine. Sacred was such an example.

Most older titles (like the one ported from LGP) run perfectly under WINE. So what is the point of buying a Linux port of a game for 30€ when I get the Windows version for 5€ (part of gaming magazine) ?

Their upcoming titles are 10 years old ! 10 YEARS....

Cedega (even if I do not really like them) has had a nice idea with the gametree program and I think that is the approach that any company as LPG should follow.

Doing full ports with a long development time plus long time to market is not smart. Doing compatibility enhancements to an original Windows game (if needed at all) to make it more WINE-compatible with a rather short development time plus shorter time to market is very smart.

Forget about those hardcore Linux folks claiming that "WINE does no good for Linux". Gamers under Linux want to play games. Be it under WINE or Linux native.

Just a few business ideas for the new "old guy" of LPG:
- Drop any sort of DRM
- Drop any phisical distribution media
- Provide games either via download server plus key or via Desura, Steam, etc
- Do only "ports" of titles which are not older as 3 years
- Do only "ports" of titles which have a good reputation to run under WINE (at least bronze or silver rating in Wines AppDB).
- Do ports with quick time to market by using WINE as application wrapper

If you are unsure about the above, then quit from business and visit a business school. If you are questioning the success chances, then try the above with at least some medium successful game of the last few years.

All the best,
H.
Hamish 7 February 2012 at 7:53 pm UTC
Where has that guy been, hiding under a rock? Sorry, but to be blunt, that sounds like the kind of rant someone would have made about five years ago.

Bringing up Cedega at all? Seriously?

The problem has nothing to do with native titles. Porting is not that difficult if a game is made right. And using a WINE layer has its own difficulties, not to mention the problem of supporting it in the long term.

The reason why LGP did older titles is that they only had the clout to pick up older titles. Whether they used a WINE layer or went native or not is not relevant. And they were not all AAA to begin with, and many were ported by other people and simply published by LGP. So it was not even that they were looking for older titles specifically, it is just what they were offered.

And I am sorry, but saying lines like "quit from business and visit a business school" is just plain insulting, when you obviously have no idea about the Linux gaming industry as it is today.
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